Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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AUGUST 17, 2006 -- Number 30, Volume 6

1. CHICKEN MEAT & EGG SALES - U.K & U.S.

Sales of meat from chickens allowed to roam outdoors are growing at 10 times the rate of sales of meat from chickens raised in crowded and artificially lit sheds, according to the United Kingdom (U.K.)’s National Farmers Union. Similarly, for eggs raised in less inhumane conditions (free range, organic or barn eggs), sales increased 24% between 2002 and 2005, with sales of eggs from battery hens dropping by 8% over the same period.These alternatively produced eggs are said to be the reason the British egg market is booming, with consumers using more eggs per capita than ever before. Animal welfare concerns are cited as the primary reason why shoppers are selecting them. “Consumers are increasingly turning their backs on eggs from laying cage hens, which are often housed in poor conditions,” said Mintel market research analyst Claire Birks. The Belfast Telegraph article notes what the different egg systems entail for the birds.

Those figures were released just a week after the U.K. government published a report showing that conditions remain poor for the 800 million chickens annually raised for meat in Britain’s intensive systems. The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reported that deformities were common, and the legs of a quarter of the birds could not support their quickly fattened bodies. Of the total 860 million chickens annually produced for meat there, approximately 94% are raised indoors. Another 5% are reared free range, and the remaining 1% are reared using organic standards.

In the U.S., a new report by Research and Markets says egg sales have decreased since 2000, with concerns related to “ethical food production” promoting the sales of organic, cage-free, and free-range eggs and eggs from vegetarian-fed hens. The survey found that 27% of respondents purchase specialty eggs, particularly 25-34 year olds and 55-64 year olds. Consumer attitudes and other factors affecting U.S. retail egg sales are identified in the report, which includes a 5-year sales forecast.


BATTERY FARM BACKLASH BOOSTS FREE-RANGE EGGS
Belfast Telegraph, Louise Jack, August 9, 2006
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/food_drink/story.jsp?story=701892

FREE-RANGE EGGS DRIVE UK INDUSTRY GROWTH
Food Production Daily, Sean Roach, August 8, 2006
http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/ng.asp?n=69742-egg-free-range-battery


2. EGG INDUSTRY REACTS TO ESBENSHADE CASE

The Esbenshade Farms case (see last week’s FAW) is the first time a U.S. egg producer has been charged with cruelty regarding the conditions in which they normally keep hens. According to the defense attorney, the case is also unique in that The Humane Society of the U.S. “has essentially bankrolled the prosecution,” retaining the prosecuting attorney [having been permitted to do so by the Lancaster County (Pa.) District Attorney]. As it garners media coverage, animal advocacy groups helping to fund the case are succeeding in promoting their campaign against conditions for hens in the egg industry as a whole. Surprised industry leaders are countering by waging a campaign against “agricultural terrorism” and by attempting to explain standard industry practices to politicians and the public. The industry is also reportedly willing to review these practices and “tweak them where possible or necessary.” The article also discusses differences in Pennsylvania legal protections for chickens and dogs, and charges filed last year by Philadelphia-based Hugs for Puppies against Kreider Farms, a Pennsylvania egg production company (see previous FAW digest coverage at http://tinyurl.com/z92gm).


ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES COME HOME TO ROOST
Lancaster Online, Gil Smart, August 12, 2006
http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/24793


3. FIRE, RAIDS KILL 100,000+ CHICKENS

The ventilation system in a metal building housing 104,001 baby chickens fanned the flames of a fire at Braswell Foods, near Nashville, Tennessee, on August 15th, killing all of the birds. Preliminary indications are that the cause of the fire was electrical. Firefighters from nine stations had to haul water from a nearby lake since no fire hydrants were nearby. An identical structure housing chickens there was destroyed by fire in 2002. Replacement cost for day-old pullets is reported to be 60 to 65 cents each.

On the same day, 4,000 14-week-old chickens died of heat exhaustion at Golden Eggs, south Australia's largest egg producer, when thieves cut the power to a temperature gauge while stealing copper wire. If the act is found to have been deliberate, the perpetrators could be fined up to $10,000 or up to 12 months in jail under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Because it has to be proven that there was a willful intention to hurt the birds, Ontario’s crown attorney will not lodge cruelty charges against the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO), even though 800 chickens are claimed to have been killed during a raid on an egg production facility the two entities staged on March 23rd. The decision came after review of a case made by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which included graphic photos “of dead and dying birds, crammed in cages, with their legs and tails sticking out through the mesh at every angle.” The SPCA can press charges on its own but went to the crown attorney for legal advisement. The local SPCA had been called by a neighbor to intervene the day of the raid but declined to do so.


