Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

February 14, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #5 Volume 2


1. Update: Dairy Owner Charged With Abuse
2. Newcastle Disease Update
3. Newcastle: Cause & Blame, Cockfighting
4. Cockfighting Bills, Bust
5. 3-A-Day Dairy Campaign Contested


Jack Tuls, owner of the Dutch Touch Dairy in Idaho, has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. The charge is in regard to a cow who was left to die without proper care and without being euthanized (see N.4, V2). It stems from a state investigation which found multiple incidents of abuse occurring at the dairy last year. Initially, county officials said there was no evidence that Tuls was responsible and did not press charges. PETA urged the Twin Falls prosecutor to pursue the matter and, upon further investigation, Tuls was charged. According to an opinion piece in Ag Week: "talk of problems at the Tuls dairy has been circulating for quite some time." It says other dairy operators could have notified officials of their knowledge or even of rumors about unacceptable practices occurring at the dairy. Noting that Idaho dairying already suffers public image problems, the article recommends each of the roughly 1,000 Idaho dairies invite the local community for a tour.
"Misdemeanor Charge Filed Against Dairy Owner," Associated Press, February 13, 2003.
"PETA Urges an Idaho City to Prosecute a Dairy for Animal Cruelty,' KBCI T.V., Vince Trimboli, February 4, 2003.
"Guilty by Association? Then Take Positive Steps," Ag Weekly Online, February 8, 2003.

The exotic Newcastle disease epidemic plaguing California and Nevada (see N.2 V.2) has spread to Arizona. Some 1,670 birds have been killed there to protect the state's $63 million poultry industry. Various counties in all 3 states are under quarantine, and the USDA has declared an "extraordinary emergency" for all 3 states authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to hold, seize, treat, dispose of, and restrict the movement of any animal, article, or means of conveyance if deemed necessary to prevent the spread of the disease. In California, 1,772 premises have been quarantined, including 12 large commercial operations. On Thursday, 4 large operations were reported to be infected, the most in any single day since the outbreak began. As of February 13th, 2,071,923 birds had been killed in California to try to stop the disease, and some $35 million spent for eradication and compensation there. The USDA has issued a nationwide notice concerning potential foreign trade consequences, which are of particular concern to industry. 
"Arizona Governor Declares State of Emergency After Chickens Test Positive," Associated Press, Ananda Shorey, February 5, 2003.
"Declaration of Extraordinary Emergency Because of Exotic Newcastle, Disease in Arizona," Federal Register, February 13, 2003.
"Exotic Newcastle Disease in California Poultry," Ca. Dept. of Food & Agriculture, 02/13/03.
For a list of additional sources, send an inquiry to:

The California eradication actions have caused some to speak out in protest. A news release issued by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights and United Poultry Concerns (UPC) on February 5th describes how residents are being harassed and birds are being "brutally destroyed.... bludgeoned, shot, and gassed." The release notes that the egg industry has been trying to reduce flock size for years and the epidemic offers an opportunity for it to be compensated for bird losses. The "test and slaughter"eradication approach is criticized on both a practical and moral basis. UPC's Karen Davis states: "The filth, squalor, and stress imposed on birds by the cockfighting industry and the exhausting demands of commercial egg and chicken production guarantees infectious disease. You treat living creatures like trash, you have no welfare regulations for the birds, and this is what you get – sickness, suffering, and death on a grand scale that will ultimately affect people."
A February 3rd industry commentary disputes arguments that the industry is to blame and that a "multi-national corporate takeover of egg production is part of the cause." It counters the Humane Farming Association's op-ed about intensive confinement's culpability (see N.2 V.2) by noting that the disease was first detected in "backyard poultry"and chickens used for cockfighting. The commentator points to new animal welfare guidelines which many in the industry have recently agreed to employ. He states, "In fact, a large majority of the California eggs are produced and processed by California based and owned family farmers." The piece concludes by listing causes of consolidation which are putting family farms at risk. A new USDA fact sheet about Newcastle disease explains: "spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens....The disease is often spread by vaccination and debeaking crews, manure haulers, rendering truck drivers, feed delivery personnel, poultry buyers, egg service people, and poultry farm owners and employees." The fact sheet warns "Do not ‘skim' mature birds from a flock for sale to a live-poultry market." Smuggling birds for the companion animal trade is also implicated.     
Animal protection advocates, industry, law enforcement officials and the California Department of Food and Agriculture all condemn cockfighting for its role in the spread of Newcastle disease. Though cockfighting has been illegal in California since 1905 -as is raising roosters for fighting, participating in or attending a cockfight, and possessing fighting paraphernalia- it is growing in popularity there (see issue #92). A county detective explains the difficulty in stopping it: "These guys have two to 400 roosters, on the pretext of raising show birds. They're tied to stakes, in the open, and go through a training regimen to make them fighters." The interstate movement of roosters used for fighting is particularly problematic. Cockfighting played a part in the 1971-74 outbreak that resulted in the killing of 12 million chickens at a cost of $56 million ("$233 million, accounting for inflation").
"United Poultry Concerns (UPC) and the AVAR Criticize the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Approach to Eradicating Exotic Newcastle Disease in Birds" news release, 2/5/03.
"Detractors Blame Newcastle on Industry Practices," Poultry Times, Richard Matteis, 02/03/03.
"Exotic Newcastle Disease," Veterinary Services, USDA, January 6, 2003.

