A lot of people are pretty upset about the fact that we are still without a new farm bill. But no one is upset in quite the same way as this New Mexico man who is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Humane Society of the United States, and other people who are standing in the way of him slaughtering and selling horses.


A provision passed last year might’ve effectively made horse slaughter legal for the first time in five years, but it turns out the feds are not exactly chomping at the bit to get back to inspecting those slaughterhouses. There’s no telling whether a new farm bill would restore a ban on the practice by defunding the USDA inspections. (The House has recommended that, but the Senate hasn’t.)

Rick de los Santos and his Valley Meat Company want to force the USDA to allow the country’s first horse meat operation since 2007. But it’s hard out there for a guy who wants to profit off of horse meat. The Los Angeles Times reports:

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After waiting a year for permits, De los Santos, 52, says he’s using the courts to force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to resume inspections necessary to open what would be the nation’s first new horse slaughterhouse since 2007.

“I’ve submitted all the paperwork and have been told all along ‘Oh, it won’t be long now,'” said De los Santos, who owns Valley Meat Co. “I followed all their guidelines. I put more than $100,000 in upgrades and additions on my facilities to handle equine slaughter. And then the government comes back and tells me, ‘We can’t give you the permits. This horse issue has turned into a political game.’

“So what else do you do? I figured it was time to go to court.”

Another idea for something to do: not open a horse slaughterhouse?

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The U.S. has been without them since the feds defunded USDA inspection of horse meat facilities in 2006. The last three slaughterhouses paid their own million-dollar inspection bills until closing.

Horses aren’t any more or less sustainable than the other hoofed animals we raise for meat, though we inexplicably love them more. De los Santos makes solid arguments for humane slaughter stateside as opposed to the current system of shipping animals to dirtier deaths in other countries, where horse meat is socially acceptable. (This argument being a slippery slope toward dog burgers, cat stews, and A Modest Proposal.)

The USDA has until January to respond to the suit, and we have until any day now to stop eating so dang many hoofed animals of any kind.

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