Slaughtering horses for meat, though not illegal, has been effectively outlawed since 2006 when Congress banned funding for the inspections needed to approve any slaughterhouse.
That ban was lifted in a recent spending bill, which means now that inspections can resume, so can the slaughtering of horses for meat.
It did not, however, allocate any new money to pay for horse meat inspections, which opponents claim could cost taxpayers $3 million to $5 million a year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to find the money in its existing budget, which is expected to see more cuts this year as Congress and the White House aim to trim federal spending.
The USDA issued a statement Tuesday saying there are no slaughterhouses in the U.S. that butcher horses for human consumption now, but if one were to open, it would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed.
Most of the meat slaughtered in the U.S. would be shipped overseas.
There will be no slaughterhouses in California, because the state has banned the practice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.