Iowa firm drops plan to slaughter horses

Horses held in export pens before transported for slaughter.
Horses held in export pens before being transported for slaughter. © Kathy Milani/The HSUS

One of two companies with federal approval to operate a horse slaughter plant is dropping its plans.

Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa, now intends to convert to beef processing.

The US Department of Agriculture had given the company approval to begin slaughtering horses, but has been held up by a legal challenge by horse advocates who argued the department should have conducted an environmental review before granting approval.

A judge delayed the opening of the plants with a temporary restraining order, pending a final determination of the matter.

“Responsible Transportation made a smart move by throwing in the towel on horse slaughter,” said Carol Griglione, the Iowa state director of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), one of the parties in the legal challenge to the plant’s opening.

“Horse meat is a product of cruelty that Americans don’t want to buy, and horse slaughter pollutes the air and water wherever it occurs. It has no place in Iowa or any other state.”

The HSUS, Front Range Equine Rescue and other horse advocates filed suit against USDA last month, arguing an  environmental review was required before the department agreed to place inspectors in horse slaughter plants.

Valley Meat Co. in New Mexico is the other company with federal approval. It remains determined to open.

In doing so, it would become the first horse slaughter plant to operate on US soil since 2007.

The closure of the last plants six years ago did not end the slaughter trade. Horses are instead shipped long distances to plants in Canada and Mexico.

Slaughter proponents argue that regulated plants on US soil are a better alternative to shipping horses long distances out of the country.

Opponents say slaughter is cruel and inhumane, and horses, being flighty by nature, are not suited to abattoir operations.

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4 thoughts on “Iowa firm drops plan to slaughter horses

  • August 16, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I am so happy that we have one less potential horse slaughter plant operating in the U.S.

    Thank you, Responsible Transportation, for seeing the light!

  • August 20, 2013 at 9:46 am

    The United States is in need of Horse Slaughter Plants inorder to improve the Quality and Value of horses in the the United States. Horses that used to be worth thousands of dollars are now worth little to nothing thanks to the stop of horse slaughter. People that have never owned a horse in their life need to but out on the subject. Horse Slaughter is a necessary part of the Horse Market. As we have seen since the 2006 Banned we now have a abbundance of unwanted and starving horses in the United States, and if we don’t do something the problem is only going to get worse. And for all of these animal wellfare groups they need to be the ones who have to feed and tend to all of the unwanted horses in the United States.

    • September 19, 2013 at 10:36 am

      The horse slaughter plant closings didn’t have any impact on unwanted horse’s. When they were open there were just as many horse’s out there as there is now, as a matter of fact, there may be less of them. Opening up horse slaughter plants will only give easier access to horse’s that breeders/racers/killbuyers/theives etc want to eliminate from their own herds. If they would only take the time to resell/rehome them, even that would be eliminated. Horse rescue organizations have done a marvelous job of care for/rehoming unwanted horse’s and have given forever homes to those that have completed their cycles in life. It is a shame that some horse buyers aren’t more educated on the work/cost/time a horse takes. Buying a horse is just the start!!!


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