“I oppose the slaughtering of horses,” the Republican governor said. “I think horses are a part of our culture, they work with the ranchers and cowboys in New Mexico and I just oppose slaughtering horses in the United States.”
On Tuesday, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack said a facility near Roswell will open soon, becoming the first horse slaughtering facility in the United States in six years. “We are going to do this, and I would imagine that it would be done relatively soon,” Vilsack told Associated Press.
Last week, the USDA re-inspected the Valley Meat Co., which has been fighting for more than a year to proceed. As the date of a possible opening nears, New Mexico has increasingly become a focus of passionate debate. Back in 2006, a prohibition was placed in the U.S. preventing horse slaughter and the last plant was closed in 2007. But in 2011, Congress quietly removed the rider enforcing the ban from an omnibus spending act.
Animal organizations such as the Humane Society are urging the federal government to reinstate the ban but counterarguments have been made in favor of the Valley Meat facility. With the rising cost of hay, more and more horses have been simply abandoned and left to starve in the Southwest and advocates for a slaughterhouse say it’s better to have unwanted and dying horses put out of their misery in a federally-inspected facility than have them sent to plants in places like Mexico, where they often meet gruesome deaths in unsanitary conditions.
The Obama administration has come out in favor of reinstating the ban but that would take an act of Congress.“If that doesn’t happen, then we are duty-bound to do what needs to be done to allow that plant to begin processing,” Vilsack said.
Gov. Martinez said she hasn’t changed her mind from a year ago, when she told New Mexico Watchdog she opposed the Roswell horse slaughter plant, saying her administration would send a letter to the USDA asking it to turn down Valley Meat’s request