Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
[missing header image]
[missing header image] Subscribe to Farmed Animal Watch

August 24, 2007 -- Number 24, Volume 7

1. GRATUITOUS FARMED ANIMAL ASSAULTS ON THE RISE

"They just wanted to see what shooting cattle was like," Hickman County Sheriff Randal Ward said about two Tennessee teens who last year shot and killed 24 cows, many of them pregnant. In California, police are currently investigating the May killing of 15 goats, each shot in the face as they huddled in a portable pen. Residents had called in reports of the sound of "babies crying." On August 17th, an Arkansas teen was arrested for allegedly attempting to run down cattle. When a bull became stuck under the Ford Ranger, the teen, accompanied by two men, reportedly fatally stabbed him. Several cows were wounded and a pregnant one was euthanized. The previous week, nine cows were shot at a nearby farm, five fatally: http://tinyurl.com/2svr3r

These are just a few examples of an increasing number of animal cruelty cases being reported nationwide outside city limits (see also: http://tinyurl.com/2oolkr ). Authorities say cows, goats, horses and other farmed animals are being killed, often by angry, reckless youths. "Rural kids grow up with guns. They shoot squirrels and coyotes as predator control, so the idea of shooting a rifle from a vehicle is not abnormal," said a lawyer for one teen convicted of shooting horses. A former Fresno County assistant district attorney who prosecuted teen animal killers asserts they had too little adult supervision and too much access to guns. "You see something, you shoot it -- and then you drive down the road for a few more laughs," he said, "It's someone else's problem." Researchers are developing a personality profile of those who kill large animals (other than in the context of legal hunting). Studies suggest that youths who engage in such cruelty often commit violent criminal behavior as adults.

The gratuitous killing of farmed animals gets little attention in the U.S. Although 43 states have passed felony animal cruelty laws, they rarely apply to farmed animals “thanks in part to a strong cattleman's lobby -- as long as ranchers follow 'accepted husbandry practices,' " notes this Los Angeles Times article. "It speaks to a prejudice against certain animals, not based on a rational assessment of their ability to feel pain but on our intended use for them," states Farm Sanctuary President Gene Baur. Although some states do provide some legal protection for these animals, enforcement can vary and prosecutors often settle for convictions on “vandalism” charges. "Most places, you've got to go a long way to be considered cruel to livestock," said Robert Trimble, an attorney for the Texas Humane Legislation Network, "The industry is paranoid that somehow what they do in their routine animal husbandry could be called cruelty." According to investigators, society is beginning to take a tougher stance on such cruelty. Last autumn, Texas improved protections for farmed animals, creating a legal definition of what constitutes torture that includes inflicting "unjustifiable pain or suffering."


A BEASTLY KIND OF CRUELTY
The Los Angeles Times John M. Glionna, August 17, 2007
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cruelty17aug17,0,564550.story

CATTLE KILLING DRAWS NATIONAL IRE
Batesville Daily Guard, Tony McGuffey, August 23, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/25swul

 

2. FOIE GRAS PRODUCER NOT CHARGED DESPITE DOCUMENTATION

Crown Prosecutors in Quebec, Canada declined charging foie gras producer Elevages Perigord with animal cruelty despite video and other documentation brought to court’s attention last month (see: http://tinyurl.com/32mcwf ) by Farm Sanctuary and Global Action Network. "The failure to prosecute represents a break down in the enforcement system and does not speak to the legality or the morality of practices at Elevages Perigord," said Gene Baur, President of Farm Sanctuary.


PROSECUTORS FAIL TO CHARGE FOIE GRAS PRODUCER ELEVAGES PERIGORD DESPITE DOCUMENTATION OF SICKENING ABUSES
Canada NewsWire, August 23, 2007
http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/August2007/23/c9874.html
 

 

3. CHINA’S MYSTERY PIG DISEASE

The pig, little more than a skeleton, shivered in a corner, struggling for life. China’s pigs are falling victim to a mysterious disease that “[eats] away at their insides in a matter of weeks.” The government says some 165,000 pigs have contracted the virus this year. However, in a country with one of the world's most densely populated pig breeding areas, that loses 25 million of its 500 million pigs to disease each year, few believe the government figure. The affliction is thought to be an extremely lethal form of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS, a.k.a., “blue-ear pig disease,” see #9 of http://tinyurl.com/snhb ).

