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Iowa Facility Is Second to Win Approval to Slaughter Horses

July 3, 2013
Horse Jenn Zeller

July 2 (Bloomberg) -- An Iowa facility has been cleared to slaughter horses for human consumption, the second such operation approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a week.

The agency said it was forced to act under the law when the company, Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, met all the requirements to be inspected. A facility near Roswell, New Mexico, was granted approval on June 28, clearing the way for the first slaughtering of horses for meat in the U.S. since 2007.

Separately, a group of animal-welfare advocates has sued the USDA seeking to keep the plants from opening.

Unless Congress renews a ban that expired in 2011, the USDA is required to issue a grant of inspection and provide inspectors that would enable the facilities to operate, agency spokeswoman Michelle Saghafi said in an e-mail.

The Obama administration "has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter," she said. "Until Congress acts, the Department must continue to comply with current law."

Horse slaughter is an emotional issue among animal-welfare advocates in the U.S., where eating of horse meat is rare and surveys show most Americans oppose the practice. Many farmers and ranchers say humane slaughter is necessary to dispose of unwanted animals.


Last Plant

The last U.S. horse-meat plant closed six years ago after Congress banned funding for inspections for such facilities. That ban lapsed in 2011 and measures to renew it are before lawmakers.

Along with the New Mexico and Iowa plants, a third application, from a company in Gallatin, Missouri, is pending.

Responsible Transportation didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking comment. On its website, the company says its mission "is to improve the quality of life of the unwanted horse population," by following professionally supervised, government-regulated euthanasia processes and allowing horses not to be transported outside the U.S. for slaughter.

"We believe it is our responsibility to restore the value of the horse industry. In doing so, the quality of life for the entire population of horses within the United States will improve," the company said.

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