Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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January 26 , 2007 -- Number 3, Volume 7

1. LAW AGAINST HORSE SLAUGHTER UPHELD; SLAUGHTER BILLS

Slaughtering horses in Texas for human consumption is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled on January 19th. The decision overturns a lower court’s ruling last year on a 1949 state law that bans the sale or possession of horse meat. In upholding the Texas law, the Court of Appeals noted that, contrary to the lower court’s ruling, the law had not been repealed or preempted by federal law and several other states have also banned the commercial use of horse meat for human consumption. There are two horse slaughterplants in Texas and one in Illinois. The American Farm Bureau Federation said “This legislation mandates unprecedented government authority over the animal agricultural sector” in that it “ban[s] a livestock product for reasons other than food safety or public health.” The slaughter industry is deciding whether to appeal the recent ruling (see: http://tinyurl.com/36xe5k ).

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would ban horse slaughter nationally, was reintroduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate earlier this month. The House passed the Act last year (263-146) but it stalled in the Senate. A similar bill passed the Senate in 2005. See: http://tinyurl.com/j75hb

The Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act, H.R. 661, has 75 original co-sponsors in the U.S. House. A companion bill is being introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill is intended to help safeguard the food supply by banning the slaughter of animals who are too sick or injured to stand or walk. The House and Senate previously approved “downed animal” legislation, but some former members of the House Agriculture Committee and Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee blocked it from final passage. "I can't believe that in the 21st Century there is anyone who thinks it's appropriate to allow sick, diseased, or injured livestock incapable of supporting their own body weight to be part of our food supply," said Rep. Steven LaTourette (N.Y.), a co-sponsor. He also commented that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had banned the slaughter of nonambulatory cattle in 2004 (see: http://tinyurl.com/3hhyo) but the policy was never finalized or fully enforced.


COURT RULES HORSE KILLING TO BE ILLEGAL IN TEXAS
The Journal Gazette, Jan. 21, 2007
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/news/nation/16513278.htm

FEDERAL APPEALS COURT DECLARES HORSE SLAUGHTER IN TEXAS ILLEGAL
The Humane Society of the U.S. press release, January 20, 2007
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/070120/nysa011.html?.v=69

LATOURETTE CO-INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO BAN SLAUGHTER OF DOWNED ANIMALS
The News-Herald, John Arthur Hutchison, Jan. 26, 2007
http://tinyurl.com/39utbu


2. SMITHFIELD PHASING OUT GESTATION STALLS

Responding to customers, such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, and pressured for years by PETA and others, Smithfield Foods Inc. announced that it will phase out gestation stalls over the next decade. Farms that it contracts with will be required to phase them out by 2027. Smithfield is the U.S.’s largest producer of pigs, and the country’s first major pig producer to initiate a change to group pens. Having researched the matter, the company concluded that stalls and pens are equally productive. The time frame was give because “Group housing does present some challenges, and we don't have all the answers at this time," a spokesperson said: He added that the phase-out period will also probably prevent prices from being greatly affected.

The National Pork Producers Council considers gestation stalls to be “appropriate,” and said Smithfield’s decision does not change its policy on them. Feedstuffs’ Foodlink, an industry e-newsletter, said: “It is anticipated that the action by Smithfield will provide animal activists with ammunition to go after additional legislative and court initiatives banning crates for sows as well as cages for poultry” (see: http://tinyurl.com/2gxxak). The Humane Society of the U.S. has posted a page about the announcement, with a brief video including pigs in gestation crates, at: http://tinyurl.com/38hnja.


SMITHFIELD FOODS TO PHASE OUT GESTATION STALLS FOR PIGS
Associated Press, Sonja Barisic, Jan. 25, 2007
http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/business/16545015.htm


3. MORE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST CORCPORK

A lawsuit alleging animal cruelty has been filed against CorcPork Inc., a pig production company, by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, East Bay Animal Advocates, and three California residents. Clougherty Packing Co., the state’s largest pig slaughterer and a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp., is also a defendant. The suit accuses the company brand, Farmer John, of fraudulent business practices in misleading consumers with ads that say the pigs were raised in "a family tradition since 1931." The 13-page complaint spells out the intensive practices the company employs. The plaintiffs are seeking a court order to change the way the pigs are treated. A spokesperson for Clougherty Packing said: “[H]ere in California, voters clearly said in approving Prop. 64 that they are opposed to this sort of shakedown litigation." Proposition 64 is a state law limiting private enforcement of laws against unfair business practices.

