A judge has blocked a Missouri company from obtaining a permit for a horse slaughter facility, at least temporarily.
Cole County Judge Daniel Green ordered the Department of Natural Resources wait to issue a wastewater permit to Rains Natural Meats, which had proposed to operate the facility near Gallatin, until after he hears the case.
The company submitted an application to DNR for the permit, which would allow it to collect and land-apply the wastewater from its proposed horse slaughter facility.
But three parties sued the DNR to block the permit. One is Barbara Sink, a Daviess County resident who is described in the lawsuit as “passionate about horses” and would be “aggrieved” if the horse slaughter plant were to open, and the other two are Missouri horse rescue groups.
The opponents — staunch opponents of horse slaughter — argue the facility would involve the slaughter of horses treated with a gamut of drugs that could be dangerous to human health.
“While the type of permit Rains applied for would allow the discharge of certain substances, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, oil and grease, the permit does not authorize the storage and land application of these equine drugs which are banned for use in humans and other animals,” said Steve Jeffery, attorney for the plaintiffs. “Consequently, DNR lacks legal authority to approve Rains’ application.”
David Rains, vice president of Rains Natural Meats, called the judge’s order “illegal” and said he was fighting to have it overturned. “It’s all done on emotion and not on science,” he said.
Rains said opponents of the proposed horse-slaughter plant have argued runoff from the facility would contaminate the water or soil in the area. But “all the blood and the offal goes
to the rendering companies, so none of it is dumped by any means,” he said.
His company has intervened in the lawsuit and said the next showdown will be at a hearing set for Thursday.
According to the petition filed by Jeffery, four horse veterinarians provided information that horses can receive more than 100
different drugs that are not authorized for use in humans, cattle, hogs or poultry. They also said studies show those drugs are contained in the wastewater at horse slaughter facilities.
USDA officials have suggested that Rains Natural Meats is on the verge of securing a permit from the Food Safety Inspection Service to open the horse slaughter plant. FSIS has already issued two other permits for horse-slaughter operations — one in New Mexico and another in Iowa.
But Rains said the USDA will not give his company a permit until the Missouri Department of Natural Resources green-lights the request to operate a “closed lagoon,” where workers would “clean and wash the animals down after they’re skinned.”
That permit is what’s at issue in the state lawsuit. DNR has until Sept. 5 to file a response to the lawsuit.