Reps. urge USDA to reopen Hanford slaughterhouse

Rep. Devin Nunes and other GOP reps in the Valley are calling on the USDA to reopen a Hanford slaughterhouse.Rep. Devin Nunes and other GOP reps in the Valley are calling on the USDA to reopen a Hanford slaughterhouse.Central Valley House Republicans have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging the agency to re-open a Hanford meat processing plant at the center of an animal-abuse controversy.

 

Reps. Devin Nunes of Tulare, Jeff Denham of Atwater and Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield sent the Aug. 23 letter to Tom Vilsack, USDA secretary, regarding Central Valley Meat Co., which was closed Monday after the USDA received video reportedly documenting abuse of cows at the facility.

The videos went public yesterday, prompting McDonald's, In-N-Out Burger, the USDA and Costco Wholesale Corp. to suspend beef purchases from Central Valley Meat Co., according to news reports.

The USDA said it has seen nothing in the video that would prove meat from sick cows made it into the food supply.

"This investigation can and should continue, but does not necessitate a prolonged and economically disastrous full stoppage of operations," read the letter. "Furthermore, your agency should more aggressively clarify the fact that our food supply is not — and never was — in jeopardy as a result of this alleged violation."

The letter also states that hundreds of employees have been out of work due to the closure, and the price of beef in the region has also fell, "resulting in further economic hardship for farmers."

The Congressmen also state that the USDA had full-time inspectors at the plant, but had no record of non-compliance.

"In the strongest possible terms we urge you ... to intervene against the onslaught of attacks that are occurring at the behest of radical groups," said the letter.

Animal welfare group Compassion Over Killing released the video, reportedly shot by an undercover investigator.