The parties suing USDA to stop horse slaughter before it can start up again in the U.S. agree with the government on one thing: they, too, want to get the court case they brought over as quickly as possible. Bruce A. Wagman, attorney for the plaintiffs, has filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in New Mexico supporting the government’s request for an expedited hearing and briefing on the merits.
Wagman, who represents the Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue, Horses For Life Foundation and others in the federal lawsuit, has suggested a schedule that could put the issue in the hands of Federal District Court Judge M. Christina Armijo by Oct. 10. New Mexico Attorney General Gary K. King joined in Wagman’s motion, which was filed Tuesday.
Judge Armijo has scheduled a Sept. 3 status conference, which attorneys can access by telephone.Wagman still wants Armijo to rule on his motions to change the Aug. 2 temporary restraining order that blocks two companies with grants of inspection for horsemeat packing from starting those operations unless permitted by the court and to reduce or eliminate the costly bond plaintiffs must come up with for the case to proceed.
On the TRO, Wagman wants it to only prohibit USDA from providing equine inspection services to Valley Meat in New Mexico and Responsible Transportation in Iowa. Currently, it also prohibits those companies from operating horse-slaughter businesses, even though the plaintiffs are not suing them. As long as USDA is barred from doing inspections, horses cannot be slaughtered for human consumption.
That became a big concern for the plaintiffs after a federal magistrate imposed a bond against them of nearly $500,000 a month to cover the possibility that USDA wins the case. In other words, it’s meant to cover the economic harm imposed by the plaintiffs if they lose.
Government attorneys representing USDA’s top three food-safety officials say it’s time to end the court battle that has temporarily banned horse slaughter in the U.S. They’ve asked the U.S. District Court in New Mexico to move immediately
to an expedited hearing and ruling on the merits of the case.
This would eliminate the next step that had been anticipated in the case – a hearing on whether to grant the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction. They already won a temporary restraining order.
Source: Food Safety News by Dan Flynn
BLM to test 3 shade options for wild horses at Palomino Valley facility
The Bureau of Land Management's Palomino Valley National Wild Horse and Burro Center will begin testing three different shade options for wild horses and burros over the next two months.
The decision comes after BLM officials met with citizens who were concerned about the animals when the temperature climbs.
The BLM will install the structures as soon as materials arrive at the center on Pyramid Highway, some 20 miles northeast of Reno.
Eric Reid, Acting PVC Facility Manager, is coordinating with the National Mustang Association, of Utah, The Humane Society of the United States and the Northern Nevada Correctional Center to obtain the materials.
As new information is available on the progress of the shade structures, BLM will post updates to www.blm.gov/whb
Government attorneys representing USDA’s top three food safety officials say it’s time to end the court battle that has temporarily banned horse slaughter in the U.S. They’ve asked the U.S. District Court in New Mexico to move immediately to an expedited hearing and ruling on the merits of the case.
This would eliminate the next step that had been anticipated in the case – a hearing on whether to grant the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction. They had already won a temporary restraining order.
And, in another motion, Robert G. Dreher, acting assistant U.S. attorney general, has asked the court for permission to file a so-called “surreply” to respond “to Plaintiff’s numerous accusations that Federal Defendants and the United States have acted in bad faith in opposing Plaintiffs’ motion to modify the temporary restraining order and objections to Magistrate Judge Scott’s imposition of a bond requirement ….” In his request, Dreher cites a dozen specific instances where the plaintiffs made accusations that he claims are “unfounded and untrue, and easily refuted. In one, the Plaintiff’s say the U.S. hopes to divert funds from ‘important animal rescue and sheltering’ and ‘other public interest cases challenging federal agency abuses.’
“Since the sole focus of the Plaintiff’s reply brief is to make new accusations that attack the motivations and integrity of the United States, Federal Defendants should be afforded the opportunity to set the record straight by filing a surreply,” Dreher’s motion continues.
The federal defendants are U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator Al Almanza.
They were sued by HSUS, Front Range Equine Rescue, Horses For Life Foundation and others for giving “grants of inspection” to two small horse meatpacking plants, one in Iowa and the other in New Mexico, that planned to open during the first week of August. However, a federal judge in New Mexico issued a temporarily restraining order on Aug. 2 stopping both companies from going forward.
While winning the temporary retaining order, the plaintiffs have strenuously objected to the bond imposed on them by a federal magistrate. The bond, almost $500,000 a month, is intended to reimburse the horse-slaughter companies if the plaintiffs lose the case.
The assistant AG says an expedited hearing on the merits will reduce the “burden and exposure” of both the plaintiffs and the two companies. While a hearing on the preliminary injunction was promised within 30 days of the Aug. 2 temporary restraining order, a date has not yet been made public.
Source: Food Safety News
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