Opponents immediately called for a permanent ban on the basis of animal protection, but proponents argued multiple years of drought had caused a worse case scenario for horses that were being starved by a lack of water and the high cost of feed, similar to what was happening to cattle herds across the nation.

While the slaughter of horses in the U.S. has been an emotional issue for many years, proponents also point out the issue goes a long way in promoting humane treatment and disposal of equine that are infirmed or otherwise beyond their usefulness and also clears the way for better management of wild herds on non-federal lands.

While commercial processing and consumption of horse meat in the U.S. is illegal, horse meat is a major staple in eight countries worldwide, with China, Mexico and Kazakhstan at the top of the list. Globally, the horse meat industry provides about 4.7 million horses a year for human consumption.

It is an issue that greatly divided groups. Last year the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said they will protest the opening of new slaughterhouses, calling it a “heartbreaking development.” But the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) argued that the ban on horse meat inspections has increased horse neglect and abandonment, and says they were temporarily supporting the idea of commercial slaughter operations.

Since the lawsuit was filed in New Mexico last week there has been no official word from Valley Meat officials or their attorney. But sources near the plant in Roswell reported a flurry of activity at the facility late last week, a possible indication work to prepare the plant for opening may be continuing, at least until a State District judge takes up the latest lawsuit filed by the New Mexico Attorney General.


Also of interest:

Horse slaughter issue divides and confuses: PART I

Horse slaughter issue by the numbers: PART II

Court rules horse slaughter could resume soon