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Horse-Meat Plant Inspection Halted by U.S. Appeals Court

Federal inspection at horse-meat plants, which was scheduled to resume as early as today, was temporary halted by a U.S. appeals court following an emergency request by opponents of commercial horse slaughter.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver issued a temporary stay today “pending further order” and instructed the U.S. Agriculture Department to respond by Nov. 7 to the opponents’ request to block inspection at three slaughterhouses while they appeal a federal judge’s Nov. 1 order allowing inspections to proceed without an environmental impact review.

The U.S. Humane Society and the state of New Mexico are among opponents who said today that, unless the appeals court acted, the USDA will allow horse-slaughter to proceed in the U.S. for the first time in more than six years, “exposing the environment to the toxic byproducts created by the slaughter of animals raised outside a regulated industry.”

From 2006 through 2011, Congress halted funding for inspection at horse-slaughter plants. The prohibition on funding wasn’t extended for 2012 and 2013, thereby allowing commercial horse slaughter to resume legally. The USDA has received applications for horse-slaughter inspections in five states, according to the Nov. 1 court order.

The case is Front Range Equine Rescue v. Vilsack, 13-2187, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (Denver).

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