The New Mexico House rejected a bill on Feb. 4 that would have authorized the state Department of Agriculture to study the feasibility of a slaughter facility to process horsemeat 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 USDA inspection of slaughter houses. 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 United States. Federal legislation banning horse slaughter has failed to pass Congress. No new slaughterhouses have opened in the United States 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 out of the country for slaughter.

Opponents of Bandy’s bill countered that a better feasibility study would look at all options for resolving the unwanted horse problem, inclu