Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the southern New Mexico plant that has been fighting for more than a year for permission to slaughter horses will open soon, unless Congress reinstates a ban on the practice.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Vilsack said the department is working to make sure the process is handled properly for the opening of what would be the first domestic horse slaughter house in six years.
“We are going to do this, and I would imagine that it would be done relatively soon,” Vilsack said.
Valley Meat Co. sued the Department of Agriculture last year, claiming that inaction on its application was driven by emotional political debates and that the delays had cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The USDA re-inspected the plant last week.
“It will open unless Congress restores the ban on horse slaughter that they had in place,” said Vilsack. “If that doesn’t happen, then we are duty-bound to do what needs to be done to allow that plant to begin processing.”