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Horse slaughter plants prepare to open

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 11:06 a.m. CDT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — After months of legal wrangling and false starts in a more than two-year battle to resume domestic horse slaughter, plants in New Mexico and Missouri were working Monday to begin processing equine for human consumption.

The efforts come on the heels of an order late Friday by a federal appeals court that lifted an emergency stay on the companies’ plans.

“They are pushing full steam ahead to be ready to go as soon as possible,” said Blair Dunn, an Albuquerque attorney who represents Valley Meat Co. of Roswell and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo.

A third company, Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, was reviewing its options, having already converted to beef.

It was the third time in five months that the horse plants were scrambling to open. Valley, which led the effort to resume domestic horse slaughter two years ago after Congress lifted its ban on the practice, along with Rains and Responsible, were preparing to open in August when The Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups sued to contest the Department of Agriculture’s permitting process.

A federal judge in Albuquerque issued a temporary restraining order, prompting the Iowa company to convert its operations to beef. But U.S. District Judge Christine Armijo threw out the lawsuit in November, allowing all three companies to proceed.

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