*This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.*
A flurry of activity occurred last Friday with regard to the horse slaughter debate both in a Santa Fe, New Mexico courthouse and in Washington, DC.
First, in Washington, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill that provided no funding for USDA inspectors to inspect plants that would slaughter horses. President Obama signed the bill into law on Friday evening. Without these required inspections, plants are unable to commence slaughter operations. [Read article here.]
This was the same approach taken from 2006-2011 to prevent horse domestic horse slaughter. When the provision expired in 2011, several packing plants modified their equipment looking to slaughter horses, but were unable to do so due to several legal hurdles, including litigation in federal and state courts.
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe and Representative Markwayne Mullin have announced plans to introduce legislation that would provide federal funding for horse slaughter inspections. [Read article here.]
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, a district court judge in Santa Fe issued a preliminary injunction on Friday against Valley Meat Company and in favor of the Attorney General, preventing the plant from commencing horse slaughter activities. Judge Wilson found that the injunction was necessary to prevent “irreparable injury as a result of Valley Meat’s imminent, self-declared violations” of water quality and food acts.
Prior to the ruling, counsel for Valley Meats filed an emergency motion requesting that Judge Matthew Wilson recuse himself from the case due to an undisclosed conflict of interest. Specifically, defense counsel pointed to the fact that Judge Wilson worked as an Assistant Attorney General in the Human Services Department and to posts on his Facebook page denouncing horse slaughter. Judge Wilson did not decide the motion, instead allowing the Attorney General 15 days to respond and Valley Meat 15 days after that to file its reply. [Read article here.]