U.S. Appeals Court halts horse slaughter again

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a temporary injunction barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from providing horse meat inspection services to Roswell, New Mexico-based Valley Meat Co., Responsible Transportation in Iowa, and Rains Natural Meats in Missouri.

The order comes after a U.S. District Judge in New Mexico on Friday threw out a lawsuit, which the Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups had filed in July that sought to permanently halt the slaughter of horses.

The suit alleged that USDA failed to carry out environmental reviews before it gave approval to the three companies to slaughter horses for human consumption.

The district judge had found that the grants of inspection were properly issued and dismissed the lawsuit, clearing the way for the processing.

However, in an emergency request to the 10th Circuit on Monday, the animal activist groups argued that an emergency injunction was necessary to prevent environmental harm and the violation of federal environmental laws while their appeal is pending. A two-judge panel of the 10th Circuit granted that request.

Horse meat cannot be sold as food in the United States but it can be exported.

Congress effectively banned horse slaughter in 2006 by saying USDA could not spend any money to inspect the plants. Without USDA inspectors, slaughterhouses cannot operate. The ban had been extended a year at a time as part of USDA funding bills, but the language was omitted in 2011.

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One comment

  1. If you really want to know what happens when you have horse slaughter in a community, I suggest you read this letter written by the former Mayor of Kaufman, Texas, where Dallas Crown slaughter facility was located. It is all true….all of it.
    “From: Paula Bacon, Mayor of Kaufman, TX (2003-2007)
    I am 5th
    generation in Kaufman, TX, a community that spent many difficult years
    trying to deal with a horse slaughter plant. As a resident, business owner (P.G.
    Bacon Lumber Co. “Friendly Service Since 1896”), taxpayer, and one who has
    served 4 terms on the City Council, two as mayor, I believe a horse slaughter plant
    is among the very least desirable things a community would want. A horse
    slaughter plant ranks with a lead smelter plant and sexually oriented businesses, the
    dead opposite of economic development. A horse slaughter plant creates expensive
    environmental problems for taxpayers, profoundly affected our crime rate and
    stigmatizes the community as ‘that place where they slaughter horses’—and good
    development goes elsewhere.
    Knowing what such a plant does to a community, people want to do everything
    they can to keep a horse slaughter plant from moving in. A horse slaughter plant
    creates long term m&o expenses, dominates what people think of your community
    and getting rid of them is almost impossible. A horse slaughter plant is a classic
    example of how a bad decision leads to multiple bad outcomes.
    What I describe (and document) is not what might happen, it is what did happen,
    we lived it. Living with horse slaughter was about their making money and the
    community being their doormat. What we received was entirely negative, some of
    which is described below.

