The Washington Post
Copyright 2003, The Washington Post Co. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 4, 2003

A Section

A national briefing of people, issues and events around the country

Texas Horse Slaughterhouses
Seek to Continue Equine Dining

One of the great Western love stories stars the cowboy and his horse,
but in Texas it's a romance with a twist.

For years the nation's only two horse slaughterhouses have done a
booming business in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, shipping the meat
overseas where it's consumed as steak in France and sashimi in Japan.
The Belgian-owned plants plied their trade unmolested until animal
rights advocates unearthed a long-forgotten 1949 Texas law banning the
slaughter of horses for human consumption.

Fearing the state would try to close them down, the slaughterhouses
filed suit in federal court in Fort Worth last year to ensure their
continued operations. They argued that federal law, which permits the
sale of U.S.-made horse meat for overseas consumption, supersedes Texas
law. Then the Texas state legislature got into the act.

Some lawmakers called the business inhumane; others argued that the
slaughterhouses provide a service for horse owners who need to give up
their old or rebellious steeds.

"If the French want to eat horse meat, let the French eat horse meat,"
state Rep. Toby Goodman, a Republican, told the Fort Worth
Star-Telegram. "Let them raise horses and slaughter them."

Nonetheless, last week the Texas House approved a bill to allow the sale

of Texas-made horsemeat abroad. The bill, which passed 83 to 53, now
goes to the state Senate.

"It's not something we like to think about," state Rep. Betty Brown
said of killing horses for food. She is a Republican who sponsored the
bill. "It's just one avenue that needs to be left open."

-- Lee Hockstader and Karin Brulliard