CRIMES WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES
"The hog was lying in the cradle and all four feet had been removed. The hog was observed to be kicking and shaking its head. It exhibited skin twitching and irregular but rhythmic breathing with deep abdominal and thoracic movement. it appeared to be gasping for breath," wrote a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector about a still-conscious pig at a slaughterplant in Missouri. The passage is included in Crimes Without Consequences, a new report from the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) that analyzes enforcement of state, federal and foreign animal welfare laws at plants that slaughter cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens and turkeys.
Author Dena Jones said her research indicated poor record keeping, inadequate reporting of problems, and inconsistent enforcement by USDA inspectors. Jones found less than 2% of USDA inspection is devoted to monitoring live animals. Of 501 welfare-related noncompliance records issued between October 2002 and March 2004, more than half were due to failure to provide water and for inadequate or hazardous spaces for animals. About 10% were for mishandling non-ambulatory animals, mostly cattle; 13% involved faulty stunning, and 15% were for conscious animals on the bleed-out line (see chart at: http://tinyurl.com/37d3bq). Between 2002 and 2005, only 42 enforcement actions, beyond issuing deficiency reports, were taken. Actions by on-site inspectors were found to vary widely by district, with operations stopped for relatively minor offenses in some cases while no action was taken in cases with more serious violations. (See also “Inspection System Questioned”: http://tinyurl.com/2kp6sa)
AWI concludes: “…ensuring animals raised for food are handled and slaughtered in a humane manner is a low priority of U.S. agricultural enforcement agencies and of the U.S. animal agriculture industry." A USDA spokesperson said the agency has taken steps to better assess handling practices. The complete 142-page AWI report can be accessed at [note PDF]: http://tinyurl.com/35dskq.
THE TRUTH BEHIND HUMANE SLAUGHTER LAW
PRNewswire-USNewswire, March 25, 2008
RESEARCHER: COW ABUSE ISN'T RARE
The Press-Enterprise, Janet Zimmerman, March 25, 2008
BEEF RECALL CASE: CATTLE ABUSE WASN'T A RARE OCCURRENCE
USA Today, Julie Schmit, March 24, 2008
SENTENCING IN HALLMARK CASE
The two men criminally charged in the Hallmark case (see: http://tinyurl.com/2l8ehy ) have been sentenced. Rafael Sanchez Herrera pled guilty to three misdemeanor counts of illegally moving a non-ambulatory animal. Under a plea deal, he was sentenced to six months in jail, after which time he will be deported to Mexico. "The public sympathy wasn't going to be on his side," his lawyer said in regard to the three years in jail Herrera could have faced in a jury trial. His former supervisor, Daniel Ugarte Navarro, pleaded not guilty to five felony counts and three misdemeanor counts of animal abuse. His next court date is April 17th. He, too, could be offered a plea deal.
PLEA DEAL: SIX MONTHS IN JAIL FOR MAN CHARGED IN CHINO COW ABUSE CASE
The Press-Enterprise, John F. Berry, March 21, 2008
HOW RELIABLE ARE INDEPENDENT AUDITS?
Within days after the Hallmark video was shot (see: http://tinyurl.com/3y9qf9 ) but prior to its release, the company was audited by two independent firms and given high marks. HACCP Consulting Group reported it has a well-designed animal handling program. Silliker Inc (see: http://tinyurl.com/2pgok8 ) gave it 106 of a possible 110 points, with perfect scores for the condition of the cattle and how they were unloaded and treated in holding pens. Companies, such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, are increasingly relying on third-party inspections to assure the public. However, critics, such as Temple Grandin ( http://www.Grandin.com ) and Chris Waldrop of Consumer Federation of America, point out that companies have plenty of advance time to alert workers to the imminent presence of auditors and have them alter their practices. (Dena Jones (see item #1) had a similar comment about government inspectors, see: http://tinyurl.com/37d3bq ). According to the Hallmark undercover investigator, the company coached workers on handling practices the day before an audit.
