Friday, December 13, 2013

Iowa packer throws in the towel

An Iowa beef packer is throwing in the towel and selling his business because of harassment by the Humane Society of United States.

The owner of Responsible Transportation, also doing business as Iowa Meat Co., says he simply can’t afford the legal battles the animal activists have been throwing at him.

The packing plant in Sigourney, Iowa, was doing further processing of turkey when Keaton Walker bought it with intentions of converting it into a horse slaughter plant.

He dropped that plan after heated opposition and lawsuits filed by the Humane Society of the United States.

Then he planned the 45,000-square-foot plant to use it to slaughter about 250 head of beef cattle per day.

Although the judge dismissed the original lawsuit, the Humane Society appealed, and pending the outcome of that appeal, the plant could not slaughter horses.

“The lawsuit just continued to financially drain us and has forced us to sell the plant,” said Walker.

“We’re looking for someone to jump in really quickly and take over the business. We want to get Sigourney an economic partner to scale the business, which we are unable to do right now,” he said.

There are two others who want to open horse-slaughter plants in the U.S., but they also face legal action that has their projects stalled.

That leaves two Canadian plants, one in Alberta, the other in Quebec, as the only ones in North America that slaughter horses. They export most of the meat to Europe and Japan.

Many horse owners, including Indian bands in New Mexico, are becoming desperate for a slaughter plant to open so they have a profitable way to cull their herds back to sustainable numbers.