A Project of Animal Place
April 10, 2002
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1. AI Update: 300,000 Birds Ordered Killed in VA; 30,000 in HK
2. SPCA Pleads with Industry to Stop Shipping Unfit Animals
3. "Classic Nightmare" at Scottish Pig Farm
4. Animal Welfare Logo Said to be a Con
5. Applebee's Softens Welfare Demands
6. Agriculture's Political Clout Challenged in Iowa & Idaho
7. USDA Bails Failing Meat Markets
8. Discuss Pig Handling & Stunning Techniques with Temple Grandin
1. AI UPDATE: 300,000 BIRDS ORDERED KILLED IN VA; 30,000 IN HK
In the last issue, we reported that over 120,000 turkeys were to be killed due to an outbreak of avian influenza (AI) in Virginia (http://www.farmedanimal.net/Newsletters/Newsletter61.htm). The number has since risen to nearly 300,000 with both turkeys and chickens ordered killed. The low pathogenic strain of the disease slows growth and reduces egg-laying capacity. In recent months it has been detected in Maine, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and in live-bird markets in New York and New Jersey. Virginia's last outbreak, in 1983, resulted in the killing of 1.4 million turkeys, costing the industry $45 million. More than 30,000 chickens were killed in Hong Kong last week due to yet another flare-up of the disease there. The 400,000 remaining chickens in the area are to be vaccinated.
"Virginia to Destroy Stricken Flocks," The Washington Post, Ian Shapira, April 4, 2002.
"Avian Influenza Surrounds Delmarva," Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., April 8, 2002.
"Authorities Slaughter 30,000 Chickens in New Outbreak of Bird Flu," Agence France Presse English, April 6, 2002
2. SPCA PLEADS WITH INDUSTRY TO STOP SHIPPING UNFIT ANIMALS
With fewer slaughterplants in Alberta, and large plants unwilling to accept animals in poor condition, Canadian cattle now may spend 2 or 3 weeks shunted between auctions and stockyards before being trucked long distances to U.S. slaughterplants. According to the Alberta SPCA, the number of animals collapsing in trucks on the way to slaughter is increasing. The organization is pleading with industry to stop shipping unfit cattle. The problem begins when cattle are allowed to deteriorate before being sent to slaughter. Few auction market owners or truck drivers are willing to reject animals due to fear of losing future business. Buyers can obtain ailing cattle for as little as $100. According to a Canadian inspector who deals with nonambulatory animals at the U.S. border "There's an even if they do die, I'm not out much money attitude." The dairy industry is drafting guidelines for determining whether animals are fit for travel. So far it has been agreed that shipping animals with broken legs is unacceptable.
"Don't ship weak cattle, says SPCA," Western Producer, Mary MacArthur, April 8, 2002.
"Alberta Livestock Protection System," Alberta Farm Animal Care, March 15, 2002.
3. "CLASSIC NIGHTMARE"AT SCOTTISH PIG FARM
Advocates for Animals videotaped horrific conditions at a farm run by Scotpigs, one of Scotland's largest pig companies. The Daily Record reports: "A foul stench fills the air for miles around Ormiston. Fields and ditches near the farm are filled several feet deep with raw sewage. Dozens of pigs are crammed into pens in six dimly-lit sheds. The weaker ones collapse and die where they stand, providing easy pickings for the hundreds of rats scavenging among them. The other pigs, deranged in the darkness, also nibble on the dead. Those who do survive spend several months in the squalor until they are fat enough for slaughter." Some pigs were shown to be knee-deep in manure with dozens of dead rats scattered across the floor. An investigation conducted by the Scottish SPCA did not confirm the suffering identified in the week-old video. In 1995, the head of Scotpigs was charged with and cleared of pig cruelty charges. Britain's leading food-safety expert called the conditions a "classic nightmare," and warned of the human health hazards posed by the situation. (The first cases of foot-and-mouth disease in the recent U.K. outbreak came from a badly-managed pig operation.) On April 10th a national quality assurance organization withdrew the Ormiston operation from its certification program.
"Horror at the Pig Farm," Daily Record, Steve Smith, April 8, 2002.
"Rat-infested pig farm sparks health risk fears," The Scotsman, Frank O'Donnell, April 9, 2002.
