Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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June 14 , 2006 -- Number 21, Volume 6


1. GOVERNMENT MEAT PURCHASES, ANTIBIOTIC LEGISLATION

Currently, there is no federal law regulating the treatment of farmed animals while they are on the farm. The Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act, introduced in the U.S. Congress on June 8, would require producers who supply animal products to the federal government provide adequate shelter, space, food, water and veterinary care for farmed animals. The government spends billions of dollars annually on food for programs and agencies, and this measure would help the U.S. catch up with the European Union, which is already mandating welfare improvements. Nationwide, Americans “overwhelmingly support improved federal protection for farm animals,” according to several recent independent polls.

Maine is posed to become the first state to establish a meat-purchasing policy. Under it, state agencies would be restricted from purchasing meat obtained from animals who were fed types of antibiotics that are also used as human medicine. An estimated 70% of antibiotics and related drugs used in the U.S. each year are put in feed to promote growth and counter the effects of overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. Half of these drugs belong to the same classes of antibiotics used as human medicine, and overuse of them could cause bacteria to become resistant to them. Five other state and federal actions have also been recommended.

At the federal level, The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (S. 742/H.R. 2562) seeks to phase out as feed additives the use of antibiotics important in human medicine. It will also require agricultural antibiotic producers to report the quantity of drugs they sell, their claimed purpose and dosage form.



Lawmakers with a Conscience
The Humane Society of the United States, June 9, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/rrl6g

Maine Adopts Meat Purchasing Policy
The Prairie Star, June 12, 2006
http://www.theprairiestar.com/articles/2006/06/12/ag_news/updates/update03.txt

Maine Says ‘No’ to Animal Antibiotics
Capital Update (National Pork Producers Council), June 9, 2006
http://www.nppc.org/wm/show.php?c=3



2. ASSAULT ON BATTERY

“Shocking conditions” were documented by The Humane Society of the U.S (HSUS)’s first undercover investigation in its current campaign against battery cages. Employed there for a few weeks last winter, the whistle-blower’s main job reportedly was to remove dead birds from battery cages. During that time, he is said to have “pulled out hundreds of corpses for eight hours every day.” The investigation took place at a Michael Foods egg farm in Wakefield, Neb. The company, which has 14 million hens, primarily supplies liquid eggs under the Waldbaum name to Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s, Hostess, Kraft, Mrs. Smith’s, Pillsbury, and others. HSUS accuses Michael Foods of failing to adhere to the United Egg Producers minimal voluntary standards, which 80% of the U.S. egg industry claims to follow. While Nebraska exempts common agricultural practices from its anti-cruelty laws -regardless of how cruel they may be- HSUS contends that the practices at Michael’s may not be common ones. Michael’s said it is looking into the matter and that it cages birds in order to protect their health and egg quality. The footage and expert testimony about it can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/hwpqt

The joint campaign against battery cages is meeting with success. Last year, Earth Fare, Jimbo's Naturally, Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Natural Marketplace agreed to sell only cage-free eggs. Such eggs now account for an estimated 2-5% of the shell egg market. Trader Joe's has agreed to only use eggs from uncaged birds for all of its brand-name eggs, and about 90 schools are also promising to reduce their use of caged hen eggs in their dining facilities. According to recent U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, cage-free eggs cost nearly three times more than conventional ones. The Chicago Tribune examines the campaign and defines the numerous labels used to market eggs (see source below). Some additional elements of the nationwide campaign are featured at: http://tinyurl.com/mpmq2

Following the Parliamentary presentation of a petition with over 50,000 consumer signatures calling for the labeling of eggs from battery cages, two of New Zealand’s largest egg companies have agreed to label their cartons as “Cage Eggs.” The petition complements the pending Consumer Right to Know Bill, which also calls for mandatory labelling. Last month, following a complaint by animal advocates, the country’s Regulations Review Committee recommended the layer hen code be rewritten to include a phase-out of battery hen cages.



