The Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals categorically denied July 12, a petition for rulemaking from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and several other animal rights groups, seeking to block the opening of a horse processing plant in Sigourney, Iowa.

The state’s denial, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) ruling against a related HSUS action announced by USDA July 3, cited state and federal regulation as protecting animals and consumers and new rules are not needed. The HSUS petition sought unreasonable regulation of the new Iowa horse processing facility.

“This brings us one step closer to restoring an industry where every horse has intrinsic value, incentivizing their best care,” said Sue Wallis, Wyoming State Representative and U.S. chairman of the International Equine Business Association (IEBA). “Three companies – in Iowa, Missouri and New Mexico – are targeted by HSUS, but are poised to provide a humane option for unwanted horse disposal. Several other firms are seeking USDA inspection, providing a humane end for horses at high risk of abandonment, starvation and abuse.” She said horse processing investment provides jobs and opportunity in hard hit rural and tribal communities.

Wallis stressed these companies use experienced and highly trained staff, under rigorous oversight by FSIS inspectors, to ensure food safety and humane handling. She also said these plants meet or exceed federal and state environmental requirements imposed on every meat processing plant in the country regardless of species. These small businesses also provide hope for devastated tribal lands impacted by roaming herds of excess feral horses. The number of feral horses has increased by 20% a year since the tribes lost the option of selling horses to processing plants legally operating prior to 2007, the last year horse processing was an option.

As noted in an opinion piece by Jason Smith, president, National Tribal Horse Coalition, Warm Springs, Oregon, citing his letter to Congress: “If you are really concerned about the welfare of horses, and have seen the devastation the overpopulation of horses has had on tribal land, and are respectful of the tribal perspective, please reevaluate your position on this matter. If you do, you can prevent the ‘unintended consequences’ of this failed policy resulting in widespread starvation, neglect, abandonment, and unnecessary suffering of horses and the devastating environmental damage this policy has had on tribal land by continued funding of USDA inspectors for horse meat.”

Source: International Equine Business Association