A meat plant in Sigourney, Iowa, has become the second operation to receive a U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) permit to begin processing horses for human consumption. Just days earlier, Valley Meats Co. LLC, in Roswell, N.M., was granted a similar horse processing permit.
 
Horse processing has not taken place in the United States since 2007, when a combination of court rulings and legislation shuttered the last two domestic equine processing plants operating in Illinois and Texas. USDA/FSIS personnel carried out inspections at horse processing plants until the U.S. Congress voted to strip the USDA of funds to pay personnel conducting federal inspections at those plants. Since then horses have been transported to Mexico and Canada for processing.
 
USDA funding bills contained amendments denying funds to conduct horse processing plant inspections until November 2011, when Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed an appropriations bill that did not contain language specifically forbidding the agency from using federal dollars to fund horse slaughter plant inspections.
 
Last month, Valley Meats Co. LLC became the first plant to receive an FSIS permit to allow the placement of USDA personnel to inspect horsemeat for human consumption. On July 2 the USDA released a statement saying a second horse processing permit had been awarded to Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa, for equine slaughter.
 
"Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, FSIS must issue a grant of inspection once an establishment has satisfied all federal requirements as this plant has done," the USDA statement said. "FSIS anticipates one additional application for equine inspection could meet the mandated requirements in the coming days."
 
That third horse processing