On August 2, 2013, judge Christina Armijo of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico in Albuquerque granted a 30-day temporary restraining order preventing the commencement of horse slaughter at two plants—Valley Meat Co. LLC in Roswell, New Mexico and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa.
Earlier this summer, both of those plants had received Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) permits, which allow placement of USDA personnel at processing plants to carry out horsemeat inspections. Horse processing was slated to begin at both plants on August 5, 2013.
This would have been the first time horse slaughter had taken place in the U.S. since 2007, when a combination of court rulings and legislation caused the closure of the last two domestic processing plants operating in Illinois and Texas.
The lawsuit against the slaughter plants was brought by the Humane Society of the United States and other groups who oppose horse slaughter.
According to some sources, the court’s ruling was based on an allegedly flawed environmental review of one or both of the plants. Further, the court has reportedly prohibited USDA inspectors from further involvement with the plants.
Arsonists set fire to Valley Meat Company’s plant on or around July 30, 2013, just before the plant was scheduled to commence operations. “They tried to burn the place down,” Valley Meat Co. owner Rick De Los Santos said in reference to opponents who have been making threats against the company over the past year.
A bond hearing is scheduled for today, whereby the court will determine the amount of money the plaintiffs must put up as a bond to cover the plants’ economic losses, in the event that plaintiffs lose the suit.