The below article is from the Spring/Summer 2003 ALDF update,
a newsletter for attorney members of the Animal Legal Defense Fund   127 Fourth Street, Petaluma, California 94952-3005  707-769-7771


Texas corporations Beltex and Dallas Crown are the last two known commercial horse slaughtering plants in the United States that slaughter horses for sale for human consumption.  They process approximately 50,000 horses a year for sale to foreign countries.  In September 2002, Beltex, Dallas Crown and Mexico meat processor Empacadora de Carnes de Fresnillo Corporation filed suit in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, seeking injunctive relief to prohibit their criminal prosecution under Texas Agriculture Code § 149.001 et seq. (Chapter 149), alleging the statute is preempted by federal law or has been repealed.  Defendants Tim Curry, District Attorney, Tarrant County, and Bill Conradt, District Attorney, Kaufman County, were prepared to prosecute plaintiffs pursuant to §§ 149.002 and 149.003, which provide in substance criminal offenses for the sale or transfer of horsemeat for human consumption.  Chapter 149 applies to all horsemeat sold for human consumption, regardless of the location of the ultimate consumer, and defendants assert “the statute is currently in force in Texas , has not been repealed, is not preempted, and has not been struck by the Courts.  It applies equally and without discrimination to intrastate commerce, to interstate commerce, and to international commerce.”  

On October 4, 2002 , plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction claiming irreparable injury and loss if they are prosecuted and convicted for violating Chapter 149.  Judge Terry Means, April 21, 2003 , granted plaintiffs’ motion as to defendant Curry and denied as to defendant Walton who had stated that his office had no present intention of prosecuting for alleged violations of Chapter 149.  The court found plaintiffs demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, believing that Chapter 149 is preempted by federal law and/or has been repealed and plaintiffs would “suffer irreparable harm if they are prosecuted, convicted, and put out of business based on a state statute that is preempted or has been repealed.”  Further, Judge Means determined the threatened injury to plaintiffs outweighed “any injury to defendant Curry” and the public interest would be better served by permitting plaintiffs to continue normal operations until a final decision is made on the status of Chapter 149.  

Tim Curry submitted an advisory regarding pending federal and state legislation relevant to the instant lawsuit.  On February 13, 2003 , H.R. 857 was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives.  If passed into law, “The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act” would prohibit: the slaughter of horses for human consumption; the sale, possession and trade of horseflesh for human consumption; and the sale, possession and trade of live horses for slaughter for human consumption.  On February 26, 2003   H.B. 1324 was filed in the Texas House of Representatives.  It amends, in relevant parts, §§ 149.002 and 149.003 by criminalizing the sale of transfer of horsemeat as food for human consumption in the United States .  (Empacadora de Carnes de Fresnillo, S.A. de C.V. v. Curry, PF 400.80)