Animal virus experts accuse Chinese authorities of downplaying the gravity and spread of the quickly mutating disease, causing fear that a global pandemic could hit domestic pigs. China, said to be the 4th largest exporter of live and slaughtered pigs, is feared to already be exporting the virus. A similar one has been detected in neighboring Vietnam and Myanmar. The Chinese government and media are reporting that diseased or infected pigs are being sold to underground slaughterplants. Chinese officials insists that the disease is under control and that a vaccine has been developed and distributed. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is pressing China to share its research and tissue samples. China’s refusal to do so is causing suspicions that the disease may be a type that could harm China's export status.

A letter by Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the U.S., published in The New York Times, blames intensive confinement. “With this industrialization often comes overcrowding, inadequate ventilation and related physiological stress — factors implicated as heightening the risk of disease outbreaks,” he writes. Pacelle urges that diseased animals be euthanized rather than left to suffer. He cites a 2005 survey showing “that the Chinese are similar to Americans in their concern for animals” as a source of hope that “we can only expect future improvements in the welfare of farm animals” both here and there.


VIRUS SPREADING ALARM AND PIG DISEASE IN CHINA
The New York Times, David Barboza, August 16, 2007
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/16/business/16pigs.php

VARIABILITY SPURS WILD RIDE
National Hog Farmer's North American Preview, Steve R. Meyer, August 23, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/2oooue

CHINA’S DISEASED PIGS
The New York Times, Wayne Pacelle, August 22, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/22/opinion/lweb22pigs.html

 

4. ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT GENES MIGRATE TO GROUNDWATER

Tetracycline is a drug widely used in pig production to prevent or treat disease and to stimulate growth. Its near-continuous use promotes tetracycline-resistant bacteria in the animals’ digestive tracts and manure. Researchers at the University of Illinois report that some bacterial genes present in lagoons used to store most pig waste are transferred between bacterial species. The research team found that tetracycline-resistant genes migrate from lagoons into groundwater wells. This has broad environmental and health implications. “What we are seeing is that the genes can travel a lot further than the bacteria,” said principal investigator R.I. Mackie. “If the genes are there, potentially they can get into the right organism at the right time and confer resistance to an antibiotic that’s being used to treat disease,” he explains, noting: “It’s a relay race.”

Since the late 1990’s, new lagoons must be built with liners to prevent seepage. However, facilities operating prior to the law are allowed to continue using unlined lagoons, some of which leak. The roughly 238,000 animal feeding operations in the U.S. collectively generate about 500 million tons of manure per year. Groundwater makes up about 40% of the public water supply, and more than 97% of rural drinking water.

TEAM TRACKS ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE FROM SWINE FARMS TO GROUNDWATER
Science Daily, August 22, 2007
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070821153926.htm

 

5. FOOD & FAITH

Protecting the environment has become a religious issue during the past few years. Now food production is becoming one, including the treatment of farmed animals. Younger people in particular seem to be interested in these matters. “Food and the environment is the civil rights movement for people under the age of 40,” states a Presbyterian pastor. The concepts behind faith-based farming relate to the principles of a number of popular diet books that draw from the Bible. All of the authors profess a return to what they believe are biblical healthy eating habits and humane farmed animal treatment. The subject is also discussed in an article called “Farming Based on the Word of the God” on the Bible study website: http://tinyurl.com/2qeqyh. A Jewish perspective of ideas in the faith-based agriculture movement can be found on blogs such as the Jew & the Carrot: http://jcarrot.org. “The religious movement is a huge force,” said Arlin S. Wasserman, the founder of Changing Tastes, a consulting firm in St. Paul that advises food companies and philanthropic organizations on trends in food and agriculture. “Already, religious institutions oversee the production of $250 billion per year in food if you bundle together halal, kosher, and institutional buying,” he notes.

