A New Mexico rancher has applied to open up a horse slaughterhouse, attempting to be the first business in the U.S. to kill horses for human consumption since 2007.
The USDA lifted the ban on horse slaughter last November. NPR reports that now Rick De Los Santos, rancher and owner of Valley Meat Co. wants to take advantage of the new rules.
The horse meat he would provide would be exported to Mexico, where eating such meat is commonplace. It has long been taboo in the U.S.
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Horse slaughter faces a similar stigma today, even though USDA-regulated facilities might be an improvement over conditions in some of the foreign slaughterhouses to which many American horses are sent now. Opponents say horses are intelligent, beloved companion animals and that slaughtering them for food is inhumane. Groups like PETA acknowledge the suffering of horses slaughtered abroad, but they say the answer is to stop sending horses away to be killed — not to start killing them here.
For his part, De Los Santos stays out of the ethical and moral debate.
"I'm going to try to do what I need to make a living, and that's not against the law," he told the Albuquerque Journal.