On January 17th, Farm Sanctuary argued for legal standing in its lawsuit against Corcpork (see http://tinyurl.com/fr87m). The organization cited an earlier ruling that recognized the need for advocacy organizations to be able to speak on behalf of nonhuman animals. See: http://tinyurl.com/2xq488


BIG PORK PRODUCERS ACCUSED OF CRUELTY TO SOWS
San Francisco Chronicle, Jim Doyle, January 19, 2007
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/01/19/BAGE2NLH051.DTL


4. CHARGES FILED IN PIG FARM TORTURE CASE

Ten counts of animal cruelty have been filed against owners and an employee of a Creston, Ohio pig farm (see: http://tinyurl.com/22ncoh). If convicted, each faces up to 90 days in jail on each misdemeanor charge. The Humane Farming Association (HFA) bought full-page ads in area newspapers to publicize the matter. HFA Director Bradley Miller said: “[W]e believe there finally should be jail time for animal abuse and cruelty of suffering in Ohio. Right now it is just a misdemeanor, but in many states, it would warrant a felony charge.'' Special prosecutor Frank Forchione said he wanted to be a voice for the animals after viewing a videotape of pigs being hung prior to being killed (see: http://tinyurl.com/2a6g4a). He is considering requesting that the case be moved to another county. The farm's attorney, Russell Buzzelli, asserts his clients are innocent. A January 30th court date has been set.


PIG FARM EMPLOYEE, OWNERS CHARGED
Beacon Journal, Bill Lilley, Jan. 17, 2007
http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/16478501.htm

CHARGES FILED OVER ALLEGED ABUSE OF PIGS
The Repository, Shane Hoover, January 17, 2007
http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?ID=330602&Category=9


5. HUNDREDS OF SHEEP FOUND DEAD

Craig County, Oklahoma authorities have seized 1,250 adult Barbados sheep, 30 of their lambs, 300 cattle, 12 horses and a dog from the properties of 46-year-old David Bradley Bell after about 400 dead sheep were found there. Acting on a tip, sheriff's investigators had been investigating Bell's properties for about a month. Tulsa World reports of a search on Jan. 17th : “Carcasses were found strewn about the pasture, but the most dramatic discoveries came in a barn and on a house porch near the front of the property. Inside the barn, dozens of dead or dying animals were piled atop each other, some lying several deep in a feeder pen. The scene reminded some investigators of an animal version of concentration camp photos.” (The sources below include a slideshow.)

No feed or water was found there, and the animals are believed to have died from starvation rather than exposure. Bell reportedly told authorities that he could not afford to keep feeding the sheep. Jailed on complaints of animal cruelty, improper disposal of a carcass and other counts, he is free on $5,000 bail. Another individual person might be arrested this week in connection with the case. Bell’s attorney insists that his client had fed and cared for the sheep. Bell is said to have been investigated last year on reports of neglected cattle. The surviving animals were taken to another farm where they are being fed and vaccinated. Donations are being accepted to help care for them.

SCORES OF SHEEP FOUND STARVED TO DEATH; FLOCK'S OWNER ARRESTED
Tulsa World, Rod Walton, Jan 18, 2007
http://www.tulsaworld.com/NewsStory.asp?ID=070118_Ne_A1_Score27563#

ANIMALS TAKEN FROM RANCHER IN SHEEP CASE
Tulsa World, Rod Walton, Jan. 23, 2007
http://www.tulsaworld.com/NewsStory.asp?ID=070123_Ne_A1_Anima27014


6. PIGS STRANDED BY SNOWSTORMS; CALVES DYING

Thousands of pigs were stranded by recent snowstorms in southeastern Colorado (see http://tinyurl.com/2qlx2t). Code III Associates, a private disaster response program that deals with animal issues, led rescue efforts at Butte Farm (6,000 pigs) and Pioneer Pork (2,500 pigs). At Pioneer, a free-range farm participating in American Humane’s “Free Farmed” program, pigs housed in small sheds across the 2,000-acre property were unable to access food or water. Many were pregnant and near delivery. At least 1,000 piglets were orphaned or abandoned, and 50 or 60 animals were euthanized due to dehydration and/or injury. An estimated 10-15% of the animals at the two farms died.

