Hormone-free Texas. Beef Ships Out

By Staff

Vol. 11, No. 4, 1989, p. 21

Twenty tons of hormone-free Texas beef left the Port of Houston in late July on their way to European customers. The shipment was the first U.S. beef allowed into Europe since the federal government and the European Economic Community reached an impasse over the issue of artificial growth hormones in cattle, resulting in an embargo of U.S. beef on January 1. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower rounded up Texas ranchers who raise cattle without hormones and worked out the "Texas Plan" for reopening the U.S.-European beef trade.

Hightower called the recent shipment the start of a "modern day cattle" drive that can bring extra money to enterprising ranchers, and create jobs for both agricultural workers and members of longshoremen's unions. While most of the U.S. trade community protested that the hormones were necessary for profitable operations, Hightower and some Texas ranchers set about to prove them wrong. "From the outset, we felt that more was at stake than steak, and a whole lot more was at stake than growth hormones," he said.