Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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MAY 2, 2008 -- Number 14, Volume 8

1. PEW REPORT ON INDUSTRIAL FARMED ANIMAL PRODUCTION

“The goal of this Commission is to sound the alarms that significant change is urgently needed in industrial farm animal production,” said John Carlin, Chairman of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (see: http://tinyurl.com/35vqno). The Commission released its 112-page report this week after examining the issues for 2 & ½ years. Large industrial farms "often pose unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and the animals themselves" while shifting rural economic power from farmers to processors, the report states. A Pew press release notes: “good animal welfare can no longer be assumed based only on the absence of disease or productivity outcomes.”

Among the report’s recommendations are that as soon as possible -and within a decade- battery cages, gestation crates, veal crates, force feeding for foie gras production and the docking of cows’ tails be phased out. It also recommends poultry be covered by the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, antibiotics be banned as growth stimulants, and regulations regarding animal transport and manure management be strengthened and enforced. (The report notes that, in the U.S., animals in confinement facilities produce three times as much manure as does the human population.) 

After industry representatives moved to prevent the Commission from accessing farms, it resorted to tours arranged by the Animal Agriculture Alliance: http://www.animalagalliance.org “We found significant influence by the industry at every turn: in academic research, agriculture policy development, governmental regulation, and enforcement,” the study reports. “[T]he agro-industrial complex -- an alliance of agricultural commodity groups, scientists at academic institutions who are paid by the industry, and their friends on Capitol Hill -- is a concern in animal food production in the 21st century," wrote the Commission’s executive director. The Commission recommends increasing public spending on research to avoid potential bias of industry-sponsored studies, and that universities disclose research sponsors. (Two-thirds of U.S. research and development money comes from industry and less than a third from the federal government, according to the National Science Foundation. In 1981, the funding levels were equal.) Industry groups counter that the Commission was slanted against them from the start.

The full report, which includes numerous photographs, can be found at (PDF): http://tinyurl.com/5oaao7  See also item #2.


PEW COMMISSION SAYS INDUSTRIAL SCALE FARM ANIMAL PRODUCTION POSES “UNACCEPTABLE” RISKS TO PUBLIC HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT
Pew Charitable Trusts press release, April 29, 2008
http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=38438

PANEL QUESTIONS FACTORY-LIKE FARMS
Associated Press, April 29, 2008
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-04-29-farms-panel_N.htm?csp=34

FARMING CRITICS FAULT INDUSTRY'S INFLUENCE
The Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Williamson, April 30, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5htdyf

REPORT: LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY NEEDS OVERHAUL
The Des Moines Register, Perry Beeman, April 29, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6xor7g

REPORT TARGETS COSTS OF FACTORY FARMING
The Washington Post, Rick Weiss, April 30, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5odc7j

 

2. UCS REPORT CONDEMNS CAFOS

“Although they comprise only about 5 percent of all U.S. animal operations, CAFOs now produce more than 50 percent of our food animals. They also produce about 65 percent of the manure from U.S. animal operations, or about 300 million tons per year – more than double the amount generated by this country’s entire human population,” states CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations, a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The organization explains that, rather than resulting from inevitable market forces, the estimated 9,900 U.S. CAFOs predominate largely due to misguided public policy that shift “billions of dollars in environmental, health and economic costs to taxpayers and communities.” For example, the report documents federal expenditures of $100 million annually to address pollution problems caused by CAFOs. These policies and the “enormous” costs CAFOs impose on society are analyzed.

