Four years after the last horse slaughterhouse in the country closed, President Barack Obama paved the way for new plants to pop up.
Last month, Obama signed an agriculture spending bill that included a provision to pay for federal inspections of horse slaughterhouses, reports the Casper Star-Tribune. Congress defunded the inspections in 2006 -- a decision that virtually outlawed the slaughterhouses since they can't operate without inspections.
Already, at least two groups in Wyoming have expressed interest in opening the kill mills to produce meat -- most of which will be exported since Americans aren't too keen on horse meat. And a pro-slaughter group called United Horsemen told the Christian Science Monitor that meat processors are now considering opening facilities in at least a half-dozen other states, including Georgia, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Montana and possibly Idaho.
Proponents of the new policy say that processing horse meat for human consumption is a good way to mitigate the species' overpopulation and hope wild horses, which are protected, will eventually be able to be killed for consumption as well. Opponents, however, worry about contaminated meat since not all horses are bred for consumption and some may get fed the wrong diets or be treated with medicine.
Although the federal ban on inspections has been lifted, horse slaughterhouses are still illegal in Illinois and California, according to abc News.