CHEYENNE — A Wyoming company is looking to build one of the nation's first horse slaughterhouses in the Riverton area within the next year, according to state Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, the company’s chief executive.
The move could make Wyoming a hotspot in a nationwide controversy over whether horses should be slaughtered for their meat.
Wallis said her company, Unified Equine, is looking to bring in local investors to help finance the plant, which she said could cost between $2 million and $6 million and would initially create about 50 jobs. The facility would process up to 200 horses a day for sale abroad and to ethnic markets within the U.S., she said.
Horse slaughter for human consumption had effectively been banned in the U.S. since 2006, as Congress had withheld money for U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors of horse meat. That funding was finally restored late last year.
Animal rights groups have long lobbied against horse slaughter, saying the animals are too intelligent to become food.
Supporters of horse slaughter respond that the practice is humane and provides an outlet for old and unwanted horses that would otherwise be starved or abandoned.
Unified Equine is already moving on controversial plans to build horse slaughter plants in Oklahoma and Missouri.
Work on the Riverton facility won’t start until those facilities are up and running, Wallis said.
Wallis said the Riverton plant would only purchase privately-owned horses, not wild horses caught on public land.