Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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JUNE 20, 2008 -- Number 18, Volume 8

1. U.S. SUPREME COURT DECLINES HORSE SLAUGHTER CASE

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by the owners of the Cavel horse slaughterplant challenging the Illinois law that closed the plant last year (see: http://tinyurl.com/275wlg ). Cavel had attempted to overturn the ban at the district court and appellate court levels. “The only other route the company could take would be legislative, asking the Illinois General Assembly to rethink the law," said an attorney for Cavel. Although the plant could kill horses for pet food, there is said to be little demand from the pet food industry for horseflesh. The Supreme Court offered no comment on its June 16th decision.


HORSE SLAUGHTERHOUSE'S REOPENING UNLIKELY
Associated Press, Joseph Sjostrom, June 17, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5ztarj

 

2. HORSE SLAUGHTER IN CANADA

Horse slaughter in Canada has increased 75% since 2006, when it became illegal in the U.S. to kill horses for use as human food, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 35,000 U.S. horses were sent to Canada to be slaughtered in 2007, an increase of about 41% from 2006. However, the overall number of U.S. horses slaughtered in North America dropped by some 33,000 during that time (see 1st source: http://tinyurl.com/5nfdrp and chart on p.6 of PDF: http://tinyurl.com/5sgab6 ). Horses from the U.S. are sent to seven slaughterplants in Canada. The meat from them is sent to Europe and Asia for human consumption. Opponents are trying to shut down the industry with a Canadian version of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (see: http://tinyurl.com/yv59ay and http://tinyurl.com/sucqo ). Industry advocates and some horse groups argue that a ban could result in more horses being abandoned or abused (counter-argument at: http://tinyurl.com/65ar2q ). Additional background info is at: http://tinyurl.com/5sey3p.

Black Beauty Betrayed is the title of an investigative report by the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition (CHDC) that details concerns about transport and slaughter practices at Natural Valley Farms, a Saskatchewan slaughterplant. The Coalition released undercover video showing horses sliding and slipping in “kill pens” there, some of whom appear to not be stunned unconscious prior to having their throat slit: http://tinyurl.com/5owmz7 (The Canadian Food Inspection Agency allows for some 5% of slaughtered animals to resume consciousness during the slaughter process.) Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor of veterinary medicine at Tufts University and a founding member of Veterinarians for Equine Welfare, viewed the video and noted that the pens are designed for cattle, not horses. Also shown on the video is a worker repeatedly hitting a horse with a stick. According to CHDC, more than a dozen Canadian Food Inspection Agency violations are exhibited in the footage. A vet from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is stationed at the plant but doesn't appear to have done anything to stop the practices. CHDC suggests the problems are widespread in the industry.

On June 10th, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s news program, The National, broadcast an episode entitled “No Country for Horses,” examining the horse slaughter issue: http://tinyurl.com/6r99wp.


CBC PROBE RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT HORSE SLAUGHTERING
CBC News, June 11, 2008
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/10/horses-slaughter.html

U.S. HORSE SLAUGHTER EXPORTS TO MEXICO INCREASE 312%
American Veterinary Medical Association, R. Scott Nolan, January 15, 2008
http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/jan08/080115a.asp

GROUP CALLS FOR NATIONAL BAN ON HORSE SLAUGHTER
Canwest News Service/National Post, Jordana Huber, June 18, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/57nd4o

 

3. HOMES FOR HORSES

The Horse reports: “According to USDA data through 2006, about 70,000 horses per year were slaughtered in the U.S., 25,000 a year were shipped to Canada, and 7,500 a year were sent to Mexico (that number jumped to 40,000 last year). There are about 20,000 un-adopted feral horses and another 6,000-8,000 waiting to be adopted. It all adds up to about 100,000 unwanted horses in the U.S. each year.” However, see “Common Myths about Horse Slaughter”: http://tinyurl.com/5syz8g and see: http://tinyurl.com/5nfdrp.

On June 18th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Horse Council co-sponsored the Unwanted Horse Forum. “Horses are livestock, folks. Be careful of arguing that horses are pets, because you might get what you wish for. Pets are not tax deductible," cautioned horse-industry lobbyist Charles Stenholm (see: http://tinyurl.com/27grqk ). "(Slaughter) has been an acceptable practice in the U.S. since we became a country. Only recently has this become un-American. If we lose this one, it's over,” he further warned. The senior director of marketing for the American Quarter Horse Association outlined possible options, such as horse rescue and retirement facilities, and on June 17th the Animal Welfare Institute announced Project Wanted Horse: http://tinyurl.com/6q3ede.


