A Roswell, NM, meat company has filed suit against USDA over a lack of action on a request for inspections that would clear the way for the company to resume domestic horse slaughterhouse operations in an effort to revitalize horse meat food services to foreign buyers.

Company owner Rick de los Santos says the company is still waiting for federal action though the lawsuit was filed last October. Federal court officials say USDA has until January to respond to the request but confirm they will continue to process the lawsuit in the interim.

Valley Meat Company is suing the federal government, alleging USDA inaction on its application has cost the company “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in recent months. The company has also filed suit against advocates for the humane treatment of animals, who de los Santos claims defamed his business during what he termed “an expensive, yearlong fight” over his proposal. That suit names the Humane Society of the U.S., Front Range Equine Rescue, and Animal Protection of New Mexico as plaintiffs.

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