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      Sigourney company ready to start horse slaughter

      UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, a federal court issued a temporary restraining order to halt U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections of horse slaughter plants, which effectively prevents any such plant in the U.S. from opening.

      The restraining order is good for 30 days, at which time the court will decide whether or not to extend the order.

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------A southeast Iowa company is ready to begin slaughtering horses within days if a federal court in New Mexico rejects an effort to block the move. The Des Moines Register reports Responsible Transportation in Sigourney could start horse slaughtering as soon as Monday. Company president Keaton Walker says, "That is the hope." Congress lifted a ban on horse slaughter in 2011. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture opposes horse slaughter, it issued permits after being sued by Valley Meat Company of Roswell, New Mexico. A judge Friday is expected to rule on a requested injunction filed by slaughter opponents who say the USDA must conduct environmental reviews before issuing permits. Startup of the New Mexico plant could be delayed by an apparent arson fire that damaged its refrigeration system.