A judge has granted a preliminary injunction preventing Valley Meat Company in New Mexico from opening its horse slaughter plant.
The decision caps a troubling week for the firm in which Congress passed an omnibus spending bill which stopped the US Department of Agriculture from carrying out the mandatory plant inspections required for such plants to operate.
State District Court Judge Matthew Wilson released his reserved decision on Friday, following a hearing of evidence and arguments in the bid for the injunction brought by state Attorney General Gary King.
King welcomed the judge’s ruling.
“The judge’s decision allows our lawsuit to continue while preventing the immediate killing of horses for human consumption,” he said.
“I still strongly believe that Valley Meat’s proposal for commercial horse slaughter posed a serious danger to consumers and to our environment.”
King noted that Congress had approved, and the president has signed, an appropriations bill that restored the long-standing prohibition on funding for federal inspection of horse slaughterhouses, effectively banning commercial horse slaughter nationwide.
King said he was especially grateful to US Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, for their supportive efforts to defund the federal inspections.
He said numerous other individuals and groups had helped accomplish the result, particularly Front Range Equine Rescue.
The Roswell-based plant was among several close to opening in the US.
In his ruling, the judge agreed with King’s argument that the operation had the potential to damage the environment.
Wilson said although granting the injunction may have a negative impact on the local economy in Chaves County, granting the state’s motion for an injunction was not adverse to the public’s interest and, to the contrary, enforcing and requiring compliance with food and environmental laws, as well as preventing any potential nuisance, were in the public’s interest.
“There is a substantial likelihood that the state will prevail on the merits of their complaint,” the judge said.
He said no bond was necessary.
“It is evident that in the event damages are due as a result of the injunction, the state has the financial resources to pay any such damages, and therefore the usual purpose of requiring a bond is absent here.