A New Mexico plant may be only a few weeks away from becoming the first meat plant to slaughter horses in six years.

Blair Dunn, attorney for Valley Meat Co. told Bloomberg the plant may be open and operational in three weeks. Valley Meat is one of five plants submitting applications for federal meat inspection services under the “equine” option.

Slaughter ended in 2007 when Congress ended funding for government inspections. Efforts are underway to bring back a ban on horse slaughter for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses elsewhere for slaughter.

Bloomberg reports the U.S. slaughtered 94,037 horses in 2005 in the final full year before the ban.

Food Safety News says horse slaughter operations cannot take place until after a Conditional Grant of Inspection is issued and a worksheet is completed “before or during” a walk-through. Valley Meat filed for federal meat inspection services on Dec. 13, 2011.

The New Mexico plant located just outside Roswell could employ up to 100 and process meat from as many as 100 horses for export.

Read more about the horse slaughter debate.