USDA, HORSE COUNCIL HOLD UNWANTED HORSES FORUM
The Horse, Tom LaMarra, June 19, 2008
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=12111

AMERICAN HORSE COUNCIL AND USDA COLLABORATE ON UNWANTED HORSE ISSUE FORUM JUNE 18
EXtension, May 23, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5pdsra

 

4. MARYLAND STRENGTHENS HANDLING POLICIES

Maryland auction inspection policies have been strengthened as a result of abuse allegations by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) which also led James E. Horak, owner of Westminster Livestock Auction Market, to be charged with four counts of violating state animal health regulations (see: http://tinyurl.com/5rpph9 ). On April 22nd, workers and customers at the market used a chain and skid loader bucket to push and drag a conscious non-ambulatory cow about 45 feet, where she was left outside overnight. (A county animal control officer euthanized her the next morning.) Horak was charged with failing to provide humane treatment, failing to have the cow euthanized or cared for, leaving the distressed animal unattended, and failing to have the necessary equipment for humanely moving or euthanizing a non-ambulatory cow. Horak faced the possible suspension or revocation of his operator’s license and possible criminal charges. Instead, the auction has been put on probation for 9 months following Horak’s acknowledgement “that he should have had the animal shot rather than leaving it outside overnight.” Horak did not plead guilty to animal cruelty but has reportedly implemented a standard operating procedure for handling non-ambulatory animals and made appropriate equipment available.

The new state policies require market inspectors to report non-ambulatory animals, explain to a facility agent how to handle the animal, and check back the next day to determine if the orders were followed. Maryland is the first state to act of the four states, which HSUS claimed non-ambulatory animal mistreatment had occurred (see link above). Representatives from the organization are to meet with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials on June 26th to discuss the HSUS’s ongoing investigation of auctions and slaughterplants and the treatment of cattle.

MD. TIGHTENS LIVESTOCK INSPECTION RULES AFTER PROBE
The Associated Press, David Dishneau, May 29, 2008
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-livestockstry060529,0,5491366.story

AUCTION SETTLES CHARGES IN ANIMAL ABUSE CASE
Feedstuffs, Rod Smith, June 19, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6he9ak

 

5. FARM BILL FINALE

Despite President Bush vetoing the farm bill for a second time, the House and Senate passed it in excess of the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto. The text sent to him was largely the same as that sent in May (see: http://tinyurl.com/5ngt8r ). Farm Sanctuary explains: “The Farm Bill, which was the focus of animal agricultural industry lobbying groups, sets policy for the next five years on all aspects of agriculture—including farming, nutrition, conservation, and animal welfare.” Bush’s opposition to the bill included because it was "inconsistent" with U.S. "objectives in international trade negotiations, which include securing greater market access for American farmers and ranchers." He said he also rejected it because it "continues subsidies for the wealthy and increases farm bill spending by more than 20 billion dollars, while using budget gimmicks to hide much of the increase." (See also: Farm bill shows Washington at its worst: Congress Throws Taxpayer Money at Farmers Making Record Profits: http://tinyurl.com/5ogc7c ).

A $12 million subsidy that the bill contained for the veal industry was defeated despite aggressive lobbying by the industry, as was an amendment to keep products derived from cloned animals out of the human food supply. Many provisions of the FRESH Act (see: http://tinyurl.com/2xygyp ), which sought to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, were retained in the final bill, along with an upgrade of the federal law against animal fighting which increases penalties, bans possession or training of animals for fighting, and allows for prosecuting animal fighting crimes if there is evidence of interstate commerce. Increased subsidies for the dairy and salmon industries were also included in the bill, along with funding for research on fuels made from animal manure.

CONGRESS OVERRIDES PRESIDENT’S VETO TO PASS FARM BILL
Farm Sanctuary, June 2008 Update on the Farm Bill
http://www.farmsanctuary.org/issues/legislation/federal/farm_bill.html

US CONGRESS OVERRIDES BUSH VETO, APPROVES FARM BILL
Agence France-Presse, June 18, 2008
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iWH7xn4GJvhnkJcvW3E2AKvkG1-A

 

6. U.K. PIG INDUSTRY ADS AND EXPOSE'

Dead and dying pigs and piglets in dirty, crowded pens; illegal tail-docking; sows cramped in crates and a pile of 20 dead pigs were among the findings reportedly documented at ten farms across England that Animal Aid visited during March and April (see: http://tinyurl.com/6afukr ). The investigations were conducted in response to Pigs Are Worth It, a high-profile industry ad campaign which showed healthy pigs in straw-filled stalls or free-ranging in a field. A British Pig Executive (BPEX: http://www.bpex.org.uk ) spokesperson said that Animal Aid’s findings will be examined. Animal Aid is lodging formal complaints to the government’s Animal Health agency and calling for an official investigation.

PIG FARM CONDITIONS: CAMPAIGNERS CALL FOR AN INVESTIGATION
Telegraph News, June 18, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5vxmwz

 

7. HUMANE MYTH?

How should words pertaining to alternative farmed animal production, such as “welfare” and “humane,” be defined? Is alternative animal production sustainable? Is it a conflict of interest for an animal protection organization to promote alternative animal and meat production? Is the public being misled by alternative production claims? These are some of the questions raised on the new website: http://www.HumaneMyth.org. Sponsored by filmmakers James LaVeck and Jenny Stein (The Witness and Peaceable Kingdom), the site “offers provocative new testimony from former farmers, investigators, and animal rescuers who expose fallacies associated with animal product labels such as cage-free, sustainable, organic and certified humane.” The site also features critical analysis, slide shows, a media database and educational brochures.   

PUBLIC NOT BEING TOLD THE FULL TRUTH ABOUT HUMANE ANIMAL PRODUCTS
Humane Myth, June 19, 2008
http://www.humanemyth.org/news/1130.htm






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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.