The plant — based in Roswell, N.M., and owned by Valley Meat Company — would be the first horse slaughter plant approved since 2007, reports The New York Times.
The owners of the plant sued the USDA last fall because of the lack of inspectors for horse slaughtering. Horse meat cannot be sold for human consumption without the onsite approval of an inspector from the USDA.
A spokesman for the USDA says that several companies have requested the re-establishment of inspections. However, he also pointed out that the administration is asking Congress to re-enact a ban on the production of horse meat for human consumption. The last such ban lapsed in 2011 and has not been brought back to the floor.
The request by Valley Meat comes at a time of heightened awareness of horse meat among consumers. There have been several incidents in Europe where horse meat has been found in packages labeled “beef” or “pork.”