Horse slaughter could resume on US soil within weeks after a court removed a temporary ban preventing the industry from resuming.
The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver lifted a temporary injunction on Friday in a case in which equine advocates are challenging the US Department of Agriculture decision to grant plant inspections, as required under federal law.
The department said it had no choice if all requirements were met, but the advocates argue the agency should not have approved the inspections without first obtaining a proper environment assessment.
The lifting of the injunction opens the way for Valley Meat Company in Roswell, New Mexico; Rains Natural Meats, in Gallatin, Missouri; and Responsible Transportation, in Sigourney, Iowa; to start horse slaughter operations.
It is understood the New Mexico and Missouri plants could be operating in weeks. The Iowa plant has since been converted to operate as a cattle abattoir
Horses have not been slaughtered on US soil since 2007.
The Denver court lifted the temporary injunction, which had been in place since November 4, after ruling that the advocates had not met their burden of proof for the injunction to remain in place pending the outcome of their challenge of the US Department of Agriculture’s decision.
A final ruling in the case is likely to be months away.
Plaintiffs in the case include the Humane Society of the United States, which promised to fight on and seek a quick resolution of the case in the 10th Circuit.
Sharp divisions remain in the US over horse slaughter.
Since slaughter ended in the US, more than 100,000 horses have been trucked long distances each year to plants in Mexico and Canada.