Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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July 21, 2006 -- Number 26, Volume 6


1. SOYBEAN FARMING DESTROYING THE AMAZON

The Amazon basin is home to one in ten of the world's mammals and 15% of all land-based plant species. More than half of the world's fresh water is held there and the basin’s vast forests serve as Earth’s largest carbon sink, providing a vital check on the greenhouse effect. Brazil has become the largest exporter of soybeans, and soybean farming has become the greatest threat to the Amazonian rainforest, overtaking logging and cattle ranching as the main cause of deforestation. Eighty percent of the world’s soy harvest is used for farmed animal feed. Brazilian soybeans are also “feeding Europe's growing hunger for cheap meat substitutes.” Last year, Brazil produced more than 50 million tons of soy across an area the size of the United Kingdom. Despite commitments from the government, the rainforest continues to be destroyed – almost three-quarters of it occurring illegally. The article tells of courageous efforts by local activists against soy processor Cargill, the largest privately owned company in the world. Cargill also owns Sun Valley foods, which processes a million chickens a week, with McDonald’s as one of it’s major clients.


EATING THE AMAZON: THE FIGHT TO CURB CORPORATE DESTRUCTION
The Independent, Daniel Howden, July 17, 2006
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article1181617.ece


2. USDA REDUCING BSE TESTING

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, a.k.a. “mad cow disease”) will be reduced by nearly 90%, from about 1,000 animals a day to 110. The testing level will still be ten times higher than that recommended by the World Animal Health organization (OIE) for a country like the U.S., which has had 3 confirmed cases of BSE. The decision was made based on analysis of BSE surveillance data which showed that, of the 42 million adult cattle in the country, probably 4 to 7 of them have the disease. The new testing rate could begin in about one month. According to MeatingPlace, the decision on whether non-ambulatory cattle will be allowed back in the human food supply is subject to the rulemaking process, so it will not be made “in the foreseeable future.”



USDA ANNOUNCES NEW BSE SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
U.S. Department of Agriculture press release, July 20, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/loady

USDA REDUCES BSE TESTING TO 40,000 CATTLE PER YEAR
MeatingPlace, Pete Hisey, July 21, 2006
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/webNews/details.aspx?item=16256

 

3. USDA DISASTER RELIEF FREE-FOR-ALL

Since 1990, more than $20 billion tax dollars have been given to ranchers and farmers as relief for droughts, hurricanes, floods and other weather-related incidents. One program, the Livestock Compensation Program, cost taxpayers $1.2 billion during its two years of existence, 2002 and 2003. It rewards farmers and ranchers for any weather-related disaster declared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or any disaster at all declared by the President, and it does so without requiring them to prove any actual loss. Through the program, ranchers collected nearly $1 million for an ice storm that took place a year and a half before the program was even created, others received $1.6 million for an earthquake that caused them no loss, and the 2003 space shuttle explosion provided them with another $5 million. John A. Johnson, deputy administrator for farm programs for the USDA acknowledges: "what was meant as disaster assistance ended up being given to people who didn't have a need or a loss." A lengthy Washington Post article relates the politics that shaped the program and gives examples of some of the most outrageous payouts, often requested only after the recipients were intensely prompted by federal agriculture officials to ask for it.


NO DROUGHT REQUIRED FOR FEDERAL DROUGHT AID
The Washington Post; Gilbert M. Gaul, Dan Morgan and Sarah Cohen with Alice Crites; July 18, 2006
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/17/AR2006071701237.html

 

4. MORE ON WEAKENING OF CAFO REGS; POULTRY POLLUTION

We recently reported on the weakening of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s permitting requirements for confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). More details about it can be found in an extensive article in The NewStandard. It states that CAFOs, typically “packed, fetid confinements in which immobilized animals defecate in subterranean pits,” represent the largest of some 450,000 animal-feeding operations nationwide. The EPA estimates that its proposed rule change would cut the number of CAFOs requiring permits from 18,800 to 14,100. A companion piece considers how “when it comes to minimizing the ecological costs of keeping the country fed, the definition of sustainability runs the ideological gamut, from ‘mom-and-pop’ ranches to veganism.” It points out that only 8% of the total value of pork production and 4% of poultry production came from “small family farmers” in 2003.

Meanwhile, the state of Oklahoma is suing over a dozen poultry producers with the charge that the animal waste their operations produce poses a hazardous threat under the federal Superfund law. Similar litigation was brought by the cities of Tulsa, Okla., in 2001 and Waco, Texas, in 2004, and both were settled out of court. This legal trend is alarming national farming and agricultural organizations, many of which have formed the coalition Farmers for Clean Air and Water Inc., which includes the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Over 100 House members have called for prompt action on H.R. 4341, a measure that would exempt animal manure from regulation under the Superfund law and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act of 1986.


GIANT FACTORY FARMS ENCROACH ON COMMUNITIES, EVADE REGULATION
The NewStandard, Michelle Chen, July 3, 2006
http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/3372

GRASSROOTS GROWING
The NewStandard, Michelle Chen, July 3, 2006
http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/3394

CHICKEN LITTER SPARKS LAWSUIT
The Washington Times, Joyce Howard Price, July 11, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/rqlm5

 

5. TRANSPORT TRAGEDIES

On June 26th and 27th, 2644 pigs from Ohio bound to a breeding operation in Mexico, arrived at the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Export Facility. They were left in tractor trailers until June 29th while the pen manager awaited paperwork. About 150 of the pigs died. Police said the case is being pursued as a cruelty to animals charge, a class A misdemeanor in Texas. The surviving pigs were sent on to the breeding facility. The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) is using this tragedy to again call on the USDA to enforce the Twenty-Eight Hour Law. Last year HSUS, along with other animal protection groups, petitioned the USDA to limit the time animals can be kept on trucks. See: http://tinyurl.com/ouzve

Pigs being unloaded from a truck at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, Mo. squeal as they are whipped and yelled at in a video obtained by KQTV. Others were already dead. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has lodged a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture asserting that the handling of the pigs may be in violation of state and federal laws. "The stress of course would be heat and then yelling. Anything that stresses us, stresses [the pigs]--terrifies them," attests Gary Silverglat, a 30-year veteran of the pig processing industry. Federal law bans cattle who cannot walk to slaughter from being processed off a truck. Bills that could make this the case for pigs are expected to arrive on the House floor in the next legislative session.

About 85 pigs were killed in Georgia on July 10th when the tractor trailer they were in overturned while enroute to an Alabama slaughterplant. About 85 surviving pigs were taken to a nearby farm where another 15 of them died from heat stress by the next afternoon: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/0712hogs.html

“U.S. HIGHWAY ACCIDENTS INVOLVING FARM ANIMALS” is the title of a new report by Farm Sanctuary. A copy can be obtained by contacting them at: Info@FarmSanctuary.org or (607) 583-2225.

POLICE TRYING TO DETERMINE RESPONSIBILITY IN PIG DEATHS
The Brownsville Herald, Kevin Garcia, July 6, 2006
http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/ts_comments.php?id=71549_0_10_0_C

TRIUMPH`S HOG-HANDLING COULD BE FOOD QUALITY ISSUE AND PERHAPS LEGAL MATTER
KQTV, July 17, 2006
http://www.kq2.com/news/default.asp?mode=shownews&id=3716


6. MISSING LINKS

There was a problem with the link for the Baltimore Sun op-ed by Paul Shapiro mentioned in last week’s issue of the digest. Here’s one that works: http://tinyurl.com/grqu2

The link for the European Welfare Quality conference proceedings, mentioned in last week’s issue was not included. It is:
http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/sum_proceed_wq_conf_en.pdf

 





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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.