Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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SEPTEMBER 28, 2006 -- Number 35, Volume 6

1. HOUSE PASSES HORSE SLAUGHTER BAN

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, H.R. 503, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (see: http://tinyurl.com/mudrj ) and will now move on to the Senate, where similar measures have been defeated in the past. The animal agriculture industries are alarmed by the success of the bill, fearing such a ban could lead to a ban on the slaughter of other species. BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly comments: “The animal rights movement has done a tremendous job of organizing their supporter (sic) who are absolutely overwhelming the opponents to this ban in contacting their elected officials.”

On Wednesday, 16 of 42 horses enroute to an Illinois slaughterplant died after the truck transporting them overturned. Seven died at the site and nine were later euthanized. The local humane society is caring for the survivors and seeking custody of them. The driver, who was reportedly in violation of USDA transportation regulations, was taken into custody on outstanding warrants and released after posting a $260 bond.


HORSE SLAUGHTER BAN GOES INTO THE FINAL ROUNDS
Beef Cow-Calf Weekly, Troy Marshall, Sept. 15, 2006
http://enews.prismb2b.com/enews/beef/v/360#a060915_6

16 HORSES DIE IN HIGHWAY CRASH
Associated Press, Sept. 27, 2006
http://www.thehorse.com/viewarticle.aspx?ID=7768

 

2. HORSE SLAUGHTER IN CANADA

In the U.S. in 2004 -- the most recent year for which numbers were available -- 65,976 horses were slaughtered (about 88,000 horses, mules and other equines). With the negative attention to the practice here, horses are increasingly being sent to Canada to be slaughtered. There, about 50,000 horses are killed for human consumption abroad each year. An additional 11,413 live horses were exported from Canada last year to be slaughtered overseas. Horses can fetch as little as 20 cents a pound at auction in Canada but can cost as much as $15 a pound once they're slaughtered, butchered and shipped to Europe and Asia. Most are from Manitoba, where the PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) industry has been collapsing over the past three years. Foals, the unwanted “byproducts” of the industry, along with former racehorses, are among the horses sold at auction who wind up at one of the country’s three horse slaughterplants. (Explains one racehorse trainer: “She couldn't run, was ugly and stupid. So we killed her.”) The September 17th issue of Canada’s Winnipeg Free Press featured a three-page article that examines the issue in detail, replete with graphic color photos and a gruesome description of transport and slaughter. The text is available on-line as noted below.


SADDLING UP FOR SLAUGHTER
Winnipeg Free Press, Paul Wiecek, Sept. 17 2006
http://tinyurl.com/jsxeq

 

3. FOIE GRAS BAN BATTLE; NEW JERSEY BILL ANNOUNCED

Animal protection advocates and religious leaders held a press conference on Tuesday to urge Chicago’s City Council to uphold the ban on foie gras (see:
http://tinyurl.com/n6ho9 ). Rather than having become an international laughingstock, as some Council members claim, they assert that the city has "gained status and respect in the world community" by outlawing the sale or intentional production of diseased duck liver. Rabbi Asher Lopatin, who has appealed to the Council’s two Jewish alderman to cease their attempt to repeal the ban, pointed out that the Torah instructs us to be sensitive to all forms of cruelty. Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, education director for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, stated that foie gras production is a procedure oriented toward “a disturbing desire to satisfy the palate to the point of promoting serious animal mistreatment." Alderman Bernard Stone, who co-sponsored the proposed repeal, said he is "not backing off." He believes he can get the 26 votes needed to repeal the ordinance. Ald. Joe Moore (49th), the primary sponsor of the ban, said "The City Council won’t be taken seriously if they do repeal this,” contending that such action would countenance “a product of animal torture and animal cruelty.”

In New Jersey, Assemblyman Michael Panter, a vegetarian, plans to introduce legislation next week to ban the distribution and sale of foie gras in the state because the procedure used to produce it (force feeding) is a "barbaric practice that has no place in any civilized society." Panter’s bill would also ban the distribution of foie gras in or out of New Jersey, although he is uncertain of the authority to ban distribution outside of the state. New York-area chefs are anxious because a major foie gras supplier, D’Artangnan, is based in New Jersey. One said that such a ban would be “a bomb in the New York restaurant scene.” Expressing sympathy for affected New Jersey businesses, Panter said: "At the end of the day, finance and economics should not take precedent over protecting living things.” Last month, N.J. Assemblywoman Joan Voss proposed a bill that would "prohibit the force feeding of ducks, geese and other poultry for the production of foie gras" (see: http://tinyurl.com/fd3gx ). Presently, there are no farms in the state that do produce it.


