Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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January 12 , 2007 -- Number 2, Volume 7

1. ACTIVISM COMMENTARIES

It isn’t that Americans don’t care as much about protecting farmed animals as do Europeans, it’s that the U.S. political system is driven more by money than democracy in comparison to the European one. This explains the differences in farmed animal legal protection between the two, contends philosopher Peter Singer in a commentary in The Guardian, a prominent London-based newspaper. In the U.S., some 90% of female pigs used for breeding purposes spend most of their lives in stalls measuring 2’x7’. Already outlawed in the U.K. and Sweden, such stalls will be banned throughout the European Union (E.U.) as of 2013. While no such national measures are in sight in the U.S., voters in Arizona and Florida passed a ban on the stalls by 62% and 55% respectively (see: http://tinyurl.com/ygchsa and http://tinyurl.com/r6ff ). Similar confinement of calves used for veal production has been banned in the E.U. since the first of this year. In the U.S. the calf stalls are banned only in Arizona, as a result of the aforementioned vote (see http://tinyurl.com/ygchsa ). Pointing out that Arizona and Florida are fairly conservative states, Singer asserts that Americans in general would support a ban on such intensive confinement. He concludes that in the U.S., “…agribusiness is able to put tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of congressional representatives seeking re-election. The animal welfare movement, despite broad public support, has been unable to compete in the arena of political lobbying and campaign donations.”

However, “[T]he animal-protection movement has amped up its political engagement in recent years,” states Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), in a Denver Post column. He spells out the political clout of the movement, and notes that “[I]n the last decade Americans have… pass[ed] 19 statewide measures…outlaw[ing] such abhorrent practices as cockfighting…horse slaughter…and confinement of animals in crates on factory farms. Few other causes have a record of such success…[d]espite the enormous financial advantages of animal-use industries and their trade groups.” Among the efforts in the upcoming congressional session will be “urg[ing] lawmakers to make staged animal fighting a federal felony” and “outlaw[ing] the slaughter of 100,000 healthy American horses as delicacies for foreign restaurants,” Pacelle promises.

“The major activist groups have more than $300 million in tax-exempt funds ready to attack animal agriculture. Funds continue to grow, and you can expect more action in 2007,” said Kay Johnson of the Animal Agriculture Alliance at the recent American Farm Bureau annual meeting. She noted that there are 25 states that allow ballot initiatives, and she expects California and Colorado will be the next ones in which activists attempt farmed animal initiatives. Johnson also pointed out that there are now 90 law schools that offer animal law courses, which she says is the fastest-growing program. “Why would [animal advocates] slow down?” she asks, “They are succeeding.”

“Rather than defending a status quo that most Americans consider indefensible, Iowa’s pork industry can assume a leadership role in the movement to end the most egregious factory farming practices by moving away from gestation crate confinement,” states Paul Shapiro, director of HSUS’s Factory Farming Campaign, in a Globe Gazette opinion piece. It’s still typical in Iowa, which leads the nation in pig production, for female pigs used for breeding purposes to be confined “in two-foot-wide gestation crates that are so restrictive they can’t even turn around for months on end.” Quoting farmed animal authority Dr. Temple Grandin (“Gestation crates for pigs are a real problem... Basically, you’re asking a sow to live in an airline seat ... I think it’s something that needs to be phased out.”) Shapiro points out that, in addition to animal scientists, “Prominent figures on both sides of the political aisle agree that the use of gestation crates is deplorable.”


TETHERED BY THE WALLET
The Guardian (U.K.), Peter Singer, Jan. 3, 2007
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1981590,00.html

ANIMAL PROTECTION A JUST CAUSE
Denver Post, Wayne Pacelle, Jan. 6, 2007
http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_4953112

ACTIVISTS ATTACK ANIMAL AGRICULTURE
American Farm Bureau, Jan. 7, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/ylw6ny

PORK INDUSTRY SHOULD PHASE OUT GESTATION CRATES
Globe Gazette, Opinion, Paul Shapiro, Jan. 10, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/uww6g


