SANTA FE, N.M. - The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is honoring former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson for his efforts to help prevent horse slaughter in the U.S. Keith Dane, HSUS vice president for equine protection, said the organization recently named Richardson its "2013 Humane Horseman of the Year."
Richardson's high-profile involvement is helpful, Dane said, as Valley Meat Company continues to try to open a horse slaughterhouse near Roswell.
"It helps to draw attention to the plight of horses that are meeting this end, and certainly helps in our fight to keep horse-slaughter plants in the United States closed," Dane said.
Richardson and Robert Redford started the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife, which is focused on protecting horses, Dane explained. They also joined the Humane Society's lawsuit last year to stop Valley Meat from opening a horse slaughterhouse, he added. That lawsuit was not successful.
Even if Valley Meat opens a slaughterhouse, it is unlikely that Congress would fund the USDA inspections required for the facility to operate, Dane warned. If that happens, Dane said Valley Meat could legally kill horses, but would be unable to process and sell the meat. He noted that broad public and political opposition to horse slaughter reaches all the way to the White House.
"President Obama, in his budget for 2014, actually asked that that defunding language be included in the agriculture spending bill," Dane said.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also has expressed opposition to domestic horse slaughter, Dane added. Valley Meat hopes to kill horses and sell the meat as a food source in other countries.
Richardson also served as Energy Secretary and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration. Audifile.