Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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APRIL 2 , 2007 -- Number 11, Volume 7

1. BURGER KING ANNOUNCES NEW PURCHASING GUIDELINES

In two letters sent to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) during March, Burger King outlined its new supply guidelines. It has begun buying 2% of its eggs from cage-free operations, increasing the amount to 5% by 2008. It is also obtaining 10% of the pig meat it uses from operations that do not use gestation crates, and will double it to 20% by the end of the year. The company said those percentages will rise as competitively priced supplies become available. To encourage their production, a “purchasing preference” for them has also been implemented. Additionally, suppliers who use controlled atmosphere killing (CAK) to slaughter chickens will be favored. (Most of the few slaughterplants that already employ CAK kill turkeys.) The new guidelines are to apply to suppliers in the U.S. and Canada. Menu prices will not be increased because of the changes.

Both PETA and, more recently, The Humane Society of the U.S. have been pressuring Burger King. While both were consulted about the guidelines, the company said it ultimately relied on the advise of its animal welfare advisory board. “The announcement is the latest in a series of successes for activists, perhaps allowing them to move away from the fringes of American politics and closer to the mainstream,” wrote Chuck Jolley, an industry commentator. Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm, said of the announcement: “I think that the industry is going to see that it’s an increasing imperative to get on [the social responsibility] bandwagon.” PETA’s Matt Prescott concurred, also stating: "We certainly hope that people will order the BK Veggie Burger when they go into Burger King". A timeline of associated key events, compiled by PETA, can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/2plsog. See also CNBC’s “On the Money” video report: http://tinyurl.com/3dh3fh. The National Pork Promotion & Research Board plans to send materials to retailers explaining the industry’s animal welfare practices: http://tinyurl.com/3bovd2


BURGER KING PLEDGES CAGE-FREE FOOD
Associated Press, March 28, 2007
http://www.heraldsun.com/business/21-833695.cfm

BURGER KING DECREES BETTER TREATMENT FOR SOME FARM ANIMALS
KSBI, March 2007
http://www.ksbitv.com/business/6756067.html

BURGER KING SHIFTS POLICY ON ANIMALS
The New York Times, Andrew Martin, March 28, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/28/business/28burger.html

JOLLEY: FIVE MINUTES WITH BURGER KING
Cattle Network, March 30, 2007
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=117737

 

2. ON DEATH AND LIFE

In a Week in Review article entitled “Being Nice to the Bacon, Before You Bring it Home,” New York Times writer Paul Vitello notes: “When Burger King announced last week that it would favor producers who treated their animals more humanely it was welcome news to animal welfare advocates. But it also served to remind the rest of us that if we are meat eaters, we are slaughterers, too. At least by proxy.” (For a view “To the Contrary” of that presented in Vitello’s article, see: http://tinyurl.com/2vcf6z ) Author and playwright Marlene Fanta Shyer touches on this as well in an op-ed entitled “Pork: The Other Guilty Meat,” published in the Christian Science Monitor. She writes: "’It's only a pig,’ you say? We will go to any lengths to save a baby bird that has fallen from its nest. Yet, when it comes to the remarkably intelligent creatures that we carve up for dinner plates, we shrug.” While not ready to stop eating them, Shyer urges that “…all pigs [be allowed to] roam free on every farm in America, and the methods of slaughter become universally humane…”

In the San Jose Mercury News, Mike Markarian writes that The Humane Society of the U.S. (which he is with) is calling on the pig and veal industries to stop confining animals in crates. Noting pending California legislation (AB59), Markarian asserts that “federal and state lawmakers have a responsibility to implement policy changes as well.” He explains: “Congress decided nearly a half-century ago, with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958, that farm animals must have a decent death, but there are virtually no laws ensuring that farm animals have a decent life before they meet their end,” in his op-ed entitled “It’s Time to Ensure Farm Animals Have a Merciful Life.”


BEING NICE TO THE BACON, BEFORE YOU BRING IT HOME
The New York Times, Paul Vitello, April 1, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/weekinreview/01vitello.html

PORK: THE OTHER GUILTY MEAT
The Christian Science Monitor, Marlene Fanta Shyer, March 29, 2007
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0329/p09s01-coop.html

IT'S TIME TO ENSURE FARM ANIMALS HAVE A MERCIFUL LIFE
San Jose Mercury News, Michael Markarian, March 27, 2007
http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_5529433?nclick_check=1

 

3. CONFINEMENT: NORTH CAROLINA, OREGON, NEW HAMPSHIRE

At the Northeastern Regional Pork Conference, held in February 2007, Kelly Zering, an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University, considered the future of the North Carolina pig industry. According to Zering: “To the extent that the shift away from gestation crates raises production costs, it would reduce the comparative advantage of swine producers in the U.S. and Canada versus other countries…A new initiative to create the next generation of swine housing is needed to address the concerns of animal welfare, manure management, air emissions, odor, and public health. A number of the innovations that created the current generation of swine housing occurred in North Carolina (e.g. slatted floors). The ingenuity and will to innovate create a comparative advantage for North Carolina.”

In Oregon, SB694, would impose a maximum of one year's imprisonment or a $6,250 fine or both for confining pigs or calves in a stall that restricts the animals' ability to turn around freely in a complete circle without touching any side of an enclosure. Effectively banning both gestation and farrowing crates, the bill, if passed, would take effect in five years: http://tinyurl.com/2y7l2j. The New Hampshire House of Representatives rejected a bill requiring that cages used for egg production be large enough to allow poultry the ability to spread their wings. Another bill requiring that the state buy eggs only from producers who don’t confine hens in small cages was also killed: http://tinyurl.com/2apjvd.


