A Project of Animal Place
March 1, 2002
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1. Animal Welfare Dominates Egg Industry Meeting
2. Pork Board Efforts to Address Pig Transport Problems
3. Applebee’s Welfare Demands Disturb Industry
4. PETA Commences Safeway Boycott
5. Welfare of Farmed (And Wild) Fish
6. Morristown First to Declare Farmed Animals Sentient
7. Upcoming Events
1. ANIMAL WELFARE DOMINATES EGG INDUSTRY MEETING
United Egg Producers (UEP) held an early board meeting devoted almost entirely to discussing animal welfare issues. “It is obvious that the animal welfare activists have been working hard,” the article notes. Present at the meeting were representatives of the supermarket and restaurant industries. It is anticipated that these two groups will accept welfare guidelines developed by UEP’s Scientific Committee if enough egg operators follow them. UEP’s attorney stated that this development is probably the biggest issue to ever be presented to the industry. According to the guidelines, space allowance per hen will increase to 67 inches by April 2008. This will probably be accomplished by a reduction in the number of hens housed. Beak trimming, molting, handling and transportation were also discussed. It was said that more time is needed for research into molting without feed deprivation. [An Illinois bill to ban forced molting was recently defeated (see back issue #54).] A government-funded plan for ‘disposing’ of “spent hens” was mulled over, as was certification of operations which follow the guidelines. UEP congratulated itself for being more proactive than the European egg industry. However, it was acknowledged that the outlawing of cages is a “grim reality” if the program isn’t followed. At a related event, it was noted that the industry faces major challenges in the months and years to come, and that the opposition has dramatic ideas which can generate interesting press.
“Animal Welfare Issue Dominates UEP Meeting,” Egg Industry, John Todd, February 2002.
2. PORK BOARD EFFORTS TO ADDRESS PIG TRANSPORT PROBLEMS
An estimated 170,000 pigs die in transport and 420,000 are crippled in transit each year. Given the 100 million pigs slaughtered annually, this translates into an average transport mortality rate of 0.17% and a lameness rate of 0.42%. These are the findings of a recent industry survey. Bruising alone cost the industry $48 million annually. Abusive handling is a major factor. To address these losses and increasing pressure for animal welfare improvements, the National Pork Board is sponsoring the Trucker Quality Assurance (TQA) Program to address. PETA’s recently filed a petition with the USDA arguing that the federal transportation-to-slaughter mandate for humane handling is being violated (see back issue #45). If it is determined that there are transport problems at slaughter, a plant could lose its ability to kill and process pigs. Program details are explained in the article.
“Quality Assurance Program Launched,” National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, February 15, 2002
3. APPLEBEE’S WELFARE DEMANDS DISTURB INDUSTRY
A letter of extensive animal welfare guidelines sent by Applebee Restaurants to its suppliers is causing the National Pork Board (NPB) and other industry groups “deep concern.” The industry groups sent a letter to slaughterplants stating that the standards are not scientifically based, and that the Appleby language resembles wording employed by animal rights groups. Appleby’s is accused of setting a dangerous precedent by independently addressing animal welfare concerns. An NPB spokesperson stated that production practices that may be short-term stressors provide long-term benefits to the animals and the operations. “As sound science evolves, animal welfare guidelines will change,” he noted.
The Pork Board is revising its hefty “Swine Care Handbook.” Specific guidelines for gestation stall size will no longer be included since no research was found supporting a specific stall for a specific size animal. A series of fact sheets is being developed for industry and veterinarians which will cover welfare considerations. A “Swine Welfare Indexing System” is being developed to list objective production measurements. The first index will address gestation housing. $400,000 has been allocated to research sow mortality, sow housing, transportation of young pigs and euthanasia timing.
“Pork Board Reacts to Welfare Demands,” National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, February 15, 2002.