INSPECTORS DIDN'T CATCH CATTLE ABUSE IN CALIFORNIA
The Des Moines Register, Philip Brasher, March 23, 2008
UEP AND AMERICAN HUMANE ANNOUNCE AUDITING AGREEMENT
During the late 1990’s, American Humane (AH) was involved in the development of United Egg Producers (UEP)’s production guidelines. UEP’s certification program is for eggs produced in cage systems or cage-free systems ( http://www.uepcertified.com ), while AH has a program for eggs produced in cage-free and free-range systems ( http://tinyurl.com/jo8ty ). UEP and AH have now announced a welfare auditing relationship. Under the agreement, an entity producing eggs under the UEP Certified guidelines that passes the AH Certified audit could market the eggs with both the UEP Certified logo and the AH Certified logo. UEP would not require an entity that passes the AH audit to undergo and pay for a UEP audit. See also: http://tinyurl.com/rnfku
UEP AND AHA ENTER WELFARE AUDITING RELATIONSHIP
Feedstuffs Foodlink, March 24, 2008
UNITED EGG PRODUCERS ANNOUNCE ANIMAL-WELFARE AUDITING RELATIONSHIP WITH AMERICAN HUMANE ASSOCIATION
PRNewswire, March 24, 2008
COK SUES UEP & ISE OVER LOGO USE
In February, Compassion Over Killing (COK) filed a lawsuit against United Egg Producers (see item #4) and ISE America (see: http://tinyurl.com/2jkzkg ) for continuing to use the “Animal Care Certified” logo on egg cartons. The logo was to stop being used by April 2006 per an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general in 16 states and the District of Columbia (see: http://tinyurl.com/36yu5z ). A logo stating “United Egg Producers Certified” was to instead be used, but COK said it found the original logo still being used in mid-February on cartons of ISE eggs on sale in the northeast U.S. The lawsuit charges that use of the logo violates the Consumer Fraud Act of New Jersey and amounts to common law fraud. (The suit was brought in New Jersey since the cartons stated the eggs had originated there.) COK also sent letters to the attorneys general of New York and New Jersey urging them to take action against UEP and ISE. Calling the lawsuit “frivolous,” ISE and UEP blamed the continued logo use on a printing error by a label supplier.
ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS SUES EGG PRODUCER
Forbes/Associated Press, February 20, 2008
LAWSUIT IS 'FRIVOLOUS, FALSE AND UNFOUNDED'
World Poultry, February 27, 2008
BALLOT INITIATIVES: CALIFORNIA STRATEGY, COLORADO BILL
Fighting efforts to ban caged egg production, such as the California ballot initiative (see: http://tinyurl.com/2ky6uk ), “could be one of the biggest and most important battles of U.S. egg industry history,” states Egg Industry magazine. Combating the California initiative was foremost in the discussion among the standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 at the recent meeting of the United Egg Producers (UEP) animal welfare committee. The committee chairman warned that California could be a wedge for other states. "[T]his is very serious,” concurred UEP head Gene Gregory, “We are in a battle to save our industry.”
UEP’s new board chairman cautioned that beating the California ban would be costly. Gregory said it is much easier for the industry to defeat legislation than it is to defeat a ballot measure. He added that UEP was prepared to offer funding and consultants to fight cage bans in states like California. A UEP board member said that virtual tours of modern egg production facilities are what is needed (to counter “horrible footage” on PETA’s website). The primary strategy of Californians for Sound Farm Animal Agriculture, a group formed to oppose the ballot measure, will be to “de-emotionalize” the issue through consumer education. Some 19 million hens are used for egg production in California.
Hoping to avert a planned ballot initiative, the Colorado Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously approved a bill to prohibit certain confinement of gestating pigs and calves raised for veal. [The full Senate subsequently passed the bill and it now goes to the House.] S.B. 201 would ban confining these animals in an enclosure that prevents them from being able to stand up, lie down, or turn around without touching the sides. Wayne Pacelle, head of The Humane Society of the U.S., said a petition drive for the initiative will be put on hold if the bill advances without being amended. Unlike the potential ballot measure, the bill does not regulate the caging of hens. In reference to that, Pacelle remarked: “We consider that a piece of unfinished business, but we will wait to see what happens with this (new regulation) first.”