COMPANY WEIGHS RECOVERY FROM FIRE
Rocky Mount Telegra, J. Eric Eckard, August 17, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/mcyn9

ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS CAUSED CHICKEN HOUSE FIRE
WRAL, August 16, 2006
http://www.wral.com/news/9691625/detail.html

FARM RAID LEAVES 4,000 CHICKENS DEAD
ABC News Online, August 17, 2006
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200608/s1716850.htm

CROWN FLIES THE COOP ON CHICKEN RAID CHARGES
AgriNews, Catherine Thompson, August 2006
http://www.agrinewsinteractive.com/fullstory.htm?ArticleID=7745&ShowSection=News


4. AD BATTLE OVER ARIZONA INITIATIVE

An extensive ad campaign to defeat Proposition 204, the Arizona initiative to reduce confinement of pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal, is being financed by the pig industry [and other agribusiness interests]. Since there is no veal industry in Arizona, only pigs and only one company that produces them, PFFJ (Pigs for Farmer John), would be affected. The company, however, is not allowing reporters access to its facility. Its consulting firm, which designed the ads, said that doing so would create disease-related hazards. Although the firm rejected a reporter’s offer to undergo the same sanitizing procedures as do plant workers, it did get company approval to send its own crew in to videotape conditions there. It says the media will have to rely on that video. Proponents of the initiative are also planning to run ads. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised by both sides from various entities in and out of the state. A statewide poll in March showed 57% of those surveyed strongly support the initiative, with 21% saying they are somewhat in support. Only 13% were somewhat or strongly opposed. More information at:
Pro-204: www.yesforhumanefarms.org
Anti-204: www.azfarmersranchers.com


FOES SEND FIRST VOLLEY IN FARM ANIMAL AD WAR
East Valley Tribune, Howard Fischer, August 12, 2006
http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/index.php?sty=71552


5. CRUELTY CHARGES AFTER HORSE BILL HEARING

Days after a U.S. House of Representatives committee tried to kill legislation aimed at ending commercial horse slaughter in the U.S., a man hauling 19 horses from Mississippi to a Texas slaughterplant was charged with animal cruelty. Bryan Morgan was initially cited with 19 counts of animal abuse in Texarkana after police were alerted that several of the horses had abrasions and marks across their faces and bodies (photo at: http://tinyurl.com/hpona). "It looked like someone took a baseball bat and beat the hell out of the horse," said one witness. After consulting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, police decided not to press charges and Morgan was allowed to drive on to the slaughterplant with the horses. Upon determining that the injuries were not caused in-transit or by the other horses, Morgan was subsequently charged with 5 counts of cruelty.

The full House is expected to vote on the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act in September. (See related action in item #6.) A representative of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, who testified against the bill, asserts that “the most compelling reason for cattlemen to oppose H.R. 503 is that it sets a drastic and dangerous precedent for regulating animal agriculture.”

MAN CHARGED WITH 5 COUNTS OF ANIMAL CRUELTY TO HORSES
Texarkana Gazette, Lori Dunn, August 12, 2006
http://www.texarkanagazette.com/articles/2006/08/12/local_news/news/news07.txt

RAMSEY: HORSE SLAUGHTER BAN WOULD BE A BLOW TO PRODUCTION AGRICULTURE
Cattle Network, August 10, 2006
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=59222


6. UPCOMING CONFERENCES

TAKING ACTION FOR ANIMALS will be held at a Renaissance Hotel September 2-5 in Washington, D.C. The second annual conference is “designed to motivate, inform and inspire activists nationwide.” A rally against horse slaughter and constituent lobbying on Capital Hill is planned for Sept. 5th. See: http://www.takingactionforanimals.org.

CONCENTRATED ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATIONS IN NEW YORK STATE: Environmental and Animal Welfare Issues will be held at the Albany Law School on September 15, 2006 in Albany, New York. The 5.5 credit Continuing Legal Education course is open to the public and will synthesize “the environmental, property, and animal welfare issues that stem from the operations of large scale agricultural animal production facilities.” More info at: http://tinyurl.com/nuszx

 





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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.