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      NMED recommends denying permit to horse slaughter plant

      SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A hearing officer is recommending that the New Mexico Environment Department deny a wastewater permit for a Roswell company that wants to slaughter horses.

      The hearing officer cited what he called the company's record "willful disregard" of the state's environmental laws in making the recommendation.

      Valley Meat Co. is a former cattle slaughterhouse that has been fighting for two years to convert its operations to horses. The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007.

      It's efforts have sparked an emotional national debate over whether horses are pets or livestock, and has sparked lawsuits by national animal protection groups and the state attorney general.

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