A Project of Animal Place
January 28, 2003
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Number #3 Volume 2
1. Former Circle Four Pig Farms Employees Speak Out
2. More on Circle Four Investigation
3. Australian Boycott & Raid for Pigs
4. Minimum Standards Against Intensive Confinement Fires
5. Miscellaneous Pig Housing Information
6. PIC USA "Launches Camborough 23 Gilt"
7. Gruesome Details of Poultry Processing
8. Trust and Transparency: Industry
9. Disney Does Animal Agriculture
1. FORMER CIRCLE FOUR PIG FARMS EMPLOYEES SPEAK OUT
Two former Circle Four Farms (CFF) workers came forward with complaints about the pig operation after seeing news reports about a recent clandestine investigation (see N.2, V2.). Wayne and Krysta Jenson had briefly worked at CFF in 2001 but say they quit because of the way pigs were treated. The Jensons' claim that, although the pigs were kept clean and well fed, four practices in particular disturbed them. CFF officials did not respond to the charges but Paul Sundberg, assistant vice president of veterinary issues for the National Pork Board (NPB), offered information about the practices in general.
"Welfare ProgramTraining Set," National Hog Farmer, Joe Vansickle, December 15, 2002.
2. MORE ON CIRCLE FOUR INVESTIGATION
The Beaver County sheriff has begun an investigation into the activities conducted by the Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC) against Circle Four Farms (CFF, see above and N.2, V.2). The company complained to the sheriff about the two pigs, which it had not known were missing until UARC's announcement. Farmed animals are not covered under Utah's animal-cruelty laws, but stealing a farmed animal is a felony. While the pigs are valued at about $30 each, stealing $60 worth of tools or beer, for example, is a misdemeanor.
3. AUSTRALIAN BOYCOTT & RAID FOR PIGS
A boycott of pig meat was launched in Australia last week by animal protection advocates in protest of keeping pigs in gestation stalls. The campaign, announced by bioethicist Peter Singer (see issues #69 & 93), is in anticipation of the government's review of the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Pigs, expected in the next 12-18 months. Gestation stalls have been banned in the U.K. and in Florida (see issue #92), and are being phased out in the European Union and New Zealand. An industry spokesperson said: "The farmers are complying with the code of practice. If it gets changed, we will comply with that."
"Liberationists Raid Piggeries," ABC Rural News, January 21, 2003.
4. MINIMUM STANDARDS AGAINST INTENSIVE CONFINEMENT FIRES
In New Zealand, a fire that killed 400 pigs last week has renewed the SPCA's concern for the safety of animals in intensive confinement. An SPCA spokesperson pointed out that in large confinement systems, thousands of animals can be affected when things go wrong. The organization would like to see a move to free range systems where animals have more space. Animal welfare codes to be introduced later this year will put in place minimum standards to prevent fires in intensive confinement systems. The fire is believed to have been started by a heat lamp knocked over by a pig.
5. MISCELLANEOUS PIG HOUSING INFORMATION
Advancements in sow housing was discussed at the recent Banff Pork Seminar held in Alberta, Canada. In general, group housing offers increased mobility, socialization and choice for sows. Fighting over food can be alleviated with electronic sow feeders which allow individual feeding and monitoring: http://18.104.22.168/animalnet/2003/1-2003/animalnet_january_23-2.htm
6. PIC USA "LAUNCHES CAMBOROUGH 23 GILT"
PIC (Pig Improvement Company) USA has announced the availability of "Camborough 23," a new "female product offering." Camborough 23 refers to a type of gilt [a female pig who hasn't given birth] described as "a very durable female also demonstrating strong performance in the areas of prolificacy and maternal instincts," who produce "terminal progeny with very competitive growth rates, feed conversions and lean content values." This combination of characteristics is noted as being "of specific value to producers with less than optimal production environments." The gilts are said to have been bred in "the severe environmental conditions found in state-owned farms behind the Iron Curtain." A Midwestern operator testifies: "The Camborough 23 pigs are rugged, hardy and hold up well in my pen gestation facilities."
See also: http://www.pic.com/news_desk/display.cfm?ID=103 and http://www.pic.com
7. GRUESOME DETAILS OF POULTRY PROCESSING
Consumers don't want to know the "gruesome details" of poultry processing. That was the conclusion the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conveyed to poultry industry participants at the International Poultry Exposition (IPE) held in Atlanta last week. Customers trust retailer "to make sure that the food you're selling us has been produced under animal welfare guidelines," said an FMI spokesperson who is working with industry to draft a set of welfare standards. Animal rights activists say people might stop eating chickens if they knew about the "gory process." PETA is publicizing the most common form of chicken slaughter. Instead of being bled to death, the organization charges that many birds are still alive by the time they reach a tank of scalding water [intended to loosen feathers]. Industry officials say poultry processing is safe, humane and efficient, and consumers don't want to hear about it. PETA wants the current method replaced with lethal doses of gas. Industry officials say that would be too costly.
8. TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY: INDUSTRY
In his latest "Perspective" column, Meat Processing editor Steve Bjerklie takes the industry to task for its unwillingness to share food safety and animal welfare information with the public "and the public's representative, the media." He writes: "Historically, the meat industry in America in general has felt a deep reluctance to allow the public to view its operations....An opinion that the public can't understand or comprehend why a meat plant must do what a meat plant does is condescending, disrespectful, and a big first step toward completely losing the public's trust. Moreover, in an information vacuum the public as well as the media will tend to suspect the worst. The industry has only itself to blame for that: its long record of evasion and closed-doors guarantees it. Thus, the vacuum is best filled by the industry, by being open to public and media inquiry."
9. DISNEY DOES ANIMAL AGRICULTURE
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is the newest exhibitor at the EPCOT Center at Disney World. AFBF is taking over an agricultural biotechnology exhibit which has in recent years been sponsored by Monsanto, a leading biotech company. Monsanto has donated the exhibit and space to AFBF which is to cover future costs of operation and maintenance. The focus of the exhibit will be broadened to tell urban Americans more about modern agriculture. "Most people have a 40-to-50-year-old picture of American agriculture," explained an AFBF spokesperson. The exhibit will try to update public impressions of farms and ranches.