Thursday's Internet Edition, 4:26 PM, April 3, 2003.
Brown defends bill
A bill sponsored by State Rep. Betty Brown that would clarify state law about processing and shipping horse meat for human consumption overseas drew criticism in Austin and Kaufman last week.
An advertisement placed in The Kaufman Herald March 27 urged voters to contact Brown (R-Terrell) and ask her to withdraw House Bill 1324.
After hearing testimony from supporters and opponents, the House’s Agriculture Committee moved the bill on by a 4-1 vote. HB 1324 awaits scheduling for a floor vote.
Brown’s bill, which she sponsored by request of Dr. Steve Hicks, a veterinarian in Bradford, would clarify a vintage state law. The change, said Brown, would add “in the United States” to the text of the law that forbids the sale of horsemeat for human consumption.
Dallas Crown Packing Inc. is located in Kaufman and is one of two horsemeat packing companies the U.S. The other is located in Fort Worth.
Contention on the issue arises around Dallas Crown’s packaging and selling horsemeat to European countries for consumption. Brown said her bill would do little except clarify the state statute.
“‘In the United States’ is all it adds,” Brown said of her legislation.
Brown said much of the opposition to the bill is tied to problems in the industry prior to 1997 legislation.
“That’s when more regulation was required,” she said Monday. “The information we’ve been given is that these problems have been addressed.”
She also cited support for the legislation from the Veterinarian Medical Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Painthorse Association, Thoroughbred Association, Texas Farm Bureau among others.
Criticism has come from animal rights groups as well as horse owners.
“They would like all these horses to find good homes,” said Brown. “But I believe it’s more humane to have this available to people.”
Brown said she “applauds the efforts of the horse rescue operations, but Texas has a horse population of 1 million so there are different avenues needed” to dispose of the animals.
In August, the Texas attorney general issued an opinion that said preparing and processing horsemeat for human consumption was illegal.
Last Tuesday, the committee heard testimony on the bill. Supporters and opponents spoke, including Mary Nash of Kaufman.
Supporters of Brown’s bill say many of the horses being brought to Dallas Crown are old and infirmed. Nash disagreed with the claims and told the committee her family’s 40-acre farm is adjacent to the Dallas Crown plant.
“I’ve seen horses arrive in cattle haulers on their way to slaughter,” Nash told the committee. “I’ve seen the horses being unloaded, and I’ve seen the horses milling around in their holding pens.
“I’ve been around horses all my life. My horse died last year at age 32. I know what an old horse looks like.
“These horses don’t look old, they don’t look sick, and they don’t look lame.”
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