The slaughter of horses for human consumption could legally resume in the United States as early as this week following a decision by a New Mexico judge who dismissed a push by animal rights groups to stop the practice.

U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo in New Mexico threw out a lawsuit Friday by The Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups that alleged the Department of Agriculture failed to conduct environmental studies when it issued permits to Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., and an Iowa company to slaughter horses for human consumption.

It was a last-ditch effort that failed for animal rights groups. Instead, the court’s ruling ends – for now at least – a two-year battle by Valley Meat to open its slaughterhouse.