ACTIVISTS PRESS COUNCIL TO FIGHT REPEAL OF FOIE GRAS BAN
Chicago Sun-Times, Fran Spielman, Sept. 26, 2006
http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/72674,cst-nws-foiegras26.article

FOIE GRAS FOES SHOW OFF WHO STANDS WITH THEM
The Chicago Tribune, Gary Washburn, September 27, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/ezjgc

NJ LEGISLATOR TO PROPOSE BAN ON SALE OF FOIE GRAS; CHEFS NERVOUS
Associated Press, Janet Frankston, September 28, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/fjlow

 

4. RABBIS, ACTIVISTS PROTEST KAPPAROT

Sunday morning, a few hours before the Yom Kippur fast, many Jewish people will perform the Kapparot ritual, an ancient Jewish custom intended to transfer divine punishment to the soul of a chicken. It involves reciting a verse while waving a live chicken around one’s head three times, with the chicken subsequently being killed. Many Jews have adopted substitutes for the chicken, such as smashing a piece of pottery or giving money to charity. Some rabbis and animal protection advocates are protesting the ritual and the conditions in which the birds are transported and marketed. Chedva Vanderbrook, a board member of the Jerusalem Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and social worker, reports: “The chickens are brought to the slaughter in cramped cages without water in the broiling sun. Half of them die on the way.” She also claims that used birds are sometimes “not given to poor people, but are cruelly tossed to the side." Having seen the ritual as a child, she warns that children who witness it are either traumatized or become cruel adults.

Prominent rabbis have also spoken out against the custom. “Slaughtering chickens is an unfit custom that goes against Jewish feelings regarding animals,” states Rabbi Gilad Kariv, from the Reform Movement. He explains: “Judaism has always emphasized that the concepts of atonement, soul searching and repentance are dependent on an inner spiritual endeavor that man undertakes to correct his ways. The concept of Kapparot shifts the emphasis to external ritualistic expressions.” The chief Rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, points out: “…the Torah does teach us to be considerate of them and forbids cruelty towards animals.” He continues: “This is a very important commandment; Judaism preceded the world by 3000 years in regard to its concern for animals.” Activists with Anonymous for Animal Rights demonstrated in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, where vendors requested they leave and threw water on them. The on-line article includes photographs.


RABBIS CRY 'FOWL' ON RITUAL USE OF CHICKENS
YNet News, Neta Sela and Roi Mandel, Sept. 28, 2006
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3309121,00.html

 

5. “BIGGEST AWARD AGAINST A MAJOR CONFINED ANIMAL PRODUCER”

Said by prosecutor Charles Speer to be “by far and away the biggest award (in the nation) against a major confined animal producer,” Premium Standard Farms (PSF) has been ordered by a Jackson County, Missouri court to pay $4.5 million to three families for offensive odors. The jury also deemed the company liable for punitive damages. However, PSF settled prior to the trial’s second phase began and the plaintiffs dropped the punitive damage case. This was considered a test case to determine some standard for negotiating the 50 similar cases Speer has pending. In addition, a class-action lawsuit by a consortium of law firms seeks to represent all property owners within 10 miles of the more than 20 pig farms the company owns in Missouri. PSF argues that the odors were infrequent and minor, and that they have spent millions to control them. One plaintiff countered that the company’s actions in addressing the smell of waste from 350,000 pigs on 1,300 acres amounted to, “I see nothing, I smell nothing, and we do nothing.”

NBC recently broadcast a news report about Farm Sanctuary lawsuit against Corcpork, Inc., which challenging the intensive confinement of pigs kept by one of California's largest pig breeding facilities (see: http://tinyurl.com/fr87m ). The report included video footage of such a facility, which can be viewed at: http://www.nbc4.tv/video/9910821/detail.html

PORK PRODUCER LOSES LAWSUIT OVER STENCH
The Kansas City Star, Joe Lambe, Sept. 23, 2006
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/15588165.htm



6. MERGER OF TOP PIG COMPANIES

Smithfield Foods Inc., which raises and slaughters more pigs than any company in the U.S., has agreed to buy Premium Standard Farms Inc. (note item #5), the second largest pig meat producer, for $652 million. If the deal goes through, Smithfield would own nearly 20% of the nation's pigs and control 31% of the nation's pig-slaughtering capacity. This reflects the meat industry trend toward vertical integration, with companies killing animals they own rather than purchasing them from independent operators. The merger will enable Smithfield to produce 54% of the pigs it slaughters. "The pork industry is headed in the same direction as the poultry industry," said C. Larry Pope, Smithfield's chief executive and president. Economists expect the proposed merger will be questioned by antitrust regulators. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to examine it. The Department could block the merger or require the companies to sell some of their operations. If the agreement is terminated “under specified circumstances” Premium Standard will pay about $27.4 million and Smithfield will pay $100 million.

SMITHFIELD TO BUY HOG FARMER PREMIUM STANDARD
The Wall Street Journal, Scott Kilman, September 19, 2006
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115857644620366175.html

GRASSLEY REQUESTS U.S. REVIEW HOG PRODUCERS' MERGER PLAN
Des Moines Register, Philip Brasher, September 20, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/qpm8u







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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.