SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- Every day, millions of chickens, hogs and cattle are butchered to satisfy the American appetite for meat. But we draw the line with horses. Now the controversy of a Missouri-based horse processing plant is quickly moving toward the Kansas City area where the welcome mat is out.
Unified Equine decided against putting the horse processing plant in Mountain Grove because of public opposition and the cost of renovating a building there. It also ruled out building from the ground up, and is focused on making Rockville home.
"This is my dad's old building right there," says Sherlene Mott, referring to a sign from her father's meat processing business.
Mott's family has been butchering livestock since the 40s. "In the late 70s, my dad was approached by the Hormel Meat Company, and they build the slaughter plant right north of town," says Mott.
The family sold its beef processing plant a few years ago when Sherlene's brother was dying of cancer. But then the new owner shut down last year. About 60 people lost their jobs. "Rockville- it hurt the community here. It's hurt the economy here," says Mott.
The only processing in the Rockville area now is Sherlene's catering and meat processing, small in comparison. News that the plant may reopen is now the talk of the town, and they're excited. "Rockville wants it. Rockville's all for it," says Mott. Several other residents in the small town agreed.
"We are excited to be in the community. We think it's a good fit, and we're pleased to be able to offer not only these good jobs, but a humane, viable option for the horse industry," says Sue Wallis, CEO of Unified Equine.
Though she hope the plant does reopen as a horse processing plant, Mott says federal inspectors made life in the meat processing business in Rockville difficult. She thinks it could be the same for Unified Equine. "They will tell you at Lawrence, at the district office that this plant, it has too many issues, and we want to keep it closed down. That will probably be... it's going to be a struggle," says Mott.
While working carefully to meet inspection requirements, Wallis admits her plans are at the mercy of the government. "While we hope and pray that that will go smoothly, it is in some part out of our hands," Wallis says.
So far, folks in Rockville are welcoming the idea with open arms. "What's the difference? Cows, horses, rabbits, butcher something; we don't care," says Mott.