Scott Lively, founder of Dakota Beef, believed to be the largest vertically-integrated certified organic cattle slaughterer in the country ( http://tinyurl.com/2mkcr3 ), follows “the Maker’s diet.” He explains: “We take time to be sure the animal has been processed humanely. This is not only important for our humane handling standards, but it is also very much biblical in our minds.” The slaughterplant was designed with the help of Temple Grandin (http://www.grandin.com ), who suggested such changes as “nestling [animals] in a comfortable head-holder as Tal Ginter, the shohet, or kosher slaughterer, wields the knife that slices their jugular vein, rather than first stunning the animals, as is a common commercial practice.” Mr. Ginter explains: “It looks bloody, but according to the Bible and the Torah, you have to be mindful of the animal and let it die as fast as you can, to cause less pain.” He asserts: “It is not a horrible thing.”

OF CHURCH AND STEAK: FARMING FOR THE SOUL
The New York Times, Joan Nathan, August 22, 2007
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/22/travel/22eco.php

 

6. THE SOFT-SELL APPROACH

“When it comes to weaning people off meat, animal-rights activists are finding that the soft touch yields better results than clubbing people upside the head like seals,” states a Tucson (Arizona) Weekly article entitled The Vegan Crusade: Animal-Rights Activists Attempt to Get People to Abandon Meat with Smaller Steps and Subtlety. It notes that activists have welcomed incremental progress by working through all levels of government while engaging in fewer sensational tactics intended to cause immediate change. "The broad spectrum of advocacy is necessary, given that animals are so widely abused for food in this country, and that we have so much work to do until we reach a time when animals are no longer used for food," asserts Matt Ball, executive director of Tucson-based Vegan Outreach. He contends: "The main point is to try to have as much impact in the world as possible, instead of promoting one specific diet or one specific philosophy." Peggy Raisglid, owner of Lovin' Spoonfuls, a vegan restaurant, comments: "I've always thought that the soft sell--presenting people with the facts and letting them speak for themselves--was the way to go."

On a somewhat related note, see:
IN PRAISE OF MILD REFORMS
The Boston Globe, Opinion, Robert Mann, August 21, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/38hwh9

THE VEGAN CRUSADE
Tucson Weekly, Saxon Burns, August 16, 2007
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/gbase/Currents/Content?oid=oid:99284

 

7. ANIMAL WELFARE & INDUSTRY VIABILITY

"One of reasons the debate has become so heated between industry and animal welfare advocates is because our livestock systems and decisions have relied too much on performance and not enough on other indicators," states Joseph Stookey, professor of Applied Ethology at the University of Saskatchewan, as quoted by industry columnist Dan Murphy in the August 17th edition of his weekly Meat & Poultry piece. "You wouldn't find a successful business . . . that dismisses consumer sentiments as easily as our livestock industries have ignored attitudes towards animal welfare," Stookey asserts, "It’s no wonder why we have voter initiatives to demand changes to our livestock rearing systems. That’s the obvious outcome when concerns fall on deaf ears." He advises: “When industry fixes the ‘sore spots’ that trigger consumer concerns (and ballot measures), the result is greater support, improved sales and increased approval for the farmers, producers and processors involved.”

“Positive changes that impact animals’ well being should objectives unto themselves,” Murphy notes. He explains that “…industry’s search for systems that can deliver it all – high standards of care, optimal animal welfare economic efficiency – tends to obscure [that] bottom line.” Murphy discusses two “dilemmas plaguing producers in any discussion over how much and how far they ought to go toward changing production parameters,” including when pressured by outside interest groups. He concurs with John McGlone that: “Often, there are simply no economically viable alternatives to unwanted production practices’” (see: http://tinyurl.com/324hdf ). Murphy also contends: “The popular definition of ‘welfare’ may not be relevant to livestock production systems. That’s because consumers define "humane handling" almost exclusively in terms of freedom of movement and outdoor access…” He explains: “When you depend on the purchase, care and eventual sale of food animals to earn a living, ‘performance’ cannot be substituted for ‘welfare.’" Murphy concludes: “Animal welfare is…a steppingstone, not to eliminating the meat and poultry industry, but to ensuring its ultimate viability.”

THE REAL DEAL ON VEAL
Meat & Poultry, Dan Murphy, August 17, 2007
http://www.meatprocessingmedia.com/news/newsarchive.asp







In This Issue








Our Sponsors

The information in this news digest does not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors nor is anything in it meant as an endorsement by them.


Masthead

Compiled and edited by 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.