Humane Society Tags Michael Foods Program
Lincoln Journal Star, Richard Piersol, June 13, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/flqu5

‘Cage-Free’ Eggs Take Flight
The Chicago Tribune, Marni Goldberg, June 11, 2006
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-606110286jun11,1,1457846.story

Battery Hen Opponents Lay Claim to Second Win
SAFE press release, June 14, 2006
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0606/S00133.htm



3. PIG WELFARE ASSURANCES & REVISIONS

Designed to address consumer concerns about animal well-being on U.S. pig farms, the Pork Industry Animal Care Coalition has announced the new Pork Quality Assurance Plus welfare certification program. It was developed by the Pork Industry Animal Care Coalition, which is composed of pig producers, meat packers, processors and retailers, and restaurants and their associations. Scheduled for launch on July 1, 2007, with a 3-year implementation period, the program consists of training, on-farm assessments, certification and an auditing process. The PQA Plus program combines aspects of the Swine Welfare Assurance Program and the Pork Quality Assurance certification program.

The most common “welfare” label on pork is the National Pork Producers Council’s Swine Welfare Assurance Program. (SWAP). “The SWAP guidelines are a complete farce, endorsing practices so cruel that they’re illegal in many countries,” criticizes People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The organization points out that the program permits castration and tail docking without any pain relievers, it allows pigs to be housed in tiny, filthy crates in which they cannot turn around, and it allows sick or injured pigs to be killed with gunfire or electrocution or “by swinging them headfirst into concrete floors.”

Australia is revising its national Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Pigs. Comments on the changes are being accepted until July 31st from individuals and organizations within Australia. An on-line survey has been set up for this purpose: http://tinyurl.com/pnttc Animals Australia has criticized the survey and is urging concerned individuals to protest to their legislative representatives about it. A web page has been set up for this: http://tinyurl.com/fr8d2



Pork Expo: New Animal Welfare Certification Announced
Dow Jones Newswires; Curt Thacker; June 9, 2006
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=43879

The Truth Behind the Swine Welfare Assurance Program
PETA press release
http://www.goveg.com/organic_truth.asp



4. GROCERY STORE INITIATIVES

Whole Foods Market is testing the use of a “lobster condo” – a cooler, dimly lit tank that is less like a curiosity – until June 15. If managers decide this is not enough of a welfare improvement, live lobsters will no longer be sold. A month ago, the company pulled live soft-shell crabs due to welfare concerns, and it will soon review the treatment of live mollusks.

The grocery store chain Safeway has also announced it will stop selling live lobsters, saying the animals are not a big seller for them. PETA contends that lobster tanks are inhumane because the lobsters are starved and often piled on top of one other, whereas in their natural environment they are solitary. The two entities have undergone a “sea change” in their relationship. In 2001, PETA launched a website called Shameway.com, alleging that Safeway was not demanding higher welfare standards from its meat and poultry product suppliers. The threat of a consumer boycott may have helped persuade the chain, which now “audits” its suppliers in regard to the treatment of pigs and cattle before and during the slaughtering process. Safeway is also forming an animal welfare committee. PETA is now urging it to adopt a policy requiring suppliers use gas (controlled-atmosphere killing) to slaughter birds.



Lobster Condos Aimed at Kinder Cooking
The New York Times, Brenda Goodman, June 10, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/10/us/10crabs.html

Safeway, PETA Retract Claws
East Bay Business Times, David Goll, June 11, 2006
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/13269156



5. ATYPICAL MAD-COW STRAINS

The two native-born U.S. cows who contracted mad-cow disease were infected with an “atypical” strain, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Scientists do not know whether the atypical strain is caused by feeding cattle feed with contaminated ruminant offal or if they are caused by something else – or if it simply appears spontaneously in older cattle. The USDA is not planning to alter the way it safeguards the country’s beef supply. Current USDA regulations prohibit beef from nonambulatory animals for human consumption and require that certain “risky” bovine tissue be removed before processing. The feeding of bovine material to other cattle is also illegal.

Latest U.S. Mad-Cow Cases are ‘Atypical’ Form
The Wall Street Journal, Bill Tomso, June 10, 2006
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114989671220976731.html

Latest U.S. Mad-Cow Cases are ‘Atypical’ Form
The Rapid City Journal, Chris Clayton, May 31, 2006
http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2006/05/31/news/local/news05.txt







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Compiled and edited by Cat Carroll and Mary Finelli, Farmed Animal Watch is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.