EGG FARM EXPOSE' PROMPTS ACTION
"As he's stomping on her, she's reacting to him stomping by trying to struggle and keeps flapping her wings and there were manure pits below those individual cages that were filled up with water, so he kicks her underneath an egg belt and she drowns in the manure water," states an investigator with Mercy For Animals (MFA) in the narration of an undercover video said to have been filmed at Gemperle Enterprises. The California company supplies eggs to NuCal Foods, the West Coast’s largest egg distributor (see item #5). Shot during January and February, the video “shows workers kicking and stomping on chickens and snapping the necks of sick hens. It also shows birds left with untreated wounds and crowded into cages, sometimes amid rotting corpses,” explains the Los Angeles Times. One hen is shown still moving minutes after a manager swings her around by her neck in an attempt to break it: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/CAEggs/.
After the video aired, Trader Joe’s announced it will indefinitely ban eggs from Gemperle. (A 2006 investigation of the company by an independent activist also sparked action by Trader Joe’s: http://tinyurl.com/5h5xqj ) MFA has asked district attorneys in the two counties in which the Gemperle facilities are located to launch a criminal investigation and bring state cruelty charges against the workers. The expose¢ also comes amidst the drive for the California ballot initiative: the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (http://tinyurl.com/5qnytk ). Additionally, Home Box Office (HBO) is planning a special featuring the MFA activist: http://tinyurl.com/5khucs
"I'm in the business for 57 years, we have improved conditions for birds every year," said
“patriarch” Ernie Gemperle. Steve Gemperle, the second-generation owner of Gemperle Enterprises, questioned if the video was actually from his facilities, remarking: "What I saw on that video is not what our company does." They plan to meet with other producers to arrange a tour of egg farms. “Despite this film's controversial, provocative and political agenda, it is important for all of us to remember that the vast majority of eggs and other foods farmed in our state are raised in a humane, ethical and responsible manner to ensure food safety and public health for California families and consumers," stated Chris Myles with the Pacific Egg and Poultry Assn., which condemned the actions in the video. Myles noted that the Association standards are those set by United Egg Producers (see: http://tinyurl.com/5mg3us ).
LAWMAKERS REACT TO EGG FARM ABUSE
ABC7, Dan Noyes, May 06, 2008
ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUP USES UNDERCOVER VIDEO TO PUSH FOR PROBE OF POULTRY FIRM
The Los Angeles Times, Eric Bailey, May 6, 2008
TRADER JOE'S STOPS CARRYING EGGS FROM CALIFORNIA FARM WHERE VIDEO SHOWED MISTREATMENT OF CHICKENS
Mercury News (Associated Press), May 8, 2008
'CHICKENS ARE TREATED WELL,' FARMER RESPONDS
Farms Accused Of Animal Cruelty, Abuse
KCRA, May 6, 2008
NEGLECT OF NONAMBULATORY ANIMALS DOCUMENTED
On May 7th, The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) released video of non-ambulatory cows and a calf who allegedly were neglected at auctions in Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas: http://tinyurl.com/5axycc. According to the organization, having received a complaint that live cows were hanging from their legs by chains attached to a front-end loader at an auction site in Texas, HSUS investigators documented two non-ambulatory cows left for hours in the parking lot. The video also shows a non-ambulatory cow left outside all night at a Maryland auction site (see also: http://tinyurl.com/63umlm ), and an infant calf reportedly left to die at a Pennsylvania auction (see also: http://tinyurl.com/5egnew ). Two allegedly neglected non-ambulatory cows in New Mexico are also shown, one of whom “expelled watery feces into the pen where other cows were held for auction.”
“The problems are systemic, the laws and regulations are inadequate, and the industry's resolve insufficient,” said HSUS President Wayne Pacelle. In a May 2nd letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, he wrote: “…in the past three months alone HSUS has received detailed information from slaughterhouse employees, animal control officers, regional humane societies and other percipient witnesses reporting acts of egregious mishandling." HSUS contends that points such as auctions and stockyards also add to the potential for non-ambulatory animals to end up in the food supply. HSUS reps met with Schafer prior to releasing the video and asked that the USDA impose civil and criminal penalties for inhumane handling, close the “loophole” that allows some non-ambulatory cattle be slaughtered for human consumption (see: http://tinyurl.com/6486l3 and http://tinyurl.com/yoa5s7 ), and mandate immediate euthanasia of non-ambulatory animals. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) also wrote to Schafer requesting an industrywide investigation to assess the amount of animal cruelty occurring in it.
In response to the video, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said it has distributed over 2,000 cattle care and handling training videos to the country's 1,250 markets and other cattle sales locations, and that it is conducting hands-on staff training sessions at farmed animal markets. The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) said it is working on an animal handling assessment/certification program for market owners and employees. LMA criticized HSUS for recording the incidents without aiding the animals. Some others within the industry questioned the authenticity of the footage or referred to the cases as “isolated incidents.” See also http://tinyurl.com/64w4vr.
