By Edvard Pettersson
Commercial horse slaughter operations scheduled to start Wednesday at a New Mexico plant were blocked by a judge until a Friday hearing on whether a longer halt is merited.
The court order stops Valley Meat in Roswell from beginning operations as planned, state Attorney General Gary King said Tuesday in a statement. King opposes commercial horse slaughter, saying the animals aren't raised for U.S. human consumption and are given drugs banned for use in food animals.
The attorney general sued Dec. 19 in state court after a federal appeals court refused to halt commercial horse slaughtering. Opponents are trying to overturn a lower-court decision saying that the U.S. Agriculture Department correctly allowed food-safety inspectors at plants without environmental review. The appeals court denied a stay pending the appeal.
Congress from 2006 to 2011 halted funding for horse slaughter plant inspections, which are required to sell the meat. The prohibition on funding for inspections wasn't extended for 2012 and 2013, allowing the practice to resume legally.
Blair Dunn, a lawyer for Valley Meat, didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the temporary restraining order.