See also: ALAMEDA TEACHER ASSISTS IN BID TO PROTECT ANIMALS
Contra Costa Times, Suzanne Bohan with Johyne' Taylor Hill, March 18, 2008
and: ANTI-CRUELTY MEASURE FOR NOVEMBER
California Farmer, March 21, 2008
STANDING-ROOM-ONLY AS UEP DEBATES HOW TO COUNTER ACTIVISTS
Egg Industry, Edward Clark, March 11, 2008
EXPENSIVE CAMPAIGN BREWING IN CALIFORNIA
Feedstuffs, March 8, 2008
LAWMAKERS MOVING ON BILL FOR PORK, VEAL ANIMALS
The Fort Morgan Times, K.C. Mason, March 18, 2008
YELLOWSTONE BISON SLAUGHTERED FOR RANCHERS
Starving bison, including calves, who wander out of snowy Yellowstone National Park in search of greener land are being captured and slaughtered. (Video at: http://tinyurl.com/2ogmal and slide show at: http://tinyurl.com/2xb73o ) Some 2,000 of them, about a quarter of the Park herd, have been killed by hunters or sent to slaughter this winter. It is the largest number of bison removed in more than a century. The animals are reportedly being killed because of fear that they might carry and transmit brucellosis to cattle. The disease can cause spontaneous abortion, and cattle detected with it are required to be killed. (Others claim the disease isn’t the real reason for the slaughter (see, for example: http://tinyurl.com/2wpnsh ). A vaccine for cattle is available which has been shown to not cause a false positive during antibody testing. See: http://tinyurl.com/2rnn7d and http://tinyurl.com/39wc6y )
In 2000, the state of Montana and federal agencies agreed on the Interagency Bison Management Plan. Under it, 7500 acres of public land adjacent to the Park would be leased for bison for 30 years, with cattle removed from it. The Montana Stockgrowers’ Association is in favor of the Plan, but it has yet to be acted on. The Plan would cost about $2.8 million. Montana and private entities have committed more than $1.3 million, but federal agencies are reneging on the $1.5 million they were to put toward it. Federal officials say Congress hasn’t allocated the money. According to environmental organizations, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) spends “over $1.5 million each year on hazing, capturing and slaughter of bison, quarantine research and other disease management programs” but is unwilling to commit funds to the Plan. “Our interest is having a brucellosis-free United States,” said Bruce Knight, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs for the USDA, “The sole remaining reservoir is in the Greater Yellowstone.” The USDA is interested in developing a vaccine for bison. Park officials say that could be years away.
The situation has been exacerbated by the detection of brucellosis in cattle elsewhere in Montana. Experts believe it was transmitted by elk rather than by bison, but ranchers are up in arms about it. If another case of brucellosis is declared in Montana, expensive testing will be required for any cattle exported from the state. The wholesale bison slaughter is expected to continue through April. Researchers and others warn that it could cause permanent genetic and behavioral harm to the unique herd. On March 26th, two women protesting the slaughter were jailed for suspicion of disorderly conduct and interfering with agency functions (see: http://tinyurl.com/2s4wq3 and http://tinyurl.com/34nxt4 ). Today, in an opinion editorial entitled WHY THE BUFFALO CAN’T ROME, the Chicago Tribune states: “So let Congress examine [the Bison Management Plan], make any needed improvements and get it working as soon as possible. Compared to the chronic resort to mass slaughter, this plan looks like a sensible, relatively economical way to protect the bison of Yellowstone and the cattle of Montana. Both groups of animals—and the American people—have waited too long to see this smart but unfunded compromise put into practice”: http://tinyurl.com/3d2a4v
ANGER OVER CULLING OF YELLOWSTONE’S BISON
The New York Times, Jim Robbins, March 23, 2008
CONSERVATIONIST: FEDERAL AGENCIES RENEG ON BISON PLAN
The Great Falls Tribune, March 19, 2008