HUMANE SOCIETY RELEASES NEW VIDEO OF MISTREATED LIVESTOCK
Associated Press, Natasha T. Metzler with Betsy Blaney, May 7, 2008
EXPANDED UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION SHOWS MISTREATMENT OF DOWNER COWS IS COMMONPLACE AT LIVESTOCK AUCTIONS
The Humane Society of the United States, May 7, 2008
HSUS SHOOTS VIDEO OF DOWNED CATTLE AT AUCTION HOUSES
Meatingplace, Janie Gabbett, May 8, 2008
CATTLE UPDATE: LMA STATEMENT CONCERNING HSUS IMPROPER HANDLING ALLEGATIONS
Cattle Network, May 7, 2008
ANIMALS SEIZED FROM CALIFORNIA FEEDLOT/SLAUGHTERPLANT
Santa Cruz Animal Services supervisor Todd Stosuy was alerted to the situation at Toledo Harkins Slough Ranch, a feedlot/slaughter facility in California, when he noticed from the road a cow with blood squirting from her horn “as if an artery had ruptured.” Investigating further, he found a dozen ill and underweight goats with rotting hooves. He also found two rabbits and a sheep, all of who were malnourished. All 16 animals were removed. Two days later, on May 3rd, Stosuy seized eight more goats and another sheep whose health had by then deteriorated. “The owner… stated he wasn't aware that these animals needed to be treated humanely," Stosuy said. The condition of two of the goats was severe enough that euthanasia was considered. Some 118 chickens, cows, goats and sheep who did not appear ill or injured were left there.
Following an inspection, the facility remains open since the California Department of Food and Agriculture determined there was no food safety concern “based on the history there.” Local agriculture officials had been unaware of the business despite it having been in operation for at least five years. “Custom slaughterplants,” such as this one, kill and process animals for individuals. They are regulated by the state, but state inspectors do not examine the animals’ living conditions or what they are fed. Neglect issues are the purview of the county. About 50 of these facilities are said to be operating in California.
Cruelty charges were filed by Animal Services against owner Efrain Toledo, including for holding a non-ambulatory animal without water, food or veterinary care. The removed goats and sheep have been taken in by Animal Place and Farm Sanctuary to recover and then be put up for adoption. Toledo will have to pay for boarding costs and veterinary care.
INJURED, SICK ANIMALS REMOVED FROM WATSONVILLE SLAUGHTERHOUSE
The Mercury News, Jennifer Squires, May 2, 2008
STATE: WATSONVILLE SLAUGHTERHOUSE POSES NO PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT, PROBE INTO ANIMAL CARE ONGOING
Santa Cruz Sentinel, Jennifer Squires, May 2, 2008
ANIMALS CONFISCATED FROM SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIND REFUGE AT CALIFORNIA SANCTUARIES
Centre Daily Times, Natalie Bowman and Marji Beach, May 5, 2008
PETA PROPOSES COW MEMORIAL
"Millions of cows were bought and sold at South St. Paul stockyards with no more regard for their feelings than if they were made of tin," said Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The organization is urging a company that is planning to build a business park on the land recently vacated by the stockyard (see: http://tinyurl.com/5tn2ve ) place a memorial on it to “provide an opportunity for visitors to reflect upon the many animals who suffered there." PETA is proposing two designs. One features the silhouette of a cow made of bolts meant to symbolize the captive bolt method of killing cattle. The other is a silhouette of a cow's head against a bloody background: (images at: http://tinyurl.com/6dlmc6 ). Millions of goats, pigs and sheep were also auctioned away on the site. The Minnesota Beef Council said a tribute honoring stockyard and slaughterplant workers would be more appropriate.
PETA PUSHES FOR TRIBUTE TO HONOR COWS KILLED AT SOUTH ST. PAUL'S STOCKYARDS
Star Tribune, Kevin Giles, May 5, 2008
CALIFORNIA VIDEOMOBILE TOUR
“When people see a pig confined in a gestation crate, neurotically biting at the bars, unable to turn around, or take more than a step, it has a profound visceral effect on those viewing the cruelty. They know it’s inherently wrong and they want it to stop,” said Julie Janovsky, Farm Sanctuary’s director of campaigns. The organization is touring California with a truck equipped with 80-inch video screens on three sides to raise public awareness of “the cruelties inherent on factory farms.”
The effort is intended to help persuade voters to pass the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (http://tinyurl.com/5qnytk ) on the California ballot this November. Leading the opposition is the California egg industry, with an organization called Californians for Sound Farm Animal Agriculture. It warns that, if passed, the Act “would trigger unintended consequences which are likely to include increased farm costs, decreased in-state production and higher egg prices for California families…[and] significant environmental and food safety impacts." The group is largely funded by NuCal Foods (see item #1) and Norco Ranch: http://www.norcoeggs.com.
FARM ANIMAL CONFINEMENT BATTLE HEATS UP
Central Valley Business Times, April 24, 2008
OHIO VIRTUAL PIG PRODUCTION TOUR
The Ohio Pork Producers Council and the Ohio Soybean Council have teamed up to produce OhioPorkTour.com, with the goal of addressing “misperceptions about modern pork production." According to Meatingplace.com, “The videos give in-depth tours of the different facilities, but also cover hot topics such as animal care, the environment and social issues affecting pork production operations.” A video from a different farm will be featured each month, with an aim of having a dozen videos available by October. The site also answers frequently asked questions and provides links to other information resources.
WEB SITE OFFERS INSIDE LOOK AT OHIO PORK FARMS
Meatingplace, Lindsey Klingele, May 5, 2008