Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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JULY 4, 2008 -- Number 19, Volume 8

1. FLOODING IN U.S. MIDWEST

Since mid-May, storms and severe weather in the Midwestern U.S. have killed at least 24 people, flooded more than 3.4 million acres of land and caused an estimated $6 billion of damage to crops. Flooding prompted President Bush to declare more than 103 counties in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri disaster areas, making them eligible for federal assistance. This includes 70 of Iowa’s 99 counties. By mid-June, 16% of the state's 25 million acres of farmland lay underwater (photos and info at: http://www.iowaflood.com ). Iowa leads the U.S. in the production of pigs, eggs and corn, and ranks second in soybeans (see PDF: http://tinyurl.com/56znnh ).


MIDWEST RAINS CAUSE HIGHER CRESTS, MAY SPARK FLOODS
Bloomberg, Brian K. Sullivan, June 26, 2008
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aPUDCksLsfy8&refer=us

MORE RAINS HIT FLOODED US MIDWEST; CORN AT RECORD
Reuters, Ryan Schlader, June 26, 2008
http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN26270699

NOW 70 IOWA COUNTIES INCLUDED IN FEDERAL DISASTER
KCRG (source: FEMA and Iowa Homeland Security), Becky Ogann, June 23, 2008
http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/20659339.html

AFTER THE DELUGE
Grist, Tom Philpott, June 16, 2008
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/6/16/161928/494

 

2. PIGS ABANDONED, DROWNED, SHOT; PHOTOS

There are no readily available estimates as to the number of farmed animals who have drowned or been displaced by the flooding in the U.S. Midwest (see item #1). In the 2nd week of June, the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) asked pig farmers to help identify empty buildings that could possibly be used for relocating pigs, reports the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey encouraged farmers to plan ahead: “Flood water, washed out bridges and damaged roads may make it difficult to reach some areas with livestock, so I encourage folks to monitor reports so they aren’t caught off guard.”

“Iowa Farmer Makes a Sorrowful Choice” reads a Chicago Tribune headline. During the 2nd week of June, TriOak Foods removed 4,500 pigs it had in the feeding sheds at Ron Lanz's farm in Oakville. As the Iowa River rose a foot a day and estimates of its cresting continued to rise, Lanz moved farm equipment to higher ground yet gave no serious consideration to moving the pigs under his care. Finally, on the 14th, he and his partner cousins decided to move them. In six hours they loaded some 4,000 pigs on semi-trailer trucks and moved them out. They themselves then fled, abandoning some 850 other pigs including those on a half-filled truck. Returning the next day, Lanz found the pigs still alive and “opened the shed doors, giving the animals a chance of swimming to safety—despite the treacherous currents and the general unfitness of swine for swimming.” On Monday, he found the 30 or so pigs who had survived. "They're not like pets or anything," Lanz commented, "But they're something we're responsible for. And this work is something we hope our boys would want to do one day."

In Des Moines County, some dozen pigs “escaped their flooded farm, swam through raging floodwaters and scrambled atop a sandbag levee” which was several miles from the nearest pig farm. Soon after, sheriff’s officials shot and killed them, explaining that they were afraid the pigs would weaken the levee. "It happens every day. My gosh, that's what slaughterhouses do — that's how we get bacon and pork chops," said LeRoy Lippert, chairman of the county emergency management commission. "It's just one of the casualties of the flooding situation." Witnesses said the animals were having difficulty trying to find their way off of the sandbags and that they hurried back into the water when people approached. Lippert noted that out of some 36,000 pigs in the Oakville area, officials estimate a thousand or so were left behind as the flood passed through. Photos of pigs caught in the flooding are posted at: http://tinyurl.com/5g4m7c. See also: AMID THE FLOODING, A PIG RESCUE EFFORT: http://tinyurl.com/5gu6oh


FLOODING, STORMS CREATE CHALLENGES FOR LIVESTOCK FARMERS
Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers, June 12, 2008
http://www.supportiowasfarmers.org/fullarticle.aspx?artid=2100

IOWA FARMER MAKES A SORROWFUL CHOICE
Chicago Tribune, David Greising, June 18, 2008
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-hog-farmersjun18,0,806362.story

PIGS WHO SWAM THROUGH FLOODWATERS KILLED ON LEVEE
Associated Press, Allen G. Breed with Amy Lorentzen, June 18, 2008
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080618/ap_on_re_us/midwest_floods_shot_pigs

 

3. MANURE MESS; DEAD ZONE

A single animal waste lagoon can hold up to 25 million gallons of excrement. Rainwater has led some Iowa lagoons to leak and overflow (see item #1). Some have caved in due to pressure from groundwater. State officials have told farmers they can lower lagoon levels by spraying waste on fields even though the ground is saturated with rain, which increases the chances of waste entering waterways. Manure from confinement operations and open feedlots has already run into streams, yards and crop fields.

