Valley Meat Co., got a coveted OK today: The USDA approved the New Mexico-based company's application to morph a cattle plant into a horse slaughterhouse; it would be the first such processing facility permitted to operate in the US since the practice was effectively banned by Congress seven years ago, reports the AP. And it may not stand alone for long: The Wall Street Journal reports that would-be plants in Missouri and Iowa could get the OK as soon as Monday. But the approval isn't exactly a green light.
A lawyer for Valley Meat expressed plenty of skepticism: The USDA must send an inspector to oversee operations, and attorney Blair Dunn says the USDA has "been dragging their feet for a year—so to now believe they are going to start supplying inspectors, we're not going to hold our breath." USDA officials have called on Congress to reinstate the former ban on horse slaughter; six months ago Valley Meat sued the USDA, accusing it of intentionally delaying the process because the Obama administration opposes horse slaughter. The USDA determined that unless Congress "acts," it is forced to OK such requests. Click for more. (Read more slaughterhouse stories.)