Slaughter: Change to Texas Senate Bill would Steer Around Ban

A change quietly tucked into a state Senate bill approved this week seeks to sidestep a 58-year-old Texas law preventing the slaughter of horses for consumption of their meat.

Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, inserted an amendment into a bill on the duties and regulations of the Texas Animal Health Commission. It said animals tested by the commission would be exempt from the part of the state agriculture code banning the sale of horse meat for human consumption.

Hegar contends allowing horse meat processing in Texas can keep animals from enduring a harsher fate of being abused, neglected or shipped to Mexico.

"We're really just kind of turning our back on the problem by saying, 'Well, if they're not processed here nothing happens to them anymore,' and that's not the case," he said Friday.

The Senate approved the bill in Austin on Wednesday, and it was sent to the House's agriculture and livestock committee. House members passed a similar bill in the House, but it does not include provisions on horse slaughter.

"That debate will continue throughout the session. We've got several weeks left," Hegar said. "We'll be able to have that discussion and probably still have it again probably next session and through the interim. Who knows when we'll have final conclusion on this issue."

Efforts to continue horse slaughter the United States suffered recent losses in the federal courts and in Congress.

Earlier this year, a federal appeals court effectively shut down two Texas plants that slaughtered horses and exported the meat overseas--Dallas Crown Inc. in Kaufman and Beltex Corp. in Fort Worth. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned a lower court ruling that said a 1949 Texas law banning horse slaughter for the sale of meat for food was invalid.

A third plant run by Cavel International Inc. in DeKalb, Ill., is not affected by the ruling. The three facilities are foreign-owned.

The Texas Animal Health Commission tests thousands of horses for diseases each year. But most of those tested were not headed to the state's slaughter houses.

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The Associated Press

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