Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

July 18, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #23 Volume 2


1. Buckeye Egg Farm Ordered Closed
2. Mass Slaughter of GM Sheep
3. Ackerman Amendment Narrowly Defeated
4. KIRO Faulted, Expands Expose'
5. Opposing Beef, Dairy Checkoff Rulings
6. N.J. Welfare Standards Update
7. Consumer Power
8. Alternative Production: Economics & Ethics
9. Antibiotics & Cruelty; Food Addictions

The Ohio Department of Agriculture has ordered Buckeye Egg Farm closed on account of its chronic environmental violations (see issue #64). The state's largest egg company, producing 2.6 billion eggs last year, has until June 1st to close its production facilities and until September 1st to remove all manure. Buckeye said it will appeal the order. Owner Anton Pohlmann (see issue #64) has retired to his native Germany and the facilities are up for sale. ISE (see N.7, V.2) and Ohio Fresh Eggs have expressed interest in them. Any new owner would have to abide by the additional environmental requirements Buckeye was previously ordered to meet. Industry analysts also expressed reservations about the ability to repopulate the facilities once the company's 14.8 million hens are removed. Animal protection advocates are anxious about the fate of the hens. They could be sold for slaughter or otherwise killed and burned, buried or rendered. Due to the possibility of disease, it is doubtful the hens would be sold to another egg company. A spokesperson for the Humane Society of the U.S. expressed concern that gassing the birds to death, said to be the typical way of killing hens en masse, would not be humane. Shutdown operations are to begin August 5th.  
"Analysts: Buckeye Egg Buyers Would Face High Startup Costs," NBC 4 News, July 10, 2003.
"Egg Farm Shutdown Stirs Fear of Cruelty," The Toledo Blade, Kelly Lecker, July 15, 2003.      

The slaughter of up to 3,000 genetically-modified (GM) sheep has begun in Scotland. The sheep were being used in trials of a drug being produced in their milk which might slow the progress of hereditary emphysema and cystic fibrosis in humans. PPL Therapeutics (see issue #49) undertook the action after pharmaceutical giant Bayer pulled out of joint drug trials which proved prohibitively expensive. The sheep needed to be continually monitored for potential infections, and extensive recordkeeping was necessary. The GM sheep cannot be used for food, and strict environmental regulations require they be killed and incinerated the same day. The Director of the Church of Scotland's society, religion and technology project, who is also the external member of PPL's ethics committee, said: "The implications for the animals of [PPL's] research was small but the benefits to humans would have been's sad." A spokesperson for the Scottish SPCA noted that sheep are slaughtered every day and so long as it is done humanely the organization has no problems with the flock depopulation. She lamented "They seemed to be on the cusp of something new and it's a shame that will have ended." PPL was formed to commercialize transgenic technology developed by the Roslin Institute, famous for the birth of Dolly, the world's first cloned mammal (see N.6, V.2). The company has another 3,500 sheep in New Zealand and hopes to retain some of them for future technological experimentation.
"Dolly Creators Begin Mass Slaughter," The Scotsman, Sharon Ward, July 15, 2003.

The Ackerman-LaTourette Amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations bill, which sought to prevent nonambulatory animals from being used as human food (see N.22, V.2), was defeated on Monday by 3 votes (202:199). Rep. Ackerman pointed out that leading fast-food chains don't accept the meat of animals who were nonambulatory and the government no longer permits it in the federal school lunch program. He also pointed out that such use of nonambulatory animals is inhumane. Opponents argued there are already laws to prevent such animals from being inhumanely handled. They said a ban would prevent USDA inspectors from detecting cases of "mad cow" disease and create an underground market for the slaughter of ill and injured animals. Proponent Marcy Kaptur (D - Ohio) countered that few nonambulatory animals are actually tested for the disease. The USDA estimates 130,000 nonambulatory animals are taken to slaughterplants each year. The vote of each congressperson on this roll call can be found at: The Downed Animal Protection Act (H.R. 2519 and S. 1298) has been reintroduced in the House and Senate:
"House Narrowly Defeats Ban on Sale of ‘Downed Animals,'" Associated Press, Frederic J. Frommer, July 14, 2003. or,0,5485688.story?coll=ny-ap-regional-wire

