Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:58 PM CDT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Federal officials have granted a southeastern New Mexico company's request to open a horse slaughterhouse, adding Friday that they plan to grant similar permits to operations in Iowa and Missouri.

With the action, Valley Meat Co. of Roswell 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.

The company has been fighting for approval from the Department of Agriculture for more than a year with a request that ignited an emotional debate over whether horses are livestock or domestic companions.


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