Alternative animal production methods that can make meat and dairy products available at costs comparable to products resulting from CAFOs are presented in the report. In addition to steering tax money away from CAFOs, UCS recommends Congress enforce laws that encourage competition so alternative producers can market their products as easily as CAFOs do. Referring to the Pew report (see item #1), a UCS staffer comments: "When taken together, the two reports paint a grim picture of CAFOs and make strong, practical recommendations for new policies that can take us in a new, more efficient direction that will not fleece the American public." The full report and related materials can be accessed at: http://tinyurl.com/59nx29


CAFOS UNCOVERED
Union of Concerned Scientists
http://ucsusa.org/food_and_environment/sustainable_food/cafos-uncovered.html

CONFINED ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATIONS COST TAXPAYERS BILLIONS, NEW REPORT FINDS
Union of Concerned Scientists press release, April 24, 2008
http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/cafo-costs-report-0113.html

 

3. REVELATIONS OF HANDLING VIOLATIONS

Information obtained by the Associated Press (A.P.) through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that two of the four slaughterplants recently cited for humane handling violations  (see: http://tinyurl.com/5ess5w ) are owned by two of the largest U.S. beef companies. A National Beef Packing Company plant in Kansas was cited for overcrowded holding pens, and a Cargill plant in California was cited for excessive use of electrical prods. Additionally, a Dakota Premium Foods' plant in Minnesota was cited for excessive bunching in the stunning area and Martin's Abattoir and Wholesale Meats, in N.C., was cited for insufficient stunning. The first three received non-compliance records and the last one had operations temporarily suspended. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spokesperson the problems have since been remedied.

National Beef Co. president Tim Klein conceded there were 53 cattle in a pen designed for 49 but contended it was not harmful to them. An appeal by the company to have its noncompliance record rescinded was denied. Regarding the Cargill case, the A.P. reports:FSIS officials said that in reviewing 36 animals, virtually every one balked at entering the restrainer, and to keep them moving, an electric prod had to be used on 10 to coax them along. Three still refused, even after prodding, and had to be stunned and rendered unconscious ‘so that they could be pulled through the restrainer to be shackled, hung, and bled,’" the noncompliance record states.” After the A.P.’s inquiry, the USDA granted an appeal by Cargill, rescinding the record and issuing instead a “letter of concern.” Cargill spokesperson Mark Klein contended the balking was caused by the USDA audit. The USDA disputed that claim. Klein also said the electric prods had no batteries. Paul Shapiro with the Humane Society of the U.S. questioned that assertion, noting: "The point of using an electric prod instead of a stick is to shock the animals to force them to move under the threat of pain." Klein replied that unpowered prods can still be effective.

Of 6,200 federally inspected slaughter facilities, approximately 800 slaughter animals covered by the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. In 2007, the USDA issued 66 suspensions to facilities in the latter category, 18% of which were considered egregious humane handling violations. In late April, the USDA posted a new scenario regarding “double stunning” (see: http://tinyurl.com/5z8vc6 ). It is the first one in three years not posted for the purpose of public comment: http://www.aamp.com/news/FSISHIKE.asp.


2 BEEF PROCESSORS ARE CITED FOR HUMANE VIOLATIONS
The Associated Press, Frederic J. Frommer, April 30, 2008
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ib5V7z9A-ocCTOvoaRCq9Ohbl9SAD90C5R4O0

SCHOOL LUNCH SUPPLIERS COMPLYING AFTER HUMANE HANDLING AUDIT: USDA
Meatingplace, Tom Johnston, April 30, 2008
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/Content.asp?ContentID=217749

NATIONAL BEEF APPEALS ALLEGED HUMANE HANDLING VIOLATION
Meatingplace, Tom Johnston, May 1, 2008
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/Content.asp?ContentID=218115

 

4. SPOTLIGHT ON THE SCHEINS

Hannah and Philip Schein, investigators for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), are blowing their cover. Since 2002, Hannah and Philip have conducted some 20 undercover investigations in addition to overt ones. The couple specializes in kosher slaughter cases due to their background and knowledge of Jewish dietary laws (kashrut). Among them was the AgriProcessor case ( see: http://tinyurl.com/2qvpqn and: http://tinyurl.com/5bmjmy ). Last year the couple documented conditions at a purportedly kosher deer slaughterplant. They subsequently alleged that deer there were sat on to hold them down while their throats were slit. The owner denies the accusations.