A hearing by the Washington News Council, an unofficial state media body, faulted KIRO TV for lack of accuracy, fairness and balance in its expose' of nonambulatory animal treatment at an area slaughterplant (see N.19, V.2). The council panel consisted of 15 media professionals and lay persons who heard testimony from industry complainants and reviewed the expose'. KIRO declined to participate, later issuing a statement declaring "the council's agenda was not to determine whether the stories were factually accurate, but whether they met some vague concept of fairness asserted by the beef and dairy industry cheerleaders." KIRO has continued its series with testimony from former state Department of Agriculture inspectors. The station also explained to viewers how "a host of state agencies are spending tax money in a campaign to discredit our findings" via state beef and dairy checkoff programs. The entire series, including footage, can be viewed on the KIRO web site.       
"Media: Mad About Cows," Seattle Weekly, Philip Dawdy, June 18-24, 2003.
"State Helps Fund Attack On Downer Cow Investigations," KIRO 7 Eyewitness News, Chris Halsne, June 12, 2003.

A federal appeals court has ruled that ranchers cannot be forced to contribute to beef industry promotions, known as the Checkoff program. The $1-per-animal fee, used for research and marketing, was found to be in violation of ranchers' free-speech rights (see issue #74). The program collects fees in excess of $80 million yearly. Similar checkoff programs exist for pork, dairy, eggs and other foods. They are increasingly controversial as critics accuse them of primarily benefitting large operators. Other courts have found the beef checkoff program to be constitutional, and a final decision will probably require a Supreme Court ruling. A voluntary program could replace the mandatory one.
A U.S. District Court judge recently ruled that the dairy checkoff program does not infringe on the rights of individual operators to convey a separate message (see issue #74). The organic operation that initiated the case is expected to appeal the decision. The dairy program raises about $250 million annually. Dairy Management Inc., which manages the campaign for the National Dairy Board, says it has boosted demand by 12% since the 1980's, and is necessary to compete against soft drink giants. A case against the pork checkoff is pending (see issue #91).
"Court Affirms Ruling for Beef Checkoff," Des Moines Register, Philip Brasher, July 9, 2003.
"Dairy Checkoff Upheld," Farm Progress, John Spitler, April 15, 2003.

By the comment deadline of July 4th, the New Jersey Agriculture Department had received 6,481 responses to its proposed farmed animal welfare standards (see N.21, V.2). A hearing last month on the standards drew 60-70 speakers. The 111-page "Humane Treatment of Domestic Livestock, Proposed New Rules," released in May, will cover the state's 2,700 animal agriculture operations, including some 2 million chickens, turkeys and ducks; 46,000 cattle and calves; 15,000 pigs; 13,000 sheep and lambs; and goats, rabbits, llamas and alpacas. The standards include measurements for animal weight, require protection from the elements, and mandate that penned animals be able to sit, lie down, get up, and move their heads.
Critics say the standards are anything but humane. Farm Sanctuary's Gene Bauston asserts that the standards "actually codify inhumane farming practices." "What's interesting is those kind of cruel systems do not currently exist in New Jersey," he notes, "so the department seems interested in opening the door to the worst farming has to offer." The N.J. Farm Bureau's Executive Director Peter Furey counters "The farming industry is not concerned that these standards represent a departure from normal farming standards." Rutger University's Karyn Malinowski, one of the authors of the draft, says they represent minimum standards, not best management practices. She contends that farmers already treat their animals well because their livelihoods depend on it (a counterpoint to this claim can be found at: ). The final rules are to be released this fall.
"Animal Rights Advocates Call Livestock Rules Inadequate," Associated Press, Sheila Hotchkin, July 3, 2003.
"New State Livestock Regulations Causing Furor," The Record, Candy J. Cooper, July 14, 2003. or

