One day after New Mexico Watchdog first reported that the Navajo Nation supports a controversial horse meat processing plant in Roswell, two state representatives who are members of the tribe agreed, saying the Valley Meat Co. should be able to open its doors as the first horse slaughterhouse approved in the U.S. in seven years.
And one of them criticized Gov. Susana Martinez for opposing the facility and accused former Gov. Bill Richardson of “grandstanding.”
“The feral horses are destroying (earthen dams) and fences in an attempt to get at crops and feed, making things unusable for the productive livestock that tribal members rely on for their livelihoods,” Rep. Sandra Jeff, D-Crownpoint, in a statement late Thursday to New Mexico Watchdog.
“These feral horses are not domesticated nor are these horses considered
pets, while many such as Gov. Martinez would have you believe otherwise,” Rep. Jeff said.
Martinez, a Republican, has opposed the horse slaughter facility, saying that “horses are a part of our culture.” Last week in a statement with actor Robert Redford, Richardson signed on to a lawsuit against the facility. Fellow Democrats such as State Land Commissioner Ray Powell and Attorney General Gary King also have expressed opposition.
Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, who is a member of the Navajo Nation, also came out in favor of the horse slaughterhouse but used more dispassionate language. “The problem with wild horses is immense,” Clahchischilliage said Thursday. “Something needs to be done.”
“You can’t slaughter your way out of this problem,” countered Phil Carter of Animal Protection New Mexico, who says more humane alternatives exist, such as
gelding stallions and injecting horses with contraceptives. The plant has stoked
a furious debate inside and outside the borders of New Mexico, with supporters
of the facility saying it’s necessary in part because of the numbers of feral horses scattered across the state, many of which that have been abandoned due to the high price of hay, while critics say the killing of the horses is cruel and gives the state a bad reputation. The facility has become increasingly divisive and has caused splits among Republicans and Democrats as well as rural, urban and conservation groups.
“In my area, we have so many wild horses that are breaking down fences, you can’t believe it,” Clahchischilliage said.
The Navajo Nation estimates that 20,000 to 30,000 feral horses are roaming throughout the reservation’s 27,425 square miles. “A lot these horses have no owners, they’re not branded,” Clahchischilliage said.
U.S. District Court judge will hear arguments Friday, August 2, 2013, from opponents of the horse slaughter plant who have filed a motion to keep the plant from opening.
Read Jeff’s entire statement by clicking here.