Warm reception for western MO horse meat plant

Rockville, Mo. - Less than two hundred people live in Rockville, Mo. It is just a stone's throw south of Kansas City and for decades almost half of the town has worked at a local beef processing plant.

It was big business for the convenience store across the street.

"On their breaks, they came over to get pops or drinks," said Alice, who has worked at the store off and on for years. "We talk, we laugh...its like a big family."

When the plant closed last year, it took a big chunk of business from the store and dozens of jobs with it.

"There are some that haven't even found a job yet that worked over there for several years," Alice said. "So it has been devastating."

Then came news this week the plant could open again but it wouldn't be processing beef. Unified Equine Missouri, based out of Wyoming, wants to use the former beef processing plant to process horse meat.

At first, they planned to build a plant in Mountain Grove, Mo., near Springfield - but that met loud opposition.

"It cost the taxpayers tons of money and we get nothing back except our environment destroyed," said Mountain Grove attorney Cynthia McPherson. She led the opposition of the plant.

The company who wants to open this meat processing plant says Rockville is now their top choice - not because they were run out of town by protestors in other locations - but because this was already a meat processing plant. All the parts are in place, and they say it is simply the cheapest option.

While horse meat doesn't sound appetizing to most in the United States, the CEO who wants to open this plant insists there is a viable international market.

"The rest of the world really considers horse meat just another ordinary food source," said Susan Wallis.

But if you're looking for protestors in Rockville, you'll be hard pressed to find one.

"I say how do you get your beef or pork? There's no difference, I'm sorry," said Alice.

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