Federal Court of Appeals Affirms Horse Slaughter Illegal in Texas

The entire 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed March 5 an earlier panel decision upholding a Texas state law that bans the sale of horsemeat for human consumption.
The full court, which consists of 19 judges, rejected without comment or dissent a petition by the owners of the Beltex plant in Fort Worth and Dallas Crown plant in Kaufman. The plants were seeking full court review of a three-judge panel’s Jan. 19 decision upholding a 1949 Texas law that banned the sale of horsemeat for human consumption. 

The slaughter plants said the law was unconstitutional, but the original panel found the law stood on its own merits and was still enforceable.

"The lone cowboy riding his horse on a Texas trail is a cinematic icon," wrote Judge Fortunato Benavides in the Jan. 19 ruling. "Not once in memory did the cowboy eat his horse."

However, Texas Rep. Sid Miller, a Quarter Horse breeder and the chairman of the Agriculture and Livestock committee, filed a bill March 5 that would allow the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the state.

"The main purpose of the bill would be to go back and strike that from Texas law so we could keep our processing plants open," Miller said. "The bill is just what we call a place holder. I had to file something before the deadline, which is (March 9). I will probably have a committee substitute but I do not have one yet."

The bill would also require a posted sign at livestock markets informing people that an equine animal sold at the market may be bought for slaughter.

"We certainly want to make everyone aware of what they are doing when they are taking a horse to a livestock auction," Miller said. "That is why the posting notice would be there."