11/01/2013 7:39PM

Court ruling clears way for horse slaughter in U.S.


A federal judge in New Mexico issued a ruling Friday allowing two horsemeat facilities to begin operations next week, striking down a lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of the United States and other groups and clearing the way for horse slaughter to resume in the U.S. for the first time since 2007.

The Associated Press reports that Christina Armijo, judge for the United States District Court of New Mexico, dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society and others that alleged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits to Valley Meat Co. of New Mexico and Responsible Transportation in Iowa allowing them to open slaughter facilities.

The lawsuit was filed last summer and in August, Armijo issued a restraining order temporarily halting the facilities’ operation, which expired on Oct. 29. Attorneys for the animal rights groups filed for an extension, but that was overturned Friday.

Responsible Transportation announced after the original restraining order was ordered that it was halting plans to conduct horse slaughter. However, another company, Valley Rains Natural Meats of Missouri, stated to the Associated Press on Friday that it had plans to open a horse slaughter facility as early as next week.

Horse-slaughter plants operated in 2007 before Congress banned the practice by eliminating funding for plant inspections. Funds were restored in 2011, but the USDA had not granted any permits to open plants until this year.