“The Rockville facility is currently being renovated and reequipped in order to humanely process horses,” the release says.
Unified Equine will use standards “above and beyond” minimum government requirements, the company says. They include video surveillance and systems to ensure no stolen horse is mistakenly processed.
“We believe this is a win-win-win for both horses and people,” CEO Sue Wallis says in a release.
Earlier in June, the company told the News-Leader it had narrowed its search to a handful of sites in the western half of the state.
Unified Equine LLC previously proposed using a former manufacturing facility near Mountain Grove for its slaughter operation.
Community members strenuously objected to the plans in mid-March, and the company was forced to consider other options.
Sue Wallis, the company’s chief executive, said the community reaction was only one factor in Unified Equine’s decision to abandon the site.
The cost of converting the building, which was used to make gas pipelines, into a slaughter operation also proved to be too high.
“We had pretty much made the decision that was not the spot,” Wallis said.
Wallis said Unified Equine decided to look at western Missouri because of large horse populations nearby.
“If you draw a 400- to 500-mile circle around where you are, you will have encapsulated 30 percent of the horses in the U.S.,” Wallis previously told the News-Leader.
Last year, Congress cleared the way for horse slaughter plants to reopen by removing a 5-year-old ban on funding federal horse meat inspections. Plants that are not inspected by the USDA cannot ship meat across state lines, which had effectively prohibited the commercial slaughtering of horses in the United States.
Most of the meat from the Unified Equine plant would be sent overseas or to Mexico, Wallis said.
Some of the products might be sold in the United States to ethnic markets where the meat is still considered a delicacy, she said.