Nitrogen in the form of fertilizer is washing its way down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico where it will add to the “dead zone” there (see item #8 of http://tinyurl.com/5wa9jh and http://tinyurl.com/5zauys ). Bryan Walsh explains in Time magazine: “Just as fertilizer speeds the growth of plants on land, the chemicals enhance the rapid development of algae in the water. When the algae die and decompose, the process sucks all the oxygen out of the surrounding waters, leading to a hypoxic event — better known as a ‘dead zone.’ The water becomes as barren as the surface of the moon. What sea life that can flee the zone does so; what can't, dies.” A 2004 United Nations report documented nearly 150 dead zones, the one in the Gulf of Mexico being the worst.

See also the New York Times editorial: IOWA’S DISASTERS: http://tinyurl.com/5oak4l and see: EASTERN N.C. RESIDENTS SAY THEY'RE SICK OF SMELLING SWINE: http://tinyurl.com/57w259.


OFFICIALS WORRY ABOUT COLLAPSE OF ANIMAL-WASTE LAGOONS AT FACTORY FARMS
The Kansas City Star, Karen Dillon, June 28, 2008
http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/682889.html

SEWAGE, CHEMICALS, FUEL CONTAMINATE WATERWAYS
Des Moines Register, Perry Beeman, June 17, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5gt622
or
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080617/NEWS/806170377/-1/NEWS04

THE GULF'S GROWING 'DEAD ZONE'
Time, Bryan Walsh, June 17, 2008
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1815305,00.html

 

4. HSUS EXPOSES MORE CATTLE ABUSE

A calf kicked repeatedly in the head, a blind cow shocked and struck, a non-ambulatory cow forced to crawl on her knees and repeatedly shocked, another dragged by a chain. These are among the abuses reported by an investigator with the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) working at the Portales Livestock Auction in New Mexico (video at: http://tinyurl.com/55hd3h ). Workers there were trying to get the animals to stand and walk into the auction ring.

New Mexico brand inspectors were present at the Portales auctions and are believed to have seen the abuse. This is the second video released by HSUS of the facility (see: http://tinyurl.com/5rpph9 ) and the sixth such facility exposed by the organization this year, “further chipping away at the industry’s contention that such incidents are isolated,” states BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly. "No longer can anyone in government or industry reasonably claim that the abuses we documented at Hallmark [see: http://tinyurl.com/68w6lp ] were an aberration or an isolated case," said HSUS head Wayne Pacelle. All of the cattle in the latest video are from dairies, and Pacelle expressed surprise that the beef industry hasn’t pressured the dairy industry to stop its problematic practices.

Some of the cows videotaped at Hallmark (see item #6) came from the Portales Auction. HSUS explains: “many cows sold at Portales are slaughtered by Caviness Beef Packers in Hereford, Texas, and further processed at Caviness' Palo Duro plant…Palo Duro is the top supplier of ground beef to the National School Lunch Program.” (See also SLEAZY ASSOCIATION: http://tinyurl.com/6rrt9w )

HSUS has renewed its calls for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately implement a complete ban on the processing of non-ambulatory cattle for food. HSUS is also calling for the USDA to ban these cattle from other points, such as auctions, stockyards and transport, and for it to require that facility operators euthanize cattle immediately after they are found to be non-ambulatory (see: http://tinyurl.com/5rpph9 ). U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer met with HSUS on June 24th and reiterated his request for the slaughter industry to voluntarily abide by such a ban until a federal rule is finalized (see: http://tinyurl.com/6qpj8e ). Schafer emphasized that the abused cattle could not have entered the food supply.

