A Project of Animal Place
September 14, 2001
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1. Agricultural Terrorism
2. Animal Disease Concerns
3. Japan Searches for Mad Cows
4. Former Pig Farm Manager Charged with Felony Cruelty
5. Thousands of Foals Slaughtered for Drug
6. $20 Million Judgement Against Egg Operation
7. Robotic Milking Being Tried in U.S.
8. BST Use Levels Off
1. AGRICULTURAL TERRORISM
An article in an "international security" publication discusses the
potential for agricultural terrorism. In explaining why it is far easier to
use biological pathogens as a weapon than create munitions designed to kill
people, it explains: "U.S. livestock has become progressively more disease
prone in recent years as a result of intensive antibiotic and steroid
programmes and husbandry changes designed to elevate the volume, quality
and quantity of meat production, as well as satisfy the specific
requirements of potential vendors. These biotechnic modifications, which
can include anything from branding and disinfectant sterilisation
treatments to dehorning, castration and hormone injections, have combined
to dramatically elevate the stress levels of exposed livestock. This has
lowered the natural tolerance of farm animals to diseases and increased the
volume of bacteria that would normally be shed in the event of
infection.......Problems of pathogenic dissemination have been largely
circumvented due to the intensive way in which US farm animals are
currently reared, bred and transported. Most US dairies can be expected to
contain at least 1,500 lactating cows at any one time; some of the largest
premises housing up to 10,000 animals. The outbreak of a contagious disease
at one of these facilities would be very difficult to control and could
necessitate the destruction of all the livestock, a formidable and
The USDA is stepping up foreign animal disease surveillance nationwide as a
result of the events of September 11th. Specific attention is to be
directed at farmed animal concentration points.
"The US agricultural sector: a new target for terrorism?"Jane's
Intelligence Review, Peter Chalk, February 9, 2001.
Foreign Animal Disease Surveillance to Increase," AgWeb News, September 12,
2. ANIMAL DISEASE CONCERNS
The annual report of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) notes: "there is a trend towards increased intensification and
commercialization of livestock production. The higher concentration of
animals often provides greater opportunity for animal diseases and other
infections to spread rapidly and cause economic losses."
The USDA will host a public hearing on the impact of animal diseases on
September 28th in Riverdale, MD. Interested parties can attend, or submit
written comment by October 9th to: http://comments.aphis.usda.gov. USDA's
Animal Plant Health Inspection Service will incorporate the comments into a
report as required by the Animal Disease Risk Assessment, Prevention and
Control Act of 2001.
"The State of Food and Agriculture 2001," Food and Agriculture Organization
Annual Report, FAO press release, September 11, 2001.
"USDA to host hearing on animal disease concern," DVM, Breaking News,
September 4, 2001.
3. JAPAN SEARCHES FOR MAD COWS
Nearly 6,000 Japanese health officials are searching 140,000 farms for
evidence of mad cow disease. The nationwide search was launched after a
5-year-old cow on a dairy farm tested positive for the disease. It is the
first case of the disease in Asia. Imported contaminated feed is blamed.
"Mad Cow Disease Probe in Japan," Associated Press, September 13, 2001.
"Japan Suspects First 'Mad Cow' Case," Associated Press, September 11, 2001.
4. FORMER PIG FARM MANAGER CHARGED WITH FELONY CRUELTY
A former manager of Seaboard Farms Inc., in Oklahoma, has been charged with
felony animal cruelty for "beating and smashing [pigs] to death." The
charges stem from videotape evidence supplied by an undercover PETA
investigator. Oklahoma is one of the few states that allow criminal charges
to be brought regarding the abuse of farmed animals. Each of the 4 counts
carries a maximum punishment of 5 years in prison and a $500 fine. Seaboard
Farms is the nation's third largest pig company. Seaboard Farms responded
by stating it "has an absolute zero tolerance policy toward the inhumane
treatment of our animals." Though it considers the case to be an isolated
incident, the company claims it is conducting an extensive internal
investigation. Two years ago, a PETA investigation in North Carolina
resulted in felony cruelty charges against 3 pig farm workers, 2 of whom
pled guilty to reduced charges.
"Ex-Pig Farm Manager Charged with Cruelty," The Washington Post, Marc
Kaufman, A2, September 9, 2001.
"Seaboard Farms Responds to Arrest of Former Employee on Animal Abuse
Charges," Seaboard press release (AnimalNet), September 13, 2001.