FUTURE OF THE SWINE INDUSTRY IN NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina State University, Kelly Zering, March 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2mstt6

 

4. DAIRY PRODUCTION GUIDELINES; "UNHAPPY COWS"

Dairy Farmers of America has announced it will begin recognizing farms that meet its “Gold Standard” for milk-quality and animal-care guidelines. The association’s intent is to prevent customers like Wal-Mart from dictating standards: http://tinyurl.com/2gqf8h. In March, Horizon Organic published its “Standards of Care” guidelines for practices on its dairy farms. Among them are: raising calves from certified organic “mothers” to ensure generational organic herd integrity, and “ensuring that cows are outside year-round to exercise, socialize and interact with the land.” Horizon worked with third-party specialists to develop the standards, which are now said to be in effect on its farms in Idaho and Maryland. The company has been under fire from critics for its “factory farming” practices: http://tinyurl.com/29dalt.

In a detailed article subtitled “California's Most Unhappy Cows,” Jason Hribal tells of the history of commercial dairy production and the advent of dry-lot dairying. He considers “anthroarchy, or rule by humankind” and how “as much as this rule has been enforced, it has been contested by cows, pigs, horses, and even a few humans.” He additionally considers the history and use of the word "anthropomorphism." Hribal states: “The California Milk Advisory Board currently spends about $37 million per year on advertising for their ‘Happy Cow Campaign,’ noting that “this is the same group of people who publicly deny that cows have any emotions or intellect.” Considering that “60% of California's 1.5 million cows work on high-density feed-lots” Hribal declares: “no creature could ever be cheerful on a dry-lot. California's cows are most unhappy.” (See also “Cows, Colonialism, and Capitalism: Interview with David Nibert”: http://www.animalvoices.ca/node/261 )

HORIZON ORGANIC PUBLISHES ITS "STANDARDS OF CARE"
Dairy Herd (source: Horizon Organic press release), March 28, 2007
http://www.dairyherd.com/directories.asp?pgID=675&ed_id=6298

THE DAIRY INDUSTRY AND THE LABOR OF REPRODUCTION
Counterpunch, Jason Hribal, March 31/April 1, 2007
http://www.counterpunch.org/hribal03312007.html

 

5. RULING HALTS REMAINING U.S. HORSE SLAUGHTERPLANT

Finding that the agency did not follow required procedures, a federal appeals court has ruled against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to inspect horse slaughter at industry -rather than taxpayer- expense, halting operation of the nation’s last functioning horse slaughterplant. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed last year by six animal protection organizations (see: http://tinyurl.com/j75hb ). “In blatant disregard of congressional intent, the Agriculture Department devised a ‘fee-for-service’ scheme whereby the horsemeat industry, not taxpayers, would finance the inspections,” the Washington Times editorialized, “The matter went to court, and finally this week the U.S. District Court threw out USDA's attempt to get around Congress. The players in opposition included the cattle industry, which believed that free-range horses damaged grazing lands; foreign horseflesh producers and consumers; and of course regulators who stood to lose ‘business.’”

The Times editorial concludes: “Pending in Congress currently are two bills (H.R. 503 and S. 311 [the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA)]) to prohibit the transport of American horses across the border to Mexico for slaughter. These, too, should pass, or else we've simply averted our eyes without preventing the slaughter and abuse of the noble steed.” The remaining slaughterplant, located in Illinois, slaughtered about 1,000 horses a week. Rescue groups offered to place the 200 horses at the plant when the ruling came down but the plant instead sent the horses back to Colorado, Iowa, South Dakota and Tennessee. Ruth McLaughlin, information chairperson for the Muskingum County [Ohio] Farm Bureau, argues: “The average capacity of a horse adoption facility in the U.S. is 30 animals. This means in the first year alone, the U.S. would need an additional 2,700 such facilities, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners. It would cost $1,900 per year to house each unwanted and abandoned horse, not including veterinary or farrier services. It will cost $127 million to properly care for these animals if [the AHSPA] is enacted.” She warns: “The prohibition on processing equine will create a negative precedent for other animal protein segments such as beef, pork and poultry,”

The horse slaughter industry is considering appealing the recent ruling. In late March, shortly after the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) filed a notice of intent to sue the Illinois slaughterplant for dozens of violations of the federal Clean Water Act, an Illinois legislative committee approved legislation to ban horse slaughter by an 8-4 vote. The Congressional Act that cut federal funding for horse slaughter expires in September. Animal protection organizations are lobbying Congress to pass the AHSPA in order to bring the matter to an end. A timeline of the controversy over the last two years, along with a list of points about horse slaughter, has been posted on the HSUS site (see below).

FEDERAL COURT ORDERS USDA TO HALT INSPECTION OF HORSES FOR SLAUGHTER
The Humane Society of the United States, March 29, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2zbcvq

THE HORSE IS SAVED
The Washington Times, Editorial, March 30, 2007
http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20070329-084330-4770r.htm

HAPPY ENDING UNLIKELY FOR HORSES THAT ESCAPED DEKALB SLAUGHTER
Chicago Tribune, John Biemer, March 30, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/32u4dw

FARM: THE HORSE SLAUGHTER PREVENTION ACT
Zanesville Times Recorder, Ruth McLaughlin, March 26, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/36b6j7





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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.