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AUGUST 8, 2008 -- Number 21, Volume 8

1. N.J. RULES ON FARMED ANIMAL STANDARDS

In a unanimous decision, New Jersey’s Supreme Court rejected a broad challenge by animal protection advocates to the state’s rules on the care of farmed animals (see: http://tinyurl.com/6oocbp ) but struck down regulations that regard husbandry practices as being “humane” merely because they are routine. The court upheld regulations permitting pig and calf confinement, the transport of ill and injured cattle, and force molting of birds. “Although the court noted that these practices are controversial and that downed animals ‘suffer greatly,’ it found the record on appeal insufficient to warrant striking the regulations at this time,” explains an article from the Environmental News Service. While the decision did not ban any procedure or practice, “the Court further held that tail docking could not be considered humane, and [that] mutilations without anesthesia including castration, de-beaking and de-toeing could not be considered humane without some specific requirements to prevent pain and suffering,” the article notes. The N.J. Department of Agriculture (NJDA) was ordered to readdress a number of its mandated standards for farmed animal treatment.

A N.J. Farm Bureau spokesperson expressed disappointment at the decision while animal protection advocates deemed it a victory. Many states exempt routine practices from their cruelty code, and the precedent-setting ruling will be used in the nationwide campaign against controversial practices. The plaintiffs plan to pressure the NJDA to abandon them when the regulations are revised. The court’s opinion can be found at (PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/69ubnn.


COURT ORDERS SCRUTINY OF N.J. LIVESTOCK
Courier-Post, Tom Baldwin, August 1, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5hsx9b

HIGH COURT UPHOLDS FARMING PRACTICES QUESTIONED BY ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS
The Star-Ledger, Kate Coscