A federal judge in Albuquerque is expected to decide Friday whether companies in New Mexico and Iowa can begin slaughtering horses next week. The Humane Society of the United States and others are requesting a restraining order to block Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa, from opening their slaughterhouses as planned on Monday.
The groups sued the Department of Agriculture in June after it issued permits to the companies, which would be the first to legally slaughter horses in the country since Congress effectively banned the practice in 2006.
Meat from the slaughterhouses would be exported for human consumption and for use as zoo and other animal food.
The move has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes about what is the most humane way to deal with the country's horse overpopulation.