Calving season in the Plains states is expected to be the hardest and costliest it has been in at least a decade. It has just begun on most cattle ranches there and will peak in late February and early March. The New York Times profiled one newborn calf: “…falling from the womb in the dead of this particular winter — steaming on the frozen ground, its body illuminated by a circle of headlights…” Her “small size — about 50 pounds, compared with 80 or 85 pounds on average — and its early delivery, about a month before the veterinarian had predicted, probably reflected the impact of the mother’s near-starvation” brought about “by successive blizzards and brutal cold over the last month.” The featured ranch has lost about one of every six calves so far, more than three times its usual death rate. The profiled calf “No. 207 would take its place in the dead pile, the grim place in the barn on the Butler ranch where many of the 25 or so calves already lost this winter lay frozen and twisted.” The article includes a slideshow.

The rancher, Dale Butler, commented: “You’re at the mercy of forces and doing everything you can to save them.” However, a 1997 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study reports: “The number one cause of death loss in calves in 1996 was adverse weather [20.2%]. One option to minimize weather losses is to change the calving season to a time when the possibility of severe weather is decreased.” According to a USDA paper: “Historically, producers have attempted to increase profitability with earlier calving dates and accelerated feeding and supplementation programs, thereby increasing weaning weights. This manipulation tends to increase the stress on the cow herd as well as production costs. Calving in late winter/early spring has eliminated the synchronization of the cow production cycle and the natural nutrient availability cycle of the forage…One solution to help reduce inputs is to calve later in the spring, to coincide with the growth and availability of green, lush, spring forage. This adjustment should help producers optimize the use of their static land and forage base resource, reduce the impact of environmental stress, labor and supplementation needs for their cattle herd.”

GROUP RESCUES 7,500 PIGS
The Daily Times-Call, Douglas Crowl, Jan. 14, 2007
http://www.longmontfyi.com/region-story.asp?ID=14073

VOLUNTEERS HELP SAVE 8,000 PIGS FROM SNOW
The Denver Channel, January 11, 2007
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/10727209/detail.html

ON SNOWBOUND PLAINS, GRIM FIGHT TO SAVE CALVES
The New York Times, Kirk Johnson, January 24, 2007
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/98115/On_Snowbound_Plains_Grim_Fight_to_Save_Calves

CALVING MANAGEMENT IN BEEF COW-CALF HERDS
My Cattle, Health Report
http://www.mycattle.com/health/reports/management.cfm

SUSTAINABLE RANGELAND BASED BEEF CATTLE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
G.A. Younglove, T.M. Youngberg, J.W. Waggoner, R.H. Hart and M.A. Smith.
http://tinyurl.com/2xbbj5


7. BILLS SEEK DISASTER ASSISTANCE

So far President Bush has issued disaster declarations for Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas were also affected by the snowstorms. Bills for the provision of federal aid to farmers and ranchers affected by disasters have recently been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Among them is the Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2007, which would provide monetary assistance for losses caused by the recent blizzards (see: http://tinyurl.com/2qlx2t) and by drought in 2005 and 2006. It would provide $4.4 billion in emergency funding for weather-related crop shortfalls, quality losses, and damage to farmed animal feed.
Another bill seeks to reauthorize the Livestock Compensation Program and provide aid for the recent blizzards. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House. The proposed aid is independent of the Disaster Declaration programs currently being implemented by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year, the Emergency Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2006 was unanimously included into the $96B Iraq/Afghanistan/hurricane relief emergency supplemental appropriations bill, which passed the Senate but didn’t make it out of the House-Senate conference.

DISASTER AID LEGISLATION INTRODUCED
BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, Burt Rutherford, January 19, 2007
http://enews.prismb2b.com/enews/beef/cowcalf_weekly/current#a070119_1

 





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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.