In addition to objections based upon environmental issues, New Mexico State Attorney General Gary King filed a motion last week saying the "state wants to ensure that commercial operations within its borders are conducted in a safe and responsible manner."

In a June analysis, King ruled that state law "does not allow for production of meat that is chemically tainted under federal regulations."

Horse meat processed by the facility, if their plans are approved, would be sold to foreign buyers where human consumption is allowed and to domestic buyers for use as food at U.S. zoo facilities. The human consumption of horse meat in the U.S. is strictly prohibited by federal law but is common in Mexico, China and a half dozen other countries worldwide.

But U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave the green light for the practice of horse slaughter to resume on U.S. soil, citing a strict inspection system of all meat for human consumption, both in domestic and foreign markets. Inspections are rigidly enforced by USDA, and the agency further disagreed with animal rights activists who claimed harmful chemicals administered regularly to horses are undetectable.

The agency approved the Roswell plant's application for horse slaughter inspections under federal law, carefully stating it had no choice based upon current laws and scientific evidence of the harmful consumption of horse meat. But the federal agency was quick to note no horse meat is approved for human consumption on U.S. soil.

Valley Meat Company's attorney was also quick to take issue with King's analysis. According to the NewMexicowatchdog.org website, Dunn said the Attorney General's move is politically motivated.

“Legally, the AG’s office is in left field,” Dunn was quoted by the Watchdog. “It’s just not the threat he’s purporting it to be. This is a publicity stunt. It has to do with a run for governor. Coming from his agricultural background, he should know better … There is not an issue with food safety.”