A US District Court judge in New Mexico issued a temporary restraining order to block federal inspections at a proposed Missouri horse slaughter plant.
It follows a similar temporary order preventing federal inspections at a proposed horse abattoir in Roswell, New Mexico.
Both orders were in response to a motion filed by the Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue, along with other horse protection organizations and several individuals.
The latest order blocks the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) providing inspections at Rains Natural Meats in Missouri.
Such inspections would allow the facility to begin slaughtering horses for human consumption.
“This is a temporary but important reprieve for horses,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice-president of animal protection litigation for the humane society.
“The horse slaughter industry is a predatory enterprise that buys up young and healthy horses and kills them to sell the meat to Europe and Japan.
“We will continue to make the case that the US should reject this industry, just as we would reject a slaughter industry for dogs or cats gathered up under false pretenses and killed as a food export commodity.”
The plaintiffs are challenging the USDA decision to approve inspections, arguing that the department violated the National Environmental Policy Act by authorizing them without conducting the necessary environmental review.
A similar order banning inspections is in place for an Iowa plant, which indicated in mid-August it intended to focus on beef processing instead.
The fate of the temporary restraining orders rest on the plaintiffs successfully pressing home their argument in a more substantive hearing.