ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals court has cleared the way for companies in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa to resume domestic horse slaughter.
In an order Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver removed an emergency injunction that had blocked the plants from opening.
The Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups appealed after a federal judge in Albuquerque rejected their lawsuit alleging the Department of Agriculture failed to conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits for the slaughterhouses.
An attorney for Valley Meat Company of Roswell, New Mexico and Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Missouri says by lifting the stay, the appellate court is saying it's unlikely the protection groups would win their appeal.
Still, attorney Blair Dunn says it could be months before the court makes a final ruling on the animal protection groups' appeal.
A federal appeals court has temporarily halted plans to resume domestic horse slaughter. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver Monday issued a temporary injunction barring the Department of Agriculture from inspecting the plants.
Slaughterhouses in Missouri and New Mexico had hoped to start up as soon as this week after a federal judge in Albuquerque on Friday threw out a lawsuit by The Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups.
The groups filed an immediate appeal and won the emergency injunction.
The order continues the on-again, off-again plans to resume domestic horse slaughter six years after Congress cut funding for inspectors, forcing the last big slaughterhouses to close.
A Missouri company expects to get the go ahead to slaughter horses after an Iowa company garnered federal approval yesterday. USDA officials say Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Missouri could get permission later this week.
The facility 75 miles north of Kansas City has the current capacity to slaughter 30 horses a week.
In 2005, the U.S. Congress effectively ban horse slaughter when it eliminated funding for USDA inspections. The funding prohibition expired in 2011, effectively lifting the ban.