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June 9 , 2004
Number 54, Volume 2


Farmed Animal Watch is sponsored by Animal Place, Animal Welfare Trust, Farm Sanctuary, The Fund for Animals, Glaser Progress Foundation, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals


1. STUDY TO INVESTIGATE ANIMAL STRESS AND FOOD SAFETY

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has established a new laboratory in Indiana with the purpose of studying the connection between stress levels for farmed animals and their susceptibility to pathogens. “Stress in livestock can lower productivity and possibly increase the risk of contamination from Salmonella and other bacterial pathogens," said an ARS administrator. Researchers are currently working on an imaging system to map the progression of Salmonella through live pigs and studying alternative housing systems for chickens and other animals. The new lab is affiliated with ARS’s Livestock Behavior Research Unit (see http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/usda/).

“Does Stress-free Livestock Mean Safer Food?” Food Navigator, Lindsey Partos, June 4, 2004
http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/news-NG.asp?id=52589

“New USDA Lab to Study Stress Indicators in Livestock,” USDA/ARS, Don Comis, June 3, 2004
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2004/040603.htm

2. FARMED ANIMAL GENOME STUDIES AND MEAT PRODUCTION

With the sequencing of human DNA recently completed, genetics researchers are moving on to other species of animals, including farmed animals. At least three dozen research teams have sequenced or are preparing to sequence the DNA of chickens, fish, bees, cows, and other animals. Most of the work -- which is driven by the National Human Genome Research Institute -- is said to be aimed at benefiting human health, but in some cases the advancements are being used to satisfy taste preferences. Cargill, a top US meatpacking company, has used the cow genome to develop a feedlot test that can predict an animals’ likelihood of producing flesh that is more desirable to consumers. The Cargill study was based on 14 million genetic tests with more than 3,000 cows raised for beef.

“Human Genome Project Moving on to Other Animals,” MercuryNews.com, June 7, 2004
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/8862629.htm (REGISTRATION REQUIRED)

“Genetic Test Developed by Cargill Could Predict Better Beef Traits,” Meatingplace.com, Eric Hanson June 8, 2004
http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/pop.asp?ID=12490

National Human Genome Research Institute: http://www.genome.gov

3. GLOBAL CASES OF DISEASES IMPACTING FARMED ANIMALS

Several recent cases involving farmed animal diseases have resulted in thousands of animal deaths in South Africa and the UK. In South Africa’s Western Cape, more than 5,000 pigs have died as a result of a cholera outbreak that a state veterinarian says has a “slight possibility” of spreading to humans. In the UK, the governmental Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said that it investigated 20 cases of botulism last year, almost four times the yearly average. As a result, DEFRA warned beef and dairy producers to take precautions against botulism, including not using poultry litter and properly disposing of dead animals. Also in the UK, a DEFRA spokesperson said that the organization is investigating a “mysterious disease” that caused the paralysis and death of a young cow. The disease has been preliminarily identified as “a type of cattle polio” that affected the white matter of the cow’s brain. The investigation is ongoing.

“Western Cape Farm Hit by Deadly Pig Disease,” SABC News, June 04, 2004
http://www.sabcnews.com/south_africa/general/0,2172,81121,00.html

“UK: Botulism in Cattle Warning Issued,” Planet Ark and Reuters, June 7, 2004 http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/25402/story.htm

“Botulism and Poultry Litter,” DEFRA news release, June 4, 2004
http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2004/040604a.htm

“Mystery Cattle Disease 'May Pose Human Health Risk',” The Scotsman, Caroline Gammell, June 8, 2004
http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3034161

4. TECHNICAL INFORMATION ON THE WELFARE OF DAIRY COWS

The June, 2004 edition of the Journal of Dairy Science includes a number of technical articles relevant to the welfare of dairy cows, including animal physiology, nutrition and feeding, genetics, and the dairy industry in general. Descriptive titles for some of the articles that appear most relevant to cow welfare include: (1) “Bacterial Populations on Teat Ends of Dairy Cows Housed in Free Stalls and Bedded with Either Sand or Sawdust”; (2) “Hormonal and Lactational Responses to Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone Treatment in Lactating Japanese Black Cows”; (3) “The Effect of Preventive Trimming on Weight Bearing and Force Balance on the Claws of Dairy Cattle;” and (4) “Effect of Milking Pipeline Height on Machine Milking Efficiency and Milk Quality in Sheep.” Citations, authors, dates of publication, and the full text of the articles can be found by visiting the link at the bottom.

