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Monday, July 23, 2012

Rockville MO Horse Slaughter Plant Update: Nothing Doing So Far

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Sue Wallis, CEO of Unified Equine and Wyoming State Representative.
  • Sue Wallis, CEO of Unified Equine and Wyoming State Representative.
In June of this year Sue Wallis, the CEO of Unified Equine, announced that a shuttered cattle processing plant in Rockville, Missouri, would soon be home to her company's first horse slaughterhouse in America. Work was to begin immediately so that horses could be processed for human consumption as soon as this fall.

The Kansas City Star checked out the progress made so far on the plant, and discovered that no work has begun. In fact, Unified Equine doesn't even own the property at this point. As ever, Sue Wallis is upbeat in the face of this development this development; she told an Oklahoma TV station that she's currently negotiating for a plant to be operating in Oklahoma "by the end of the summer."

If you're a horse, this autumn is shaping up to be an absolute nightmare, no?

Probably not. The Rockville plant has ownership issues and legal troubles that may hold up its proposed refurbishment for some time. Opposition to the Oklahoma plant has already mobilized.

And then there's the matter of government involvement in the project. Any horse slaughter plant will need to be inspected on a regular basis by the USDA. When the Daily RFT spoke with Valerie Pringle, equine specialist with the Humane Society of the United States, she noted that "It costs an estimated $5 million a year for the USDA to inspect one horse slaughter plant." The USDA told Tulsa, Oklahoma's KJRH that the agency "still needs significant time to update the testing process and has not specified how soon they plan to do any inspections." (Incidentally, there are a host of chemicals and drugs used to keep horses healthy that might keep them from passing inspection if that day comes.)

Additionally, legislation such as the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act continues to work its way through Congress. There's also  the amendment to Fiscal Year 2013 Agricultural Appropriations Bill proposed in June by  Representative Jim Moran (West Virginia-D), which removes funding for horse slaughter plant inspections from the USDA budget; the USDA is losing $9 million from its Food Safety and Inspection Service this year, and can ill afford to take on new inspections, according to Moran.

Without the USDA inspections, horse slaughter plants can not operate, regardless of if they're located in Missouri or Oklahoma. That's assuming Unified Equine actually builds either plant; so far, it's been a lot of promises on that end with no action.

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