Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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OCTOBER 27, 2006 -- Number 38, Volume 6

1. PIGS IMPLICATED; FOOD SAFETY SYSTEM BLASTED

Bacteria with the same DNA “fingerprint” as that obtained from victims of the contaminated spinach outbreak (see: http://tinyurl.com/ucw8e ) has been found in cows only in a pasture adjacent to the field in which the spinach was grown, and from a stream running through the pasture, California health officials report. It is considered unlikely that the bacteria could have been washed into the field by rainwater since the pasture and the stream are downhill from the field, and irrigation wells are at least a mile away. E. coli taken from the intestines of one of many wild pigs who roam the ranch also had the same DNA fingerprint. There were holes in a fence between the pasture and the spinach field, and numerous pig tracks in the field. Because of this, the pigs are being eyed as suspects. A representative of the California Department of Health Services wouldn’t say whether killing off the wild pigs will be a recommended way of “reducing that risk factor.”

How many people have to be sickened or die, and how many crops and livelihoods have to be destroyed, before it becomes obvious that voluntary is not good enough? Prompted by the recent E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak, Marion Nestle, author and professor of nutrition, food studies and public health, asks this question in regard to food production safeguards. She identifies “huge gaps in the nation's century-old and highly dysfunctional food safety system.” She explains inadequacies of various government agencies, faulting Congress for not having given any of them the authority or resources to oversee what happens on farms.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, contaminated produce is now responsible for the most cases of 0157:H7. The potent strain causes infection at very low doses and survives heat, drying, and acid conditions better than typical E. coli. The “highly regarded, state-of-the-art, triple-washing procedures” employed at the facility where the implicated spinach was processed failed to eliminate it. Because of this, prevention is essential, Nestle explains, and since it takes a minimum of two weeks from the time someone becomes ill until warnings or recalls can be issued. She offers several “lessons” on improving food safety, including that cattle be moved out of feedlots and be put back on pasture. Studies show that factory-farmed cattle have 300 times more pathogenic bacteria in their digestive tracts than cattle who are allowed to openly graze in pastures. See: http://tinyurl.com/yn4fps


DID WILD PIGS CAUSE E. COLI OUTBREAK?
The Austin American-Statesman, Jeff Nesmith, October 26, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/yxj327

THE SPINACH FALLOUT
The Mercury News, Marion Nestle, Oct. 23, 2006
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/editorial/15831146.htm

 

2. ARIZONA NEWSPAPERS SUPPORT PROPOSITION 204

Opponents of Arizona’s Proposition 204, the anti-crating initiative (see: http://tinyurl.com/ybdwy6 ), contend that it is being advanced by animal rights activists from outside the state. "It is a bunch of animal right activists trying to push their political agenda on meat production here in Arizona," asserts one local rancher who claims that all the money is coming from out of state: http://tinyurl.com/yjms5l. However, Arizona's top three newspapers have come out in favor of the initiative. They include the East Valley Tribune, which acknowledges initial skepticism due to the libertarian nature of its editorial board: http://tinyurl.com/ykn389. The Arizona Republic notes that, while Prop. 204 opponents say the animals are well cared for, the one existing pig operation that would be affected refuses to grant access to reporters. The newspaper contends: “Imposing new regulations on an existing industry is a serious step. But it is appropriate to restrict business practices that fall below a level of basic human decency.” The newspaper concludes: “Proposition 204 is right for Arizona.”

Jim Klinker, administrator of the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation and chairman of the "NO on 204" campaign, argues that operating outside of confinement agriculture would cause food costs to exceed 10% of average wages. Cheryl Naumann, president of the Arizona Humane Society and head of the "Vote YES on 204" campaign, counters that of the more than 200 registered Arizona pig farms, only one employs the crates that would be banned. Both Klinker and Naumann cite professional sources supporting their positions. The campaign is a heated one, with each side spending over a million dollars in advertising and accusing the other side of underhanded behavior. A recent Grand Canyon State Poll found that 72% of likely voters said they will vote yes, with 16% opposing the ban: http://tinyurl.com/yzorpy


A SIMPLE CASE OF DECENCY
The Arizona Republic, Editorial, Oct. 19, 2006
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/1019thur1-19.html

FOOD-ANIMAL INITIATIVE RAISES HACKLES
Arizona Business Gazette, Howard Fischer, Oct. 26, 2006
http://www.azcentral.com/abgnews/articles/1026abg-pigs1026.html

 

3. UTAH AG INTERESTS OPPOSE ANTI-CRUELTY LEGISLATION

For the last two years, a bill that would make animal cruelty a third degree felony in Utah passed the state house but failed to make it through the state senate. The failure is being attributed to the effect the bill could have on animal agriculture. "We're simply concerned that whatever we do that we don't open the door to taking away from animal operations, their ability to manage their animals, do those things that have been commonly accepted for 100 150 years [sic]," stated Todd Bingham of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation. Proponents of the bill say the language in it clearly states that the agriculture community needn’t worry, noting that 41 other states have similar laws making animal cruelty a felony. “There's exemptions for animals used in agriculture or the rodeo, in accordance with accepted husbandry practices," explains Gene Baierschmidt with the Humane Society of Utah. Bingham counters: "What is commonly accepted on a farm as practices with animals is not potentially understood by the general public who has grown up in an urban setting." Supporters plan to try passing the bill through the state senate first in the next legislative session, which is still a few months away.


ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS HELD UP BY AGRICULTURE CONCERNS
KSL TV, Whit Johnson, October 24, 2006
http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=590909

 

4. "MILK-FED PORCELET"

In the U.S. pig industry, the average age for weaning piglets was reduced by 9.5 days (from 28.8 days down to 19.3 days) between 1990 and 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, for the past five years or so, the average weaning age has been increasing in order to quicken piglet weight gain and increase sow reproductivity, and for higher profitability. Piglets are now typically nursed for 2-3 weeks before they are separated from their mother, and are slaughtered at between 22-26 weeks of age: http://tinyurl.com/ww3tw. Now, Newark, New Jersey-based D'Artagnan, “known largely for its organic game and poultry” [including foie gras], has begun to exclusively distribute “a unique piglet called milk-fed porcelet.” The piglets, of the Yorkshire breed, are weaned at one week and killed at eight weeks of age. Their age and milk-only diet “are believed to foster a delicate texture and taste.” The piglets are being raised by St-Canut Farms in Quebec.


WEANING AGE IMPACT ON REPRODUCTIVE PERFORMANCE
National Hog Farmer, M. Todd, Oct. 15, 2005
http://nationalhogfarmer.com/mag/farming_weaning_age_impact/

D'ARTAGNAN MARKETS UNIQUE PIGLET TO U.S. CHEFS
Meating Place, Ann Bagel Storck, Oct. 26, 2006
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/webNews/details.aspx?item=16734

 

5. TRI-COUNTRY "TRI-LAMB" INITIATIVE

Historically, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. have considered each other as competitors for U.S. lamb consumers’ money. However, representatives of the lamb industry in these three countries will meet in Denver in early November to discuss plans for cooperative lamb meat promotion and research initiatives in the U.S. Since the beginning of the 1900s, per capita lamb consumption in the U.S. has been static or decreasing. “Up to 80% of all Americans say they haven’t tried lamb,” said Michelle Gorman, regional manager or Meat and Livestock Australia. “Annual consumption of lamb in the U.S. is about 1.3 pound (0.6kg) per person, which represents less than 1% of U.S. meat consumption, so the challenge is significant,” she explains, “In comparison, Australians consume about 22 pounds (10.2kg) per person per year.” The U.S. remains Australia’s largest and most valuable export lamb market. The “Tri-Lamb” initiative will focus on promoting nutritional aspects of lamb meat.

COOPERATION IN LAMB PROMOTION
Meat News, Oct. 25, 2006
http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&artNum=12751

 

6. FEWER EGGS IN THE E.U.

European Union (E.U.) residents will consume the equivalent of three fewer eggs per person this year as compared to last. Egg consumption had dropped the equivalent of about 4 eggs in 2005 compared to 2004. This trend is believed to be due in part to a diminishing image of eggs as a product. E.U. egg production will be 1.5% lower this year than last. Belgium and Spain in particular will experience lower egg production. Belgian egg farms are said to be in dire need of alternative housing system upgrades. Production has ceased entirely where necessary developments have not begun. A lower than expected export market is the cause of Spain’s decreased production levels.

EU PRODUCING AND EATING LESS EGGS
World Poultry, Oct. 24, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/y6jxlh

 

7. UPCOMING EVENTS

November 1st is World Vegan Day, “a global celebration of a healthy and compassionate lifestyle free from all animal products” intended “to promote health, environmental stewardship and compassion for animals.” The U.K.’s Animal Aid points out that by rejecting egg and dairy products one can avoid contributing to the death of the many millions of male chicks hatched by the egg industry every year, as well as the suffering and death of male calves born to dairy herds. The organization suggests celebrating the day by urging school and work cafeterias to offer alternatives to these products.

In the U.S., In Defense of Animals (IDA) is observing World Go Vegan Days from Oct. 27-29th. IDA is promoting it as “an excellent opportunity to help the meat eaters in your life understand why and how you became vegan so that perhaps they can achieve their higher aspirations.” Participating restaurants will be offering specials and discounts, with half-price vegan meals for each nonvegetarian dining with a vegan paying full-price. Other suggestions for participating can be found at: http://www.idausa.org/vegandays/action.html

WORLD VEGAN DAY IS FAST APPROACHING
Ham & High, Kelly Slade, October 26, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/y8gp2c

CELEBRATE WORLD GO VEGAN DAYS THIS WEEKEND
http://www.idausa.org/vegandays/feature_061025.html


THE FOOD, ETHICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE will be held Nov. 16-17 at Princeton University (in New Jersey). “The conference will explore the issues and ethical dilemmas surrounding U.S. food production, as well as the individual choices people make.” Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and Peter Singer will participate with presentations, discussions and panel debate considering:
• How industrial food production systems affect the environment.
• Comparison of locally grown and organic foods versus large-scale industrial food production systems.
• Concern for the welfare of animals raised for meat, eggs and dairy products.
• Issues for institutions regarding food choices.
The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required and seating is limited. For more information, visit http://www.princeton.edu/~eating/


'FARMING, WATER AND THE ENVIRONMENT - COMMUNICATING LESSONS INTO PRACTICE' is the title of a conference to be held November 22nd in London, England. Organized by The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (U.K.), the conference aims “to focus on farm scale delivery and the current water, environmental and agricultural environmental agenda, how this can be delivered more effectively and knowing what works. Issues that require the effective delivery of farm scale practice will be discussed during this conference: diffuse pollution, nutrients, pesticides, bacterial contamination of rivers, organic pollution, siltation of salmonid streams, muddy floods, soil erosion, enhancing the biodiversity of rivers and wetlands.” More info at: http://www.unesco.org/water/water_events/Detailed/1383.shtml





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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.