4. PETA COMMENCES SAFEWAY BOYCOTT
PETA has begun a boycott against Safeway after lobbying efforts with the national supermarket chain failed. It is the latest in a line of food giants PETA has targeted to require minimal farmed animal welfare standards of their suppliers. Safeway had instead turned to an industry trade group, the Food Marketing Institute, to research and define standards for suppliers to follow. PETA argues that Safeway can dictate standards and do so in a more timely manner. An incident of gross animal abuse by a Safeway supplier was dismissed as an isolated incident that was immediately addressed. Safeway contends that it requires its suppliers to meet all government safety and sanitation requirements.
“PETA begins Safeway boycott,” The Dallas Morning News, Maria Halkias, February 26, 2002.
5. WELFARE OF FARMED (AND WILD) FISH
Fish farming has been criticized for environmental reasons including the heavy use of antibiotics and pesticides, and the threat of escaping fish harming wild ones. Now a major report condemns intensive fish farms on animal welfare grounds. Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), a British-based organization, has released “In Too Deep – The Welfare of Intensively Farmed Fish.” These fish suffer fin and tail injuries, disease outbreaks, physical deformities, blinding cataracts, abnormal behavior, parasite infestation and high mortality rates. Losses in Europe average 10-30% during the sea-raising phase alone. Fish are commonly starved for 7 days or more prior to slaughter. They are commonly rendered immobile rather than insensible at slaughter, resulting in their being processed while still alive and fully capable of immense suffering. The killing of wildlife -including seals, sea lions, mink, otter and birds- in predator control programs is also condemned. Other CIWF accomplishments are mentioned in the article.
Data on 12 Oregon rivers collected over 26 years concludes that hatchery fish are poor breeders - 1/3 to 1/8 as prolific as native fish. Hatchery programs to preserve fish species are actually adding to their demise. Additionally, about 10% of the wild population is lost due to mortal injuries suffered during capture and release by anglers.
“Animal rights activists wade into fish farm controversy,” The Vancouver Sun, Stephen Hume, February 28, 2002.
“Hatcheries actually hurt survival of salmon, new study,” The Vancouver Sun, Scott Simpson, February 28, 2002.
6. MORRISTOWN FIRST TO DECLARE FARMED ANIMALS SENTIENT
Morristown, N.J. has become the first municipality in the nation to acknowledge that farmed animals are capable of feeling and suffering. The town council adopted a proclamation drafted by Farm Sanctuary, which is lobbying to improve conditions for these animals. Though Morristown has no farms, and the proclamation has no force of law, the city administration saw the logic behind it. New Jersey’s agricultural industry considers the issue a critical one which could result in major changes in production methods. Farm Sanctuary credits the state with being the first “to require the development of standards for the humane treatment of farmed animals.” Though funding for the effort, begun in 1996, has fallen through, the state Dept. of Agriculture is not opposed to uniform standards to use as guidelines. Farm Sanctuary hopes others will follow Morristown’s lead. (See “Upcoming Events” below.)
“Morristown has feel for animals,” Daily Record, Jon Zlock, February 27, 2002.
7. UPCOMING EVENTS
THE GREAT AMERICAN MEATOUT - March 20, 2002. “The World’s Largest Grassroot Diet Education Campaign.” Promoted by the Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM). http://www.meatout.org
HUMANE LIVESTOCK HANDLING SEMINAR - Kansas City, Mo., March 20-21, 2002, sponsored by the National Meat Association. Featuring Dr. Temple Grandin, an internationally recognized authority on animal handling. Register by calling: 510/763-1533. A pdf brochure can be downloaded at: http://www.nmaonline.org/NEWS___INFO/Events/Seminars/seminars.html#handling
FACTORY FARMING FORUM AND RALLY - Trenton, N.J., April 7-8, 2002. Speakers include Gene and Lorri Bauston, Sue Coe, Howard Lyman, Wayne Pacelle, Peter Singer and David Wolfson. Presented by Farm Sanctuary, sponsored by Compassion in World Farming, The Fund for Animals, and The Humane Society of the United States.