08/09/2013 4:22PM

Bond ordered in horse slaughter case

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A federal magistrate has ordered animal rights groups that won a temporary ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. to post a $500,000 bond to potentially cover revenue lost by the plants during the trial, the Associated Press reports.

If the animal rights groups lose in their legal battle to halt the opening of two horse slaughter facilities in New Mexico and Iowa, the half-million dollar bond will cover the companies’ costs and lost profits for the next 30 days. A federal hearing to decide whether the facilities will be permitted to operate will be held during that time frame.

The Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue in Colorado are among the groups who successfully filed a temporary restraining order last week that stalled the opening of slaughter facilities by Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa, and Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M. Prospective plants in Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma were also named in the lawsuit.

Their action came on the grounds that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to conduct the necessary environmental studies before issuing permits to the plants.

“The bond requires the plaintiffs to put their money where their mouth is,” lawyer Pat Rogers, representing Responsible Transportation, told the Associated Press. “There are real-life consequences to these actions and we’re appreciative of the judge recognizing that.”

According to representatives of Valley Meat, the New Mexico plant was prepared to open last Monday, and slaughter about 120 horses a day at $350 per horse. The estimated losses by the slaughter plants were disputed by attorneys for the animal rights groups.

In June, Valley Meat was the first plant to be granted a horse slaughter permit since funding for plant inspections of those facilities was reinstated in 2011. Responsible Transportation was approved for a permit a few days later. The USDA has included language in its 2014 budget proposal that would eliminate federal funding for the inspection of horses at slaughter facilities.