    Horse slaughter interests make promises in terms of jobs and prosperity and
    complying with the laws, but these promises are not borne out. Horse slaughter’s
    promises are thoroughly refuted by the facts.
    Poor pay and dangerous work, all 3 plants operating in the US in 2006 employed
    no more than 178 in jobs most Americans do not want (p.16). Environmental
    violations were the same in all 3 communities: they did not comply with the laws.
    The horse slaughter plant in DeKalb was out of compliance with its wastewater
    permit countless times. The attached photograph (p. 17) shows the brand new,
    state of the art pre-treatment facility tank overflowing with foaming blood and
    waste. Also attached are documents showing they were in violation of
    environmental laws every month after they re-opened until they were closed by
    state law (p. 15). 2
    The third plant in Ft. Worth had numerous, serious OSHA violations as well as
    environmental violations. They clogged sewer lines causing blood to spill into a
    nearby creek, allowed wastewater to flow onto adjacent properties and into the
    creek, and on another occasion the plant was found to have pumped horse blood
    into the creek. [See San Antonio Current, June 19, 2003].
    In Saskatchewan Canada, when Natural Valley Farms horse slaughter plant went
    bankrupt and were ordered closed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, they
    abandoned a lagoon of over 30 million gallons of untreated waste, not including
    blood. After collecting the blood for resale they found there was no market for it
    and were subsequently caught discharging it into a nearby river.
    The plant in Kaufman made repeated reference to being ‘good corporate citizens,’
    but I believe that they were more like corporate thugs as they “neglected to
    perform within the standards required of them” (from staff report to City Council),
    thereby tormenting resident taxpayers and threatening expensive infrastructure. At
    a meeting regarding severe problems with the horse slaughter plant in 2005, the
    wastewater treatment plant manager informed us then that “everything is running
    on high, 24/7 and we have no back-up,” We are even today continuing to pay for
    very expensive replacements and repairs to the plant.
    Had the horse slaughter plant not closed in 2007, our town would have been
    required to spend a minimum of $6 million (“if we are lucky,” according to the
    engineers) to build a new wastewater treatment plant. Within 2 weeks of the horse
    slaughter plant closing, capacity at the plant increased by 52%. The risk of a mega
    million dollar watershed cleanup was also, thankfully taken off the table.
    In 1986 the mayor at the time and council tried to keep the horse slaughter plant
    from re-opening. They had been closed down for a year after the State of Texas
    sued the City and the City sued the plant for continually violating environmental
    laws. [See Kaufman Herald, January 23, 1986, p. 7].
    At that time there was literally blood coming up in people’s bathtubs and toilets
    (difficult to believe but true; please see reference in Kaufman Herald 1986. It is my
    understanding that the horse slaughter plant had used a pump to force waste down
    the sewer system, breaking pipes under the streets and one of the causes for the
    bloody waste in homes). As recently as 2005 the Texas Commission on
    Environmental Quality investigated complaints about water safety and found that 3
    backflow prevention requirements, that prevent things like blood coming into the
    sinks, tubs and toilets of homes and business, were not in place. Seven months
    previously the City had directed the horse slaughter plant to comply with the
    requirements, but very typically the plant had declined to do so. The City received
    a hefty fine that taxpayers paid and the plant continued operations, business as
    The horse slaughter plant operated in continual violation of its wastewater permit.
    I will gladly provide you with detailed reports from my City Manager, Police
    Chief, and Public Works Director regarding odor and wastewater effluence
    violations at the Dallas Crown horse slaughter plant in the City of Kaufman. The
    reports reference “decaying meat [which] provides a foul odor and is an attraction
    for vermin and carrion,” containers conveyed “uncovered and leaking liquids,”
    there are “significant foul odors during the daily monitoring of the area,” and
    “Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of
    Reports include descriptive language such as “blood flowing east and west in the
    ditches from your plant,” “It has been over 45 days [it had been 59 days] and no
    apparent cleanup has occurred,” “Your system has not improved and subsequently
    it has gotten a lot worse,” “Words cannot express the seriousness” of recent
    violations and the “adverse effects on the wastewater treatment plant,” and “Please
    be sure trailers are secured before leaving your premises to prevent spills,” noting
    also “bones and blood laying in front of the facility,” problems with bones and
    parts in neighboring yards and the attraction of “dogs and other animals.”
    Attached here (pp. 18ff) are a few of the many police summons showing violations
    related to BOD (bio-oxygen demand), TSS (total suspended solids), chemical spill,
    and pH. The amounts are very high; for example their permit allowed them a level
    of 2,000, well above the normal limit of 250. The violation on the summons shows
    they exceeded by 33,000 the 2,000 limit. TSS permitted was 1,500 which they
    exceeded by 4,200. The wastewater treatment plant was ‘shocked’ on more than
    one occasion by illegal pH levels.
    The horse slaughter plant also denied access to the plant for environmental testing
    for 9 months, despite requirements by ordinance, letter agreement and court order.
    There was no testing done at all initially. City staff, the City Manager, the City 4
    Council and the City Attorney all communicated to the plant manager the necessity
    of access to protect the wastewater treatment plant and the creek system. After 2
    months the horse slaughter plant began doing their own testing with no chain of
    custody in place. After being in violation 2 of the first 4 samples they pulled for
    themselves and took to a company they paid directly for the testing, they were not
    in violation anymore–which had virtually never before happened in their 20+year
    history (see beginning December 2004 on the spreadsheet, p. 10).
    During the last few years of operation, the horse slaughter plant quit paying fines,
    and instead requested individual jury trials for each citation issued for their
    violations, a cost prohibitive to the City and our legal budget. During one 19 month
    period the plant had $916,000 in potential fines and demanded separate jury trials
    on citations for violations [see spreadsheet]. These were never resolved and the
    City was left ‘holding the bag.’
    Residents complained to the Texas Department of Health regarding blood and
    other matter leaking onto the streets. Containers of offal and hides leaked blood
    during transport on our streets and highways.
    “Quite frankly, we don’t want you here,” the mayor at the time announced as the
    council meeting began in 1986. “That plant has never made a dime for this city and
    they never will,” he said. The city administrator added the horse slaughter plant has
    been “a lousy part of the community.” [Please see attached articles from Kaufman
    Herald, pp. 7ff].
    This was no less true when I became mayor. The horse slaughter plant kept us
    ensnared in the courts with endless appeals and injunctions. They had plenty of
    money to keep us endlessly in court; the City’s pockets were not near so deep.
    And no wonder. During nuisance hearings, the horse slaughter plant was required
    to produce tax returns, their most recent return revealing they had paid $5 in
    federal income tax on $12 million dollars in sales. In the preceding 5 years Dallas
    Crown’s federal income tax was .3% or 1/3 of 1% of sales. [Please see attached
    2004 tax return, p. 13] A copy of the forensic analysis of the horse slaughter
    plant’s returns [please see John S. Rainey letter, p. 14] determined that the plant
    sold to itself at a loss so that the profits only surfaced overseas (this involved 3
    corporations, each having identical ownership). 5
    There was no sales tax since they sold to themselves overseas and property tax
    revenue to the City was generally less than $2,000 per year. We did not benefit
    from having a horse slaughter plant; we paid.
    In August of 2005, our City Council voted unanimously to send the issue to the
    Board of Adjustments for termination of their non-conforming use status. In
    March of 2006, the Board of Adjustments voted unanimously to order Dallas
    Crown closed, but the plant was able to tie up enforcement in the courts until they
    were finally closed under state law in February of 2007. It was the 1949 state law
    banning horse slaughter for human consumption that was finally enforced and
    forced the closure of the plant.
    Someone recently said to me that horse slaughter interests are arrogant and not
    accustomed to challenge. They think just saying something somehow makes it true
    and that laws and communities can be ignored. Then he added — But they are
    I hope he is right. It didn’t ruin us but darn near. We are recovering despite the
    economy. Good development is occurring and our crime rate has dropped like a
    rock, from a rate of over 400 to 135 [See city-data.com, p. 6].
    Were there any positives to having a horse slaughter plant? No, there were not. The
    horse slaughter plant did buy an oversized American flag for the nearby American
    Legion. But the flag, like horse slaughter itself, made a mockery of our community
    and values. It did not cover or make up for the multitude of sins horse slaughter
    As one neighbor said recently, “We can breathe again. Life is much better.” And
    we buy our own flag.
    Please contact me if I can be of help.
    Yours truly,

    Paula Bacon
    Mayor 2003-07, Kaufman, Texas ”

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