According to Forward, a Jewish newspaper: “The Scheins maintain that they want only for kosher slaughter to live up to what they consider its original purpose: to minimize the suffering of the animals being killed. Orthodox Jewish standards of kashrut have ‘gotten so focused on the letter of the law that they’ve lost sight of the fact that [kashrut] is about reducing suffering,’ Hannah said. But according to Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of the Orthodox Union’s kashrut division, liberal Jews such as the Scheins are using the term ‘kosher’ as a ‘generic phrase’ to denote practices they consider morally acceptable, thus missing the ‘fundamental issue’ of kashrut: obedience to Jewish law.”

Forward further reports that the Scheins “decided to go public as part of a publicity bid for PETA.” The couple is not revealing their techniques, however, which they attribute to their success. They are currently working on reforming the ritual of kapparot, whereby ultra-Orthodox Jews swing a chicken overhead before killing the bird (see also: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/904943.html ).


KOSHER-KEEPING COUPLE GOES UNDERCOVER FOR PETA
Forward, Marissa Brostoff, April 30, 2008
http://www.forward.com/articles/13264/

 

5. DUTCH TRUMP EU HEN CAGE STANDARD

As of January 2009, “enriched” cages for laying hens will be banned in the Netherlands. The only form of caging that will be permitted there for the hens are those in the “small group system,” which the Dutch ministry said will allow hens to exercise natural behaviors. This sets a higher standard than that of the European Union (see item #6).

DUTCH DEMAND HIGHER STANDARDS THAN THE EU
World Poultry, April 25, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/58sj7d

 

6. EGGS IN THE U.K., THE INDEPENDENTíS DEMANDS

This year, for the first time, free-range eggs constituted the majority (51%) of retail egg sales in the U.K. However, only one in three eggs in the U.K. is from a free-range system. Nearly all processed and restaurant food containing egg is made with battery eggs, with 55% of all eggs coming from battery operations.

Noble Foods, the self-described "progressive face of the UK egg industry," supplies 70% of the U.K. egg market. Holsworthy Beacon Farm produces more than 100 million eggs a year for Noble. Conditions at Holsworthy are said to be representative of those at other battery egg facilities in England. In late April, The Independent, a popular British paper, accompanied Compassion in World Farming to the facility. There they found chickens “crammed five to a cage, stacked in rows from floor to ceiling” with “hens unable to spread their wings fully, nest, or exhibit other natural behaviour.”

The Independent stated: “The system of barren battery cages is so undesirable for animal welfare that the European Union banned it in 1999. After years of delays caused by industry lobbying, Britain will implement the ban in 2012, replacing barren cages with slightly larger ‘enriched’ cages with perches” (see: http://tinyurl.com/6fkvua ). It furthermore notes: “The EU has only just agreed a law that will set minimum standards for chickens reared for meat (broilers). That directive comes into effect in 2010, but will not be translated into national law for some time after that. Until then, Britain will remain one of the majority of EU countries that sets no maximum densities for chicken sheds, relying simply on the fact that if conditions are too horrible, the meat will be of unsaleable quality.”

The Independent asserts that Britain should legislate higher welfare standards than the rest of the E.U. (see item #5), noting that it already does so for pigs and for calves used for veal. It calls for minimum mandatory welfare standards, a tariff on imports from countries with lower standards, and improved labeling “without waiting for the excruciatingly slow EU processes – made even slower by expensive corporate lobbying.” Along with its recommendations, the paper published a list of demands for food companies dealing with eggs to meet. It concludes: “rich countries in Europe can readily afford the small extra cost of farming without cruelty.” See also: http://tinyurl.com/5z6lr3 and http://tinyurl.com/5ok8e9

HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS?
The Independent, Martin Hickman, April 27, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/59obdz

GOING TO WORK ON THE EGG
Independent, Op-ed, April 27,2008
http://tinyurl.com/6x7ogr

 





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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.