4. ANIMAL WELFARE LOGO SAID TO BE A CON
The Little Red Tractor logo, which appears on most British packaged farm items, including meat and dairy products, has been deemed "nothing more than a marketing con" by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). The logo, also known as the British Farm Standard, was introduced in 2000 to increase consumer confidence that products meet exacting food safety, environmental and welfare standards. It is managed and policed through agribusiness interests. CIWF analyzed the standards to see if they met key animal welfare criteria. Only beef met more than half of the criteria. Farrowing crates, beak cutting, and other welfare-unfriendly practices are all allowed under the standard. The British Egg Council's quality mark was also denounced since it does not prohibit battery cages or beak cutting. CIWF's findings are contained in the new report, "Farm Assurance Schemes and Animal Welfare: Can We Trust Them?" An industry representative countered: "Consumers buying red tractor produce can be sure animal welfare standards comply with all legislation and codes of practice, and go further in some instances." It is anticipated that environmental and human health organizations will now also critique the logo standards.
"Safe Food Campaign: Animal welfare logo ‘useless,' Sunday Herald, Joanna Blythman, April 7, 2002.
5. APPLEBEE'S SOFTENS WELFARE DEMANDS
Applebee's International has revised plans requiring its suppliers sign assurances that certain animal welfare standards would be met (http://www.farmedanimal.net/Newsletters/Newsletter56.htm). After receiving complaints from 18 agriculture groups, the company has agreed to wait for the adoption of industry-wide standards. The Food Marketing Institute, which represents 26,000 grocery stores, and the National Council of Chain Restaurants, representing 50,000 restaurants, are developing the standards. They are expected to be finalized in mid-2002. The committee is not discussing the standards publicly until they are adopted. Dr. Janice Swanson, a welfare advisor to the committee, said the most contentious issues are practices involving pain and distress, and space allotment for animals in confinement. Noting that it is just a matter of time before auditors monitor how animals are handled, confined and transported, she stated "Animal agriculture's time has come."
"Applebee's Revises Its Strong Welfare Stance," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, April 3, 2002.
"Cattle branding comes under fire," Omaha World-Herald, April 4, 2002.
6. AGRICULTURE'S POLITICAL CLOUT CHALLENGED IN IOWA & IDAHO
The Iowa Farm Bureau is shameless. So begins an editorial in the Des Moines Register which takes the Bureau to task for opposing a bill "that would better care for natural resources and respect the quality of life of Iowans by reasonably regulating animal-feeding operations." Iowa is the state with the lowest expenditure for environmental protection. The editorial attributes this to legislative favoritism toward agriculture interests, noting that no other industry is treated with such deference. It contends that agriculture must accept a commitment to sound environmental practices as part of the cost of doing business. Readers are urged to contact their legislators with determination equal to that of the farm lobby. Highlights of the bill are included.
The political clout of the dairy industry in Idaho, were the cow population has nearly doubled in the past decade, is the topic of another article. Industry lobbyists claim Idaho is the most regulated dairy state in the nation. This is contested by activists and legislators who are standing up to the dairy industry in this "right-to farm" state. Their efforts and their encounters with the "good old boy network" of industry and state government are explained in this detailed article.
"Editorial: Time to out-bully the Farm Bureau," The Des Moines Register, March 31, 2002.
"Dueling over dairies...Industry holds its own against increasingly vocal criticism," Times-News, Julie Pence, April 7, 2002.
7. USDA BAILS FAILING MEAT MARKETS
The USDA is accepting aid applications from sheep ranchers due to poor market conditions. The Lamb Meat Adjustment Program is a 4-year program that began in 2000 to help stabilize the domestic lamb market. More than $25 million has already been provided, and $26 million is available to increase the supply of domestic lamb meat.
The USDA will purchase up to $10 million worth of domestic bison meat to boost North Dakota's bison industry which is undergoing "severe economic hardship." The meat will be used in federal food and nutrition programs.
"USDA Provides $26 Million in Relief to Lamb Producers," AgWeb News, Julianne Johnston, April 8, 2002.
"USDA Will Buy Up to $10 Million Worth of Bison Meat Products," Meating Place News, Bryan Salvage, March 27, 2002.
8. DISCUSS PIG HANDLING & STUNNING TECHNIQUES WITH TEMPLE GRANDIN
Dr. Temple Grandin will be participating in an online discussion of pig handling and stunning techniques. The discussion will take place on the American Meat Institute web site from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST on April 23rd. Questions can be submitted in advance at: http://www.meatami.com/Template.cfm?Section=AsktheExpert&NavMenuID=113