2. GROUP THREATENS LAWSUITS TO PROTECT BAY

PennFuture, a Pennsylvania environmental group, filed notice on January 8th of its intention to sue five Lancaster County pig and chicken "factory farms" as part of a campaign to keep manure pollution out of the Chesapeake Bay [the largest estuary in the U.S.]. The five are among up to 250 farmed animal operations in the state that have failed to get water pollution control permits required by federal and state laws (see also: http://tinyurl.com/y5lnt5 ). About 40% of the nitrogen pollution that causes low-oxygen "dead zones" in the bay comes from agricultural pollution, about half of which is from manure, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Baltimore Sun relates: “One of the farmers who received a legal notice, Gary Lefever of Marietta, Pa., stood yesterday over the bodies of two dead sows sprawled in the doorway of a huge metal shed holding 900 pigs. Pungent fumes wafted from a scum-covered, 50-yard-long pond of hog excrement, which rippled near a second building housing about 600 pigs. ‘It's definitely too much paperwork,’ said Lefever, 59, of the permitting requirements.” He and another recipient face possible fines for operating for almost 5 years without required permits. The other three recipients probably should have applied for water pollution permits under federal standards that went into effect last April. The permits require keeping fertilizer away from streams and allow state inspectors to examine waste lagoons to make sure they won't leak. If the five businesses apply for permits within 60 days, PennFuture will drop its threat to sue them and will instead contact the next ones on its list of 250 possible violators.


POLLUTION LAWSUITS THREATENED
The Baltimore Sun, Tom Pelton, January 9, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/schde


3. WINTER STORMS MAY CLAIM 40,000 COLORADO CATTLE

The third snowstorm in three weeks fell January 5th on southeast Colorado, where 3,500 to15,000 cattle are estimated to have died from exposure, dehydration, and hunger. A Dec. 28th blizzard followed a Dec. 20th storm, dumping 3 feet of snow and leaving snowdrifts up to 15-feet high, suffocating some animals and separating others from food and water. Prior to the storm, drought had left little grass for them to eat. The 130,000 cattle in area feedlots could fare worse than those on range, with many having come from warmer regions and not yet acclimating to the Colorado weather. However, surviving range cattle may yet succumb to fatal respiratory infections brought on by stress and dehydration. Windy conditions and the continuing cold are especially dangerous for newborn calves.

A National Guard airlift of seven helicopters and a plane operated for three days, dropping 70 to 80 tons of hay to stranded cattle. Guard soldiers continued assisting afterward with hay deliveries on the ground. A single cow can eat 25 to 30 pounds of hay each day, and in good conditions cattle can survive 5 to 10 days without food or water. Of the estimated 340,000 cattle in the seven counties hardest-hit by the storms, Colorado’s Agriculture Commissioner predicts at least 40,000 will die from them. A 1997 storm killed 30,000 farmed animals in the same region. An accurate count won't be possible until enough snow melts to allow access to pastures. Farmers have also reported losing thousands of pigs to collapsed building.

Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and New Mexico all requested federal aid due to winter conditions. Parts of Oklahoma and Texas have also been affected. Mike Fitzgerald with Nebraska Cattlemen said that the problem there wasn’t with stranded cattle but with conditions making it very difficult for producers to get to their cattle with feed and water. "One guy told me the (corn) stalks his cattle were on was like a frozen lake," Fitzgerald said. The cattle had a hard time standing up, the cattleman had a hard time standing up, and the ice made the stalks inaccessible to the cattle, he explained.

Disposal of the dead animals also poses problems (see: http://tinyurl.com/vpqr7 ). Discussions are planned to determine how the Colorado cattle industry can better prepare in the future so rescue efforts can be more timely and effective.


COLORADO CATTLE DIE BY THOUSANDS
Associated Press; Jon Sarche with Judith Kohler & Kim Nguyen, Jan. 10, 2007
http://www.theworldlink.com/articles/2007/01/09/news/news13010907.txt

THIRD STORM IN THREE WEEKS BRINGS MORE SNOW TO WINTER-WEARY COLORADO
The Associated Press, Jan. 5. 2007
http://www.usatoday.com/weather/stormcenter/2007-01-05-colorado-snowstorm_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA

HAY LIFT AIMS TO SAVE SNOWBOUND CATTLE
The Associated Press, Jan. 2, 2007
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16389942/

COLORADO BLIZZARD COULD TOP '97 STORM'S LIVESTOCK DEATH TOLL, STATE AG COMMISSIONER SAYS
Meating Place, Tom Johnston, Jan. 4, 2007
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/webNews/details.aspx?item=17093

STRANDED BY SNOW, CATTLE GET HELP FROM MILITARY
The Associated Press, Jan. 4, 2007
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16467237/

EXPERT: CATTLE FACE PROBLEMS BEYOND BLIZZARDS
The Pueblo Chieftain, Gayle Perez, January 11, 2007
http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1168502328/5

