Federal officials have granting a southeastern New Mexico company's application for a horse slaughterhouse.
In approving Valley Meat Co.'s plans to produce horse meat, USDA officials also indicated they would grant similar permits to companies in Iowa and Missouri as early as next week.
With the action, the Roswell, N.M., company is set to become the first operation in the nation licensed to process horses into meat since Congress effectively banned the practice seven years ago.
Valley Meat Co. wants to ship horse meat to countries where people cook with it or feed it to animals. The company says it is planning to hire 40 to 100 employees.
Attorney Blair Dunn said the USDA has to send inspectors to the plant before it can begin operation.