A Project of Animal Place
December 20, 2002
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1. EPA Issues CAFO Rules
2. NAS Report on CAFO Pollution
3. EU Agriculture Council Backs Antibiotic/Hormone Ban
4. Tyson Sued for Deceptive Ads
5. California Milk Advisory Board Sued for Deceptive Ads
6. The Midwest's Largest Farmed Animal Sanctuary
1. EPA ISSUES CAFO RULES
The EPA has released new rules for regulating waste from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). There are some 238,000 CAFOs of varying size nationwide. (The USDA's "U.S. Livestock & Poultry Demographics" (PDF FILE) report is on-line at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/ceah/cahm/Swine/Swine2000/livestockdemog.pdf ) From 1982 to 1997, the largest ones grew in number by 51%, some with a capacity for more than 1 million animals (see issue #96). They now produce an estimated 500 million tons of manure every day. Manure emits toxic fumes and pollutes water, kills fish, and spreads disease. Agricultural runoff is the biggest source of freshwater pollution. The new rule targets the 15,500 largest operations that officials say are responsible for 60% of waste runoff. This includes those with more than 700 dairy cows; 1,000 cattle; 2,500 pigs; 10,000 sheep; 55,000 turkeys; 82,000 laying hens; or 125,000 chickens. It triples the number of operations covered by the 25-year-old water pollution rules now in place. The rule goes into effect in February, and by 2006 affected operations will need to obtain permits, write manure disposal plans, and file annual reports with the government.
"EPA Issues New Rules on Livestock Waste," Washington Post, E. Pianin & A. Huslin, 12/17/02
"New U.S. Manure Curbs Don't Go Far Enough - Critics," Reuters, Charles Abbott, 12/16/02.
2. NAS REPORT ON CAFO POLLUTION
Animal agriculture accounts for 50% of the ammonia, 25% of the nitrous oxides, and 18% of the methane generated by human activity in the U.S. A new report released by the National Academy of Sciences says the government hasn't devoted adequate resources to accurately estimate agricultural emissions and develop mitigation strategies. It says regulators should adopt a broader method for estimating air pollution and greenhouse gases from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The academy recommends that the EPA focus on ammonia, nitrous oxides and methane from feedlots, as well as 3 emissions with a local impact: odor, particulate matter and hydrogen sulfide. It calls for the EPA and USDA to set up a joint council to oversee research. Environmentalists praised the report, noting that industry will no longer be able to stave off action with claims of insufficient science. The 225-page report which can be viewed online at: http://www.nap.edu/books/0309087058/html
"Council Wants Feds to Control Emissions," UPI Farming Today, Gregory Tejeda, 12/17/02.
3. EU AGRICULTURE COUNCIL BACKS ANTIBIOTIC/HORMONE BAN
European Union (EU) agriculture ministers have agreed that hormones and the remaining antibiotics still used as farmed animal growth promoters should be phased out. Antibiotics used in human medicine have already been banned from animal feed. The new EU regulation will strengthen the control of all types of animal feed additives and complete the EU's drive to phase out antibiotics as growth promoters. The proposal now goes back to the European Parliament for a second and final vote (see issue #60) and will enter into force upon completion of the co-decision process. The Council and Parliament are expected to finalize the regulation text by mid-2003. The drugs are to be removed from EU markets by 2006 though that deadline may be shortened by one year.
"European Court Upholds Ban on Animal Feed Drugs," Reuters, September 11, 2002.
"Commissioner David Byrne welcomes Council support for legislation banning hormones as growth promoters," EU Commission press release, December 16, 2002.
4. TYSON FOODS SUED FOR DECEPTIVE ADS
Tyson Foods is being sued by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) for misleading consumers with ads about its chicken being "all natural" and "heart-healthy." PCRM objects to the "all natural" claim due to the company's use of antibiotics and the potential for Tyson chicken to transmit antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Tyson chicken was recently found to have a high Campylobacter contamination rate (see issue #97). Regarding the "heart-healthy" claim, PCRM points out that even the American Heart Association, which Tyson has paid to endorse some of its products, does not recommend the consumption of an unlimited amount of chicken. One Tyson ad encourages consumers to eat chicken "as often as you like" as a way of protecting their health. Dr. Neal Barnard, president of PCRM, said, "Americans are eating one million chickens per hour, but the truth is that chicken has nearly the same high concentrations of cholesterol and saturated fat as beef. In fact, chicken consumption is a major contributor to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases." A Tyson spokesperson counters that its labeling is within USDA regulation. PCRM is not seeking monetary compensation but wants the ads stopped. A court could order Tyson to undertake a public information campaign explaining that raising chickens in certain conditions could make consumers sick. Meanwhile, PCRM has begun a counter-campaign this week with a "Natural Born Killer?" ad in USA Today. The ad can viewed at: http://www.pcrm.org/health/tyson.html
"Tyson opens office in Washington, D.C.," Watt Poultry USA, December 9, 2002.
5. CALIFORNIA MILK ADVISORY BOARD SUED FOR DECEPTIVE ADS
PETA has filed an injunction to stop the California Milk Advisory Board from continuing its "Happy Cows" campaign (see issue #66). PETA says California cows do not live on grassy hillsides as depicted in the 2-year-old campaign but instead live in filthy lots devoid of vegetation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) previously decided not to pursue a complaint by PETA but didn't determine whether the ads complied with FTC law (see issue #88). Jim Reynolds, professor of veterinary science at UC Davis and chair of the American Assoc. of Bovine Practitioners, said consumers know the difference between fantasy and reality, and that 40-50% of the animals in the California dairy industry are kept in new facilities which are clean and "a happy place to be a cow." The article notes that the suit doesn't seek a ruling on the happiness of California cows but whether the ads' depiction of bovine living conditions are illegally deceptive. It also tells about the short lives of the animals used by the industry.
PETA Sues California Milk Board Over False Advertising," PETA web site.
California Milk Advisory Board
6. THE MIDWEST'S LARGEST FARMED ANIMAL SANCTUARY
Dorothy Davies and Monte Jackson moved to a 60-acre Michigan property 21 years ago with the intent of providing food for themselves. After slaughtering chickens they became vegetarian. "It's one thing to get meat from the store, but it's different when you have to do it yourself," Ms. Davies said. They began taking in animals they found and from humane societies, and started the Sanctuary and Safe Haven for Animals, a.k.a. SASHA Farm, now the largest sanctuary for farmed animals in the Midwest. All 225 nonhuman animal residents have been rescued from some type of neglect or abuse. They include chickens rescued from cockfights and from the Ohio Buckeye Egg Farm disaster (see issue #2), burros rounded up as part of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management program, pigeons used as live targets in Pennsylvania, pigs, horses, sheep, cats, dogs, cows, geese, and turkeys. SASHA Farm's mission is to provide life-time care for abused, abandoned or neglected animals. All of the male animals are neutered and the female cats and dogs are spayed. SASHA Farm recently incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. To retain its federal non-profit status, it must be completely financially independent within 5 years. Ms. Davies hopes in the future to provide spay/neuter assistance for low-income families, and additional outreach and education. The farm is open to the public on an almost daily basis.