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New Mexico horse slaughter plant plans stymied by legal battles

On January 17, 2014, President Obama signed the 2014 Omnibus spending bill which reinstated the ban on horse slaughter in the U.S.
On January 17, 2014, President Obama signed the 2014 Omnibus spending bill which reinstated the ban on horse slaughter in the U.S.

The owner of Valley Meat, Rick De Los Santos hasn't given up on his controversial horse slaughter plant in Roswell, N.M., however his legal battles are far from over.

According to, the New Mexico Environmental Department will soon make a decision on a waste water permit which plans to pump horse slaughter waste into a lined lagoon where it will evaporate instead of contaminating the environment.

If that plan is not approved, Valley Meat Company will have to design another acceptable alternative; at least for that part of the contentious battle to open his plant and slaughter horses. Over 80% of the American population is opposed to domestic horse slaughter.

Read the complete story about the waste water controversy by clicking here.

The largest hurdle, however is funding for the required horse inspectors at the slaughter plants which was eliminated by the federal government. If not renewed in the interim, the ruling expires in September. The attorney for Valley Meats, Blair Dunn says that the plant will then be operational.

"The meat is safe. It's not going to harm anyone," stated De Los Santos.

Dating back to a study in 2010 and published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, 18 Thoroughbred race horses were traced from racetrack to the slaughterhouse. All had been treated with phenylbutazone (bute), "arguably the most potent and effective pain-relieving agent available in equine medicine."

The use of bute in animals raised for food production is strictly prohibited. There is no acceptable drug withdrawal time that eliminates the drug from an animal's body. Studies confirm that even the slightest amount of the drug consumed by a child can cause aplastic anemia.

Several lawsuits have also been filed by actor Robert Redford's foundation blocking horse slaughter. Former governor Bill Richardson has joined the fight.

In March 2014, the Albuquerque Journal reported the New Mexico Supreme Court denied a motion by Valley Meat to remove 1st District Judge Matthew Wilson from all future litigation concerning the horse slaughter matters with Blair Dunn citing to “restrain Wilson from continuing to preside over a matter in which he has allowed and continues to allow his campaign materials to give the appearance of impropriety and a lack of impartiality.”

To learn more about legislation to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 541 and H.R. 1094) to permanently ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and prohibit the transport of America's horses across the border to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico, please click here.

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