08/14/2013 2:27PM

Iowa company drops plans to open horse slaughter plant

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One of two companies that applied to slaughter horses and earlier this year was granted a permit to open has now dropped the plan, saying it will focus on beef instead.

Keaton Walker, representing Iowa slaughterhouse owner Responsible Transportation, told the Associated Press that the company could not afford to wait for the outcome of legal wrangling over the horse slaughter issue. Earlier this month, a federal judge issued a restraining order against the Iowa plant and another proposed horse-slaughter facility, Valley Meat’s plant in Roswell, N. M., as part of a lawsuit that humane groups, equine welfare organizations, and others filed against the United States Department of Agriculture after it cleared the way for equine slaughter in both states. After receiving USDA inspectors’ approval, both the Iowa and New Mexico plants had planned to begin slaughtering horses early this month.

“We just can’t sit with our heads down,” Walker told the AP. “We have to get back to work.”

He said the Sigourney, Iowa, plant, which employs 18 people, would apply to operate as a cattle processing plant.

Carol Griglione, Iowa state director for the The Humane Society of the United States –one of the plaintiffs in the suit against the USDA – said in an HSUS release that “Responsible Transportation made a smart move by throwing in the towel on horse slaughter. Horse meat is a product of cruelty that Americans don’t want to buy, and horse slaughter pollutes the air and water wherever it occurs. It has no place in Iowa or any other state.”