There were a number of articles in the popular press this week about the food industry responding to changing consumer demands. BBC News ran a July 15th piece entitled "Fast Food Faces Up to Changing Tastes" which noted that, according to the Wall Street Journal, the number of American teenagers not eating meat doubled last year, with vegetarianism having "become very ‘cool' indeed." The article also mentions the attention fast-food chains are paying to the treatment of farmed animals, noting that cost is no longer the over-riding factor in meat production. It attributes the change to public distrust and global trade, and suggests consumers may have had more to do with it than animal rights activists:
The ABC News article "Feeding Frenzy" (7/15) makes some similar observations, noting "many companies and the government are responding to both consumers and activists concerns about the food supply." It mentions McDonald's new antibiotic policy (see N.22, V.2) and the controversy over KFC's newly announced welfare standards (see N.21 V.2 (item 2)). By September 2004, meat labels may be required to tell consumers what country the animal was from (see also: ). A Colorado State University study found 73% of participants were willing to pay a 24% premium for ground beef produced in the U.S. In the U.K., shoppers of organic produce at Sainsbury's will be able to take a virtual tour of the farm it came from on the store web site. Sainsbury's is considering expanding the plan to include organic meat:
An ABC News poll found a third of Americans try to avoid purchasing food that has been genetically modified or treated with antibiotics or hormones. Another study found the number of shoppers who consider food produced by biotechnology to pose a "serious health risk" has doubled since 1997 to 30%, while another found 55% consider genetically modified food to be a "bad thing." GM food is widely used in the U.S., whereas the European Union has banned GM food from the U.S. However, marketing analysts say few people will actually change their shopping habits based on these factors. Similarly, 56% of surveyed Canadian consumers said they would eat the same amount of ground beef as before "mad cow" disease hit the country. (See: ).
"Elite Meat" is a July 14th Christian Science Monitor article about meat labeling terms and the availability of organic meat. The government does not certify meat as "natural" or "grass-fed." According to a 1982 USDA policy memo, "natural" is defined as: not containing artificial ingredients or colorants and not more than minimally processed. The term "free-range" is similarly vague (see: ). Ranchers in Marin County, Ca. are working with the local government to establish a "grass-fed beef" standard. Whole Foods has begun offering their customers primers to clarify terms such as "natural" [Viva! USA is campaigning against the factory farming of ducks sold by Whole Food. See: ].  
A Whole Foods survey found 74% of Americans are concerned about the presence of antibiotics in meat production but less than half of the people surveyed knew that farmed animals are commonly raised on feed containing antibiotics. The organic label signifies the animal the meat was obtained from was not given any antibiotics or growth hormones, received "chemical-free" grass or feed, and was treated "humanely." [Federal organic standards require that animals have outdoor access, though no amount of outdoor time is specified.] Ranchers complain that the paperwork, expense and effort needed for organic certification is prohibitive. While organic meat sales have grown 30% annually since 1990 -compared to 20% for the overall organic market- meat and meat products only account for about 4% of organic production. In 1997, there were fewer than 1 million certified organic birds and 18,500 other certified organic farmed animals in the U.S. By 2001 the numbers had grown to more than 5 million and 71,200, respectively (see also item 4 of N.22, V.2.) The article can be accessed at:          

The July 14th edition of the Christian Science Monitor also contains "In Animal-Welfare Fight, Middle Ground," a short article about welfare pros and cons of alternative farmed animal production: In it, animal scientist Edmond Pajor observes: "[A]nimals need complex environments with room to move."
Niman Ranch Pork Company, an alternative pig production business, is discussed in the article and in "New Study Could Promote ‘Old Fashion' Farming, a lengthier article on alternative pig production that ran in the June 22nd Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. It notes that, according to animal scientist Mark Honeyman, less than 5% of Iowa's pigs are not born in confinement buildings. [Iowa is the largest pig production state in the U.S.] or 
Dr. Pajor is also featured in a brief New York Times piece entitled "Animals Seeking Happiness" (7/29), which states: "Of more than eight billion farm animals processed in the United States, most are crammed into cages, stalls and indoor barns before being killed." It notes that cows used for dairy production are milked for 2-3 years before being slaughtered, while chickens live an average of 46 days from "birth [hatch] to McNugget."
OUR THANKS TO ALLEN SCHUBERT for the valuable media service he provides in continually posting many informative articles to various list servs and to the Animal Concerns site:
In the last issue of Farmed Animal Watch, McDonald's new antibiotic policy was discussed. The June 19th San Francisco Chronicle included an opinion-editorial by Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns, entitled "Human Health and Animal Welfare: Will the McDonald's policy cure cruelty to chickens?" The op-ed examines typical production practices that debilitate chickens and promote virulent strains of bacteria, necessitating the use of antibiotics. Resultant human health hazards are also reviewed. Limitations of McDonald's new antibiotic policy are noted and recommended additional actions are stated. The piece concludes by asserting that if living conditions for the birds were less stressful, fewer medicinal antibiotics would be needed and the overall use of antibiotics should decline. or
The addictive nature of certain foods was also touched on in the last issue (in "Battling Obesity"). The July 13th issue of The Orlando Sentinel included an article by Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, entitled "The Food Fix Is In." It tells in detail how new evidence shows the consumption of certain foods, such as sugar, cheese and meat, causes a chemical release in the brain which leads to cravings for more of the food. The realization of this by the cheese industry and its "scheme for identifying potential addicts and keeping them hooked" is explained. Tips for breaking such bad food habits are offered. The article concludes by noting the potential for litigation in response to food addiction, and warns "The new science of addiction may show, if nothing else, just how hard these problems will be to tackle." or