5. THOUSANDS OF FOALS SLAUGHTERED FOR DRUG
More than 30,000 mares are kept on 402 pregnant mare urine (PMU) farms in
Saskatchewan, Alberta, and primarily in Manitoba, Canada. Each horse spends
her 5 month pregnancy confined in a stall, attached to a urine collection
tube. Estrogen in the urine is used to produce the human menopause drug,
Premarin. About 80% of the mares produce live foals, the majority of whom
are sent to slaughter for export to Europe and Japan. This article reports
on the treatment foals are subjected to at auction, and the competition
between people who want to purchase them for slaughter and those who want
to provide them with sanctuary. A companion article profiles Ray
Kellosalmi, a surgeon who rescues foals and operates a horse sanctuary.
A double-decker trailer overloaded with 31 slaughter-bound horses was
seized in Pennsylvania by a humane officer and a police officer. The horses
had been purchased at auction at the New Holland Sales Stables and were
bound for a Canadian slaughterplant. A state law enacted in May makes it
illegal to transport horses in a double-decker trailer. Horses cannot stand
upright in these trailers and injuries can result. The offense carries a
fine of up to $750 and 3 months in jail per horse. The stable may also be
charged since the humane officer observed employees there helping to load
the horses. It is the largest farmed animal consignment auction on the East
Coast. Recently stepped up enforcement of a similar law in New York has
resulted in numerous guilty convictions and $8000 in paid fines. A man
charged with 32 misdemeanor counts of illegal horse transport is scheduled
to appear in court in New York later this month. Indiana, home of the
Shipshewanna horse auction, is introducing similar legislation.
"Thousands of foals slaughtered for popular drug," Vancouver Sun, Nicholas
Read, September 8, 2001.
"The Horse Rescuer," Vancouver Sun, Nicholas Read, September 8, 2001.
"Saved from the last roundup," Philadelphia Daily News, Jim Nolan,
September 6, 2001.
Equine Protection Network news release, September 7, 2001.
6. $20 MILLION JUDGEMENT AGAINST EGG OPERATION
An Ohio jury awarded neighbors of Buckeye Egg Farm nearly $20 million in
damages. After complaining about environmental problems for years, 21
neighbors sued the company last month. The award covers negligence by the
state's largest egg operation and the nuisance of odors and fly
infestations caused by Buckeye and its owner, Anton Pohlmann. Compensatory
damages, for loss of use of property and its diminished value, totaled $4
million. Punitive damages totaled nearly $16 million. Pohlmann said the
verdict could bankrupt the company. Other lawsuits are pending. The state
of Ohio has filed 7 sets of contempt charges against the company for water
pollution and other violations.
"Ohio Jury Award $19.7M in Egg Case," Associated Press, September 9, 2001.
7. ROBOTIC MILKING BEING TRIED IN U.S.
The FDA is currently allowing robotic milking to be used on a trial basis.
Cows are trained to move through a series of one-way gates, and after 3-4
weeks learn to use the system voluntarily. As a cow enters the stall, her
teats are cleaned and sanitized and the milker attaches by ultrasound,
laser or visual scanning. Milking takes about 5 minutes. Robotic milking
makes dairying easier for operators and increases the amount of milk
produced. A Purdue dairy specialist claims the systems are better for udder
health and prevents cows from being overmilked. He acknowledges, however,
that cows are not checked for udder inflammation nor is milk quality
manually monitored. Bacterial counts are often higher. A robotic milking
stall costs about $150,000 and barns need to be modified or rebuilt. Not
all cows adapt to the milking routine. The technology has been used in
Canada and Europe for several years.
"Purdue Examines Robotic Milking Systems," AgWeb News, Darcy Maulsby,
August 20, 2001.
8. BST USE LEVELS OFF
Wisconsin use of the synthetic growth hormone, bovine somatotropin (BST),
may have reached a plateau, according to a UW survey. About 16% of the
state's dairy farms use the controversial drug. The researchers noted that
this is well below the level of use that had been expected. The 1999
statewide mail survey found only 5% of farms with fewer than 50 cows were
using BST, compared to 75% of farms with more than 200 cows. "High-end
confinement farms" were by far the most likely to use BST. The drug is
estimated to account for a 2% increase in the state's milk supply.
"BST Use Levels Off on Wisconsin Farms," AgWeb News, Darcy Maulsby, August