An industrial site near Mountain Grove, Mo., could be the location of the first horse processing plant established in the U.S. since federal funding for USDA horsemeat inspections was reinstated.
Prior to 2005, USDA personnel carried out horsemeat food safety inspections at horse processing plants in the U.S. In 2006 Congress voted to strip the USDA of funding for horsemeat inspections. USDA inspection at horse processing plants became possible again in November when Congress passed H.R. 2112, a budget appropriations bill that did not contain language specifically forbidding the agency from using federal dollars to fund horse processing plant inspections.
On Feb. 24 the Wyoming-based Unified Equine LLC announced it was conducting a study to determine the feasibility of locating a horse processing plant in an industrial park near Mountain Grove. According to a fact sheet provided by United Equine principal Wyoming State Rep. Sue Wallis, the proposed plant operating as Unified Meats LLC would be a state-of-the-art facility primarily focused on processing horsemeat, but capable of also processing beef and bison. Resulting products would be sold in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
The statement said that when fully operational, the plant would be a complete kill and fabrication facility able to process up to 200 animals per day during a single shift, with a daily output of 400 animals on a two-shift basis. The plant would initially hire 50 local workers, provide training, and offer competitive wage and benefit packages.
When plant development might begin is contingent upon the study's results, Wallis said.
"This (feasibility phase) will probably take a couple of months, and will determine whether our business model is a good fit for this community and for this proposed site, and vice versa," Wallis said.
No one from the Mountain Grove Chamber of Commerce was available for comment on the proposed plant location.
Equine advocate Jerry Finch does not believe the plant will be established no matter what the feasibility study reveals.
"While (Sue Wallis) proudly represents a very small district in Wyoming, she has no concept of a business model that would represent a profitable venture for investors, nor is she capable of responding to the onslaught of protest and legal obstacles which would arise upon any sign of progress beyond her 'feasibility study,' " Finch said.
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