Today our lawyers filed an emergency motion to expand the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against horse slaughter to include Rains Natural Meats located in Gallatin, Missouri.
Rains Natural Meats recently met all the statutory and regulatory requirements and has now demanded that the USDA send inspectors to their facility by as early as September 23rd so they can begin slaughtering horses.
If federal Judge Christina Armijo agrees, the TRO filed today will put an immediate halt to operations at Rains Natural Meats (Missouri). Valley Meat Company (New Mexico) and Responsible Transportation (Iowa) are currently under the TRO granted to us in court on August 2nd.
The backbone of the case is that the USDA hasn’t conducted the requisite NEPA analysis for opening commercial horse slaughter operations. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.
Click Here to View the Emergency Motion
Help Ban Horse Slaughter Nationwide! Contact Congress in support of the SAFE Act. Passage of the SAFE Act will not only ensure that predatory horse slaughterers cannot reopen their doors here in the U.S.— it will also stop the trafficking of horses to slaughterhouses over American borders. CLICK HERE to Take Action!
RENO, Nev. — The Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press says the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is using safety concerns as an excuse to limit media access to wild horse roundups across the West in violation of the First Amendment.
The National Press Photographers Association and more than a dozen newspaper companies joined the committee in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals late Monday to back an advocacy group waging a series of legal battles over mustang roundups in Nevada.
Horseback Magazine photographer Laura Leigh and others “have a right to see what happens" during the roundups, the media groups said, urging the court to be “highly skeptical of assertions by the BLM that restrictions placed on media access were done for administrative convenience and/or to satisfy safety concerns."
“People in an open society do not demand infallibility from their institutions, but it is difficult for them to accept what they are prohibited from observing," they said.
The 9th Circuit sent the case brought by Leigh’s advocacy group, Wild Horse Education, back to U.S. Judge Larry Hicks in Reno last year to determine if the BLM limits are constitutional.
Hicks ruled in 2011 that a balancing of the interests of the agency and public access to a roundup in Nevada didn’t warrant granting an injunction to block the gathers. But a three-judge panel of the appellate court ruled he failed to determine whether those restrictions violated First Amendment protections.
“When the government announces it is excluding the press for reasons such as administrative convenience, preservation of evidence, or protection of reporters’ safety, its real motive may be to prevent the gathering of information about government abuses or incompetence," Appellate Judge Milan Smith Jr. wrote in the 18-page opinion in February 2012.
BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said Tuesday that the agency had no comment on the latest filing.
Agency officials testified at a hearing earlier this year that they do their best to provide public access to the roundups and temporary holding of the animals and denied Leigh’s claims she was singled out to be kept away from the mustangs.
The National Press Club, Nevada Press Association, Reno-Gazette Journal, The Seattle Times Company, the Las Vegas-Review Journal’s owner Stephens Media and others joined in the new brief arguing that journalists routinely face far more
dangerous assignments, especially at war. They say reporters should have the same unrestricted access to public rangeland as they do to battlefields.
BLM’s concerns are “speculative at best and at worst are overly broad and ambiguous, often arbitrarily and capriciously chilling visual journalists’ ability to cover matters of public concern," they said.
“If they are willing to assume such risks in a warzone, it should certainly be considered that such safety concerns by the government are nothing but mere pretext when it comes to horse gathers ... BLM land is more akin to an open park than a battlefield, and a horse gather is less dangerous than open combat or fires, floods, explosions and other calamities where safety concerns are at stake."
Hicks said during a hearing earlier this year that he recognizes it’s an issue that “strikes deeply in people’s emotions and interests."
Source: Bend Bulletin by Scott Sonner
A third business has met all the statutory and regulatory requirements to require USDA to provide inspection services when it begins processing horsemeat for human consumption.
Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys representing USDA have informed the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico that it may want to expand its temporary restraining order against horse slaughter to include Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, MO.
That restraining order currently only prevents USDA from providing inspection services to Valley Meat in New Mexico and Responsible Transportation in Iowa, the first two businesses to qualify since a five-year ban on spending federal money on horse slaughter inspections ended in 2012. “When this court entered its temporary restraining order, Rains Natural Meats had not yet met the requirements for a grant of inspection, and thus the temporary restraining order expressly applies only to FSIS’s (Food Safety and Inspection Service’s) inspection of the Valley Meat and Responsible Transportation facilities,” the DOJ attorneys wrote, adding, “But circumstances have changed, and Rains Natural Meats is now eligible and requesting a grant of inspection.”
The government attorneys said that, while they were not waiving any of their earlier objections to federal Judge M. Christina Armijo’s order, they understood that she may want to amend it in light of the new reality.
Rains Natural Meats is a small meat and poultry slaughter and processing facility with about 5,300 square feet. Built in 1998, it has been a USDA-inspected facility for various meat and poultry processing since it was built, but the business has had difficulties due to the slow economic recovery.
Owner David Rains opted to file for an equine grant of inspection on Jan. 13. While waiting for the application to be approved, he told local media outlets that he’s been driving a school bus to pay his bills.
In its “Decision Memo,” USDA said the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) requires government inspectors to conduct ante-mortem inspection of all amenable species, including cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, mules and other equines, including a post-mortem inspection of “carcasses and parts of all amenable species.”
“Horses, mules, and other equines have been among the livestock species that are amenable to the FMIA since it was amended by the Wholesome Meat Act in 1967,” wrote Philip S. Derfler, FSIS deputy administrator.
FSIS is required to conduct an examination and inspection of the methods of slaughter to ensure they are in compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which calls for prevention of needless livestock suffering.
In the USDA memo, Derfler says the decision to provide inspection services under the FMIA “is purely ministerial because if a commercial horse slaughter plant meets all of the statutory and regulatory requirement for receiving a grant of federal inspection, FSIS has no discretion or authority under the FMIA to deny the grant on other grounds or to consider and choose among alternative ways to achieve the agency’s statutory objectives.”
“Therefore, a grant of federal inspection services under the FMIA is not a major federal action that is subject to NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requirements,” he added.
Horse rescue and animal-welfare groups have sued in federal court in New Mexico, charging that NEPA requires USDA to conduct environmental reviews before granting inspection services for horse slaughter. Judge Armijo granted a temporary restraining order just ahead of the start dates for Valley Meat and Responsible Transportation.
In a separate proceeding, a federal magistrate has ruled that a plaintiff’s bond of almost $500,000 per month might be required to cover potential losses by the defendants while the case is argued. The bond is intended to compensate the defendants if the plaintiffs lose.
Government attorneys then suggested the case be accelerated and the plaintiffs agreed. Both sides are now preparing briefs that should frame the issues for the judge to decide by about Oct. 10. After she rules, the losing side will likely appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
About 175,000 horses from the United States are exported for slaughter each year to Canada and Mexico. New USDA-inspected horse-slaughter facilities in the U.S. would export horsemeat for human consumption to areas of the world where
there is a demand, mainly Europe and Asia.
Source: Food Safety News by Dan Flynn
>>> Click Here to View the Department of Justice's Legal Notice regarding grant of inspection for Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, Missouri.
MONTH / yEAR