On the House floor last week Bandy contended humane slaughterhouses are a better alternative to allowing horses to die of starvation in a field or be shipped for slaughter to Mexico. Nearly 800 horses were shipped across New Mexico's border to Mexico in January for slaughter according to the USDA Web site, but a report in the Santa Fe New Mexican last week claimed a USDA report out of Las Cruces indicated more than 9,000 horses have been shipped across New Mexico’s border to Mexico in January, “most of them for slaughter.”

In December, Sandy Grambort at the Humane Society of North Texas in Fort Worth agreed that something needed to be done about the horse situation because the two year drought has put the humane treatment of horses at risk. She says a shortage of forage and even water has caused horse owners to struggle and in many cases forced them to sell their horses at auction for very low rates or even abandon them.

She says the Humane Society has been receiving many horses and mules from owners over the last year who “simply can’t feed them any longer,” and that has caused many horses to be sold to buyers who transport them to slaughterhouses in Mexico.

While horse meat is a major staple in eight countries, China, Mexico and Kazakhstan are at the top of the list of importers. Worldwide, the horse meat industry provides about 4.7 million horses a year for human consumption.

Opponents warn that horse meat processing in the U.S. could lead to similar problems to those being experienced in Europe where the horse meat scandal continues to spread across the continent. European Union officials have scheduled a special meeting this week to discuss the issue.

Officials with the EU say the food supplier at the center of the uproar is French-based Comigel, and consumers “are outraged over beef and other animal meat products being mixed with horse meat” without labeling. Horse meat has been discovered in products that are supposed to be 100 percent beef sold in Sweden, the United Kingdom and France so far, but as many as 16 European nations may be involved in the supply chain.

French officials say they are trying to determine if fraud or negligence is at the core of the scandal.

Across the United States, only Texas and Illinois have outlawed horse meat processing.