A bill to ban cockfighting in New Mexico failed after a 3-hour emotional state senate committee debate, ending with a 5-4 vote. As in 2001, the hearing was heavily attended, primarily with opponents of the bill. Dozens of them picketed the Capitol prior to the hearing (see article photo). Cockfighting is widely regarded in New Mexico as an admirable Hispanic cultural tradition. The article includes an explanation of the operation of a cockfighting pit at a 500-seat club.
Despite popular support, a Hawaiian bill to make cockfighting, dogfighting and aggravated cruelty to animals a Class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison was shelved. Currently, cockfighting is a misdemeanor usually punished with a fine. The law would have made it illegal to own, train, sell or help raise a rooster with the intent of using him for fighting purposes. The House Judiciary Chairman questioned its constitutionality, noting the bill was similar to one that failed last year.
Oklahoma's Supreme Court justices have postponed a hearing on cockfighting until a request that they be disqualified from the case is resolved. The hearing, requested by the Attorney General, was to determine if the referendum question to ban cockfighting, which was approved in the November election, is constitutional (see issue #94). A lawyer representing cockfighters filed a motion for the judges to be disqualified, arguing that they were apparently influenced by editorials or their own prejudices in their unanimous rulings against cockfighters in an earlier case. Last month, the court had appointed a referee to hear the motion request but the cockfighters also want him replaced with someone who isn't employed by the Supreme Court. On February 11th, a bill making cockfighting a misdemeanor instead of a felony (as mandated by the referendum) passed a legislative committee. The bill now awaits action by the House. In the Senate, a bill is being considered which will narrow the definition of cockfighting to include only fights between birds if they are fitted with sharp implements on their legs. It also repeals the ban on possessing fighting roosters and reduces violations of this law to misdemeanors (see: ).
This week, 52 people were charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals and misdemeanor gambling resulting from a January raid on a cockfight in Georgia:
"‘Tradition' Trumps ‘Cruelty': Senate Committee Votes to Keep Cockfighting Legal in New Mexico," The New Mexican, Steve Terrell, February 5, 2003.   
"House Panel Shelves Bill on Animal Cruelty," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Pat Omandam, 02/07/03.
"Court Postpones Cockfighting Hearing," The Oklahoman, John Greiner, February 6, 2003.
"Cockfighting Bill Passes Out of House Committee," Associated Press, February 11, 2003.

The National Dairy Council (NDC)'s new $25 million "3-A-Day for Stronger Bones" promotional campaign has the National Cancer Institute (NCI) complaining. NCI says the campaign is an infringement on its 12-year-old "5 A Day" fruit-and-vegetable-consumption campaign, for which it holds a trademark. Others say the 3-A-Day campaign is a sales gimmick masquerading as a health campaign. "Dairy products and red meat are the two leading sources of saturated fat," a spokesperson for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said, "Cheese is the single biggest source of fat in the average American diet, even more than red meat." CSPI points out that the ads do not distinguish between whole-milk and lower-fat milk. The dairy web site also states: "Eating more milk, cheese or yogurt may actually help reduce the risk of obesity." The USDA, which approved the ads, has refused the NCI's request that they be pulled. It points out that the ads do not contradict dietary guidelines. The guidelines, however, clearly recommend low-fat dairy products. Noting that the USDA promotes agriculture yet also maintains the national nutrition guidelines, the article states: "When it comes to a dispute between consumers and the farm industry, the farmer usually wins." The American Academy of Pediatrics, an NDC partner, said that, had it seen the materials, it would not have endorsed the campaign unless it was changed to indicate low-fat products.
The NDC says the evidence of dairy's role in fighting obesity is so compelling it will urge government officials to increase the daily recommended serving guidelines for dairy products. Others, including the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, are calling on the USDA to add calcium-fortified soy milks, rice milks, and juices as mandatory alternatives to cows' milk in all child nutrition programs. The USDA will be making recommendations to Congress, which is currently reviewing the Child Nutrition Acts, the source of federal food programs.   
"For Your Health Or Their Business?" The New York Times, Marian Burros, February 12, 2003.
"Fight Fat," Dairy Today E-report, February 7, 2003.
"Say Yes to Soymilk in the School Lunch Program," PCRM, September 11, 2002.