PLAINS BLIZZARDS HAMMER PRODUCERS
BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, Burt Rutherford, Jan. 5, 2007
http://enews.prismb2b.com/enews/beef/cowcalf_weekly/current#a070105

KANSAS REQUESTS U.S. BLIZZARD RELIEF; COLO. BRACES FOR MORE BAD WEATHER
Meating Place, Tom Johnston, Jan. 5, 2007
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/webNews/details.aspx?item=17100

COLORADO CATTLE DEATH COUNT LEVELS OFF, COSTS PILE UP AFTER BLIZZARD
Meating Place, Tom Johnston, Jan. 10, 2007
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/webNews/details.aspx?item=17137


4. FOREIGN DISASTERS

At least 30,000 sheep (and an untold numbers of cattle) perished from drowning or exposure when a “once-in-a-generation” storm struck the coastal town of Esperance, in western Australia, in early January. The region has been declared a natural disaster area, making government support available to farmers. In a 1999 event there, some 12,000 animals were killed.

Five hundred bulls imported from Australia died in isolation pens in Israel in late 2006, many apparently from respiratory diseases. According to the animal rights group Let Animals Live (LAL), most of the bulls died due to poor conditions in the pens and from serious injuries they suffered while being transported from truck to truck. LAL is demanding the end of all cattle imports from Australia.


WA SHEEP LOSSES REACH 30,000 AFTER STORM
Rural News, Jan. 9, 2007
http://www.abc.net.au:80/rural/news/content/2006/s1823719.htm

ESPERANCE DECLARED NATURAL DISASTER ZONE
WA Business News, January 9, 2007
http://www.wabusinessnews.com.au/en-story.php?/1/47579/Esperance-declared-natural-disaster-zone

BAD ODORS PROMPT JORDANIAN COMPLAINT
y net news, Meir Ochayon, Dec. 31, 2006
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3346759,00.html


5. UPCOMING EVENTS

PROACTIVE APPROACHES TO CONTROVERSIAL WELFARE AND ETHICAL CONCERNS IN POULTRY SCIENCE: Bioethics Symposium of the International Poultry Scientific Forum, Jan. 23rd. Sponsored by the USDA and the Southern Poultry Science Society, topics for the 3 & ½ hour symposium include: “Welfare as an Ethical Issue: Are Blind Chickens the Answer?”; “Ethical Issues Affecting Poultry, and Alternative Solutions”; and “Electric, Gas or Religious Slaughter Alternatives.”
See (pdf file): http://tinyurl.com/yhezcm
The forum will be conducted in conjunction with the 3-day International Poultry Expo which is to be held at the World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga.:
http://www.internationalpoultryexposition.com

6th ANNUAL COMPASSION FOR ANIMALS ACTION SYMPOSIUM
Presented by VegEvents, January 26 - 28 at the Regal Palms Resort in Davenport, Florida (around 30 miles SW of downtown Orlando). “Come to Orlando, raise your awareness of compassionate living and take it back to your community. You Can Make a Difference!” Among the presenters will be Lorri Bauston (Animal Acres), Karen Davis (United Poultry Concerns), George Eisman, RD (vegetarian nutrition), Michael Greger, M.D. (Humane Society of the U.S.), Dawn Moncrief (Farm Animal Reform Movement), and Paul Shapiro (HSUS). See: http://www.vegevents.net/events.htm

INADMISSIBLE COMPARISONS: United Poultry Concerns’ 7th Annual Conference,
co-hosted by the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and Lantern Books, to be held at the NYU Law School in New York City, March 24-25. “Inadmissible Comparisons asks: Can the Holocaust be compared with African American slavery or the Native American genocide? Can any of these experiences be related to those of animals on today’s factory farms?…This conference explores why such comparisons are offered and asks whether they should or should not be made. It examines the rhetoric and images of those comparisons and the agendas that might lie behind them, while interrogating the need for comparative thinking in the first place.” See: http://tinyurl.com/y2jvvx

FARM SANCTUARY’S 6TH ANNUAL FARM ANIMAL FORUM: Designed to raise awareness about current farmed animal issues and campaigns, this one-day conference offers educational opportunities for activists of all experience levels. Activities will include: presentations by noted animal protection speakers, activist training workshops and educational seminars, merchandise and literature exhibits, and hands-on activism and volunteer opportunities. To be held April 29th at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. See: http://farmsanctuary.org/farmanimalforum/2007/

 





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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.