See also: A MEETING OF MINDS ON THE WELFARE OF BEEF CATTLE
http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/jul08/080715a_pf.asp

THE HSUS EXPOSES MORE APPALLING ABUSES OF DAIRY COWS AT LIVESTOCK AUCTION IN NEW UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION
The Humane Society of the U.S., June 25, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6242fv
or
http://www.hsus.org/farm/news/ournews/dairy_cow_abuses_new_mexico_auction_062508.html

HSUS KEEPS FOCUS ON SPENT DAIRY COWS
Feedstuffs, Sally Schuff, June 30, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5hmcu6

HSUS VIDEOS ENGENDER VARIED EMOTIONS
BEEF, Troy Marshall, June 27, 2008
http://beefmagazine.com/cowcalfweekly/hsus-videos-engender-varied-emotions/

SECRETARY SCHAFER CALLS ON BEEF INDUSTRY TO VOLUNTARILY ADHERE TO NON-AMBULATORY CATTLE BAN WHILE FINAL RULE IS BEING PROCESSED
United Stated Department of Agriculture Release No. 0167.08, June 25, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5e4c6j

 

5. ON TOURING ANIMAL FACILITIES

Robert Martin, executive director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, related the following about farmed animal facilities he toured to prepare the report “Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America” (see: http://tinyurl.com/658l4m ): “We had a pretty diverse group—some animal agriculture specialists, ethicists, veterinarians, public policy members. When we were shown what were supposedly the ‘Cadillac’ operations, people were pretty shocked. We saw a swine facility that used both gestation crates and a pen system. And we saw how aggressive the hogs acted in the gestation crates—they were vocal, and charged people walking by and gnawed on the bars. There was a liquid waste management system flushing out under the barn, and you could smell the ammonia. Then we saw the pen system—there were 10 to 12 sows in each pen. They had concrete floors, but there was straw bedding, and it was more natural-seeming. There, the sows were almost docile. The most appalling thing we witnessed was a broiler facility that produces chickens for eating. We went in and it was totally dark, just three to four dim lightbulbs. They only vented the facility periodically and the dust and ammonia smells were overwhelming.” Martin added: “The agriculture industry here has been really good at thwarting consumer information.” He advises: “The primary thing that has to be phased out is the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.”

The interview appears in the July/August issue of E, “The Environmental Magazine,” which takes an in-depth look at animal agriculture, including a cover story entitled THE MEAT OF THE MATTER, an article entitled: THINK BEFORE YOU EAT: The Widespread Effects of Factory-Farmed Meat, and the editorial: THE COW IN THE LIVING ROOM: http://tinyurl.com/5qqmro

 

6. HALLMARK SUPERVISOR PLEADS NO CONTEST TO CRUELTY CHARGES

Daniel Ugarte Navarro, the slaughterplant supervisor accused of torturing cattle at the Hallmark Meat Company (see: http://tinyurl.com/2l8ehy ) pled no contest to animal-cruelty charges. If convicted of all counts against him, Navarro could have faced up to 8 years in prison. He instead faces up to a year in county jail but will probably be allowed to serve the sentence at home or on a weekend work-release program. Sentencing is scheduled for August 25th. Navarro will also spend three years on probation and undergo psychological counseling, and he must get rid of chickens and rabbits he has. Navarro’s lawyers were unsuccessful in arguing that the charges should instead have been filed against Hallmark management. Navarro is said to be willing to cooperate in any investigation into the roles of Hallmark executives in the abuse. Rafael Sanchez Herrera, the other employee charged in the case, previously pled guilty and was sentenced to 180 days in jail after which he will be deported to Mexico (see: http://tinyurl.com/5v2pap ).

FORMER SLAUGHTERHOUSE SUPERVISOR ENTERS NO-CONTEST PLEA
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Rod Leveque, June 20, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6ocqwu

 

7. WORKER CHARGED WITH ABUSING PIGS

Elio Miguel Marrero, a Smithfield worker allegedly caught on videotape assaulting pigs at a North Carolina company that supplies Smithfield Foods, has been charged with six counts of animal cruelty (see: http://tinyurl.com/2wqouy ). Murphy Family Ventures fired a number of employees earlier this year after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released video footage of pigs being abused at the company’s pig breeding facility (see: http://tinyurl.com/5q7slb ). Marrero is scheduled to appear in court on August 12th. A second man, who fled the state, will also face cruelty charges if he returns.

NORTH CAROLINA SLAUGHTERHOUSE WORKER CHARGED WITH 6 COUNTS OF ANIMAL CRUELTY
Fox News, Catherine Donaldson-Evans, July 1, 2008
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,374703,00.html






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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.