Posted at: 04/23/2013 8:22 PM
Updated at: 04/24/2013 11:23 AM
By: Amber LaVail, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The proposed slaughterhouse near Roswell may have passed a federal inspection Tuesday.
USDA inspectors were at Valley Meats in Chaves County, walking through the plant.
"We have known all along that eventually they would have to come out, they had until April 29th to come out," said plant owner Rick De Los Santos.
"As of today we are officially the first horse slaughter plant in the country,” said De Los Santos.
But the USDA says Tuesday's visit was only a site visit - the first step in a long process.
KOB Eyewitness News 4 looked at the inside of the proposed slaughter facility, at the pens where the horses would be kept, and at the equipment that could be used to process them.
First we saw the slaughter floor, then two processing rooms where meat would be packaged, processed, and shipped off to other countries, as well as a cooling room where meat would hang to cool for twenty-four hours.
Sarah De Los Santos says horse slaughter must be done.
"To be told of another way of just keeping the horses, and letting them starve, and transporting them thirty hours, that doesn't even make sense to us," she said.
She says people can’t afford to feed their horses, and transporting the horses out of the country is inhumane.
"We didn't just wake up one day and say we want to kill horses," said Rick De Los Santos.
The De Los Santos are now waiting to hear back from USDA officials.
"It was something that we looked at hard and believe it was the right thing to do, for today,” said Rick De Los Santos.
There are still more steps in the process before the plant can start operating.
And even if it passes all inspections, it could face other challenges.
President Obama’s budget next year specifically includes language to stop the plant from opening.