Journal of Dairy Sciences, June 2004, Volume 87, Number 6
http://jds.fass.org/content/vol87/issue6/index.shtml

5. MEAT PRODUCERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

A subsidiary of Smithfield Foods -- the largest slaughterer of pigs in the US -- has become the first major meatpacking facility in the world to receive the internationally recognized ISO 14001 certification for environmental standards. The certification is to recognize processes and systems that ensure the facility conforms to environmental regulations as well as the company’s own policies. According to the NY Times, the US Environmental Protection Agency is nearing an agreement with producers that would allow processors of pigs, chickens, and cows to regulate their own air quality for two years. Environmentalists say the so-called “safe harbor” initiative gives meat and dairy producers the ability to pollute without being subject to any liability for at least two years. Teresa Heinz-Kerry, wife of the US democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, has strongly criticized the current Bush administration for eroding the Clean Air Act, among other environmental protections (see “Other Items” section, below).

“Smithfield Packing Plant Receives Environmental Award,” Meatingplace.com, Brendan O'Neill, June 3, 2004
http://www.meatingplace.com/DailyNews/pop.asp?ID=12466

“EPA Nears Pact on Waste by Processors of Livestock,” NY Times, Michael Janofsky, June 3, 2004
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/03/politics/03enviro.html

6. US AGRICULTURE CENSUS AND CONCENTRATION OF ANIMAL FARMING

A census of agriculture is conducted every five years in the US by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), an arm of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The most recent census data covers the period 1997 to 2002, during which time the US farming industry underwent significant consolidation. There were nearly 50,000 fewer pig farms in the US in 2002, a 37% decline from the 1992 census showing 125,000 pig farms. There were also significantly fewer “cattle farms”, although such farms account for about half of the 2.1 million farms in the country. The census shows that in 2002 only 3% of farms -- those that earn $500,000 or more per year -- account for 62% of overall farm revenue, including both sales and government payments.

“Survey Finds 3% of Farms are Thriving,” Chicago Tribune, Andrew Martin, June 4, 2004
http://tinyurl.com/2q7sc (Chicago Tribune website)

To the source: National Agricultural Statistics Service 2002 Census
http://www.nass.usda.gov/census

7. OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST

“R-CALF Forced To Defend Anti-Meat Groups,” Cow-Calf Weekly, Joe Roybal, June 3, 2004
Abstract: Editorial by Cow-Calf Weekly staff, criticizing the Rancher-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) for siding with “anti-meat” groups by condemning the USDA’s handling of BSE and import/export rules.
http://tinyurl.com/2yewa (Cow-Calf Weekly website)

“Hog Heaven -- Pigs Live the Good Life at Washington Sanctuary,” Seattle Times, Peyton Whitely, June 8, 2004
Abstract: Profiles Pigs Peace Sanctuary, a small Washington State sanctuary with about 90 pigs.
http://www.indystar.com/articles/1/153090-9301-047.html

“Heinz Kerry has an Ecology Agenda,” Boston Globe, Michael Kranish, June 4, 2004
Abstract: Emphasis as a profile piece on Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, but includes specific references to the Clean Air Act and Heinz Kerry’s influence as a potential first lady.
http://tinyurl.com/3x8c4 (Boston Globe website)






CONTENTS

  1. Study to Investigate Animal Stress and Food Safety

  2. Farmed Animal Genome Studies and Meat Production

  3. Global Cases of Diseases Impacting Farmed Animals

  4. Technical Information on the Welfare of Dairy Cows

  5. Meat Producers and the Environment

  6. US Agriculture Census and Concentration of Animal Farming

  7. Other Items of Interest


RESOURCES

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Farmed Animal Watch is a free electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.

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