The New Mexico House Feb. 4 rejected a bill that would have authorized the state Department of Agriculture to study the feasibility of a slaughter facility to process horse meat for human consumption.
The measure, HJM 16, introduced by Rep. Paul C. Bandy (R-Aztec), received 36 "no" votes, with 28 members voting "yes."
Late last week, the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee approved and sent on to the Appropriations and Finance Committee Bandy's accompanying bill that would allocate $20,000 to New Mexico State University to undertake the feasibility study.
Horse slaughter in the United States for human consumption, primarily in Europe and Asia, effectively stopped in 2006 after federal funding ended for United States Department of Agriculture inspection of slaughterhouses.
In late 2011, President Obama signed into law a broader bill that reverses the ban on the funding, leading to the possibility that horse slaughter would resume in the U.S. Federal legislation actually banning the process of horse slaughter has failed to pass Congress. There have been no new slaughterhouses open in the U.S. since funding for inspections was resumed.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, during the debate of more than an hour prior to the vote, Bandy contended humane slaughterhouses are a better alternative to allowing horses to die of starvation in a field or be shipped for slaughter to New Mexico.
Opponents of Bandy's bill countered that a better feasibility study would look at all options for resolving the unwanted horse problem, including funding horse rescue shelters or euthanasia and disposal, according to the newspaper's website.
According to the USDA, 767 horses were shipped across New Mexico's border to Mexico in January for slaughter. (This story previously included the New Mexican's report of 9,000 horses shipped from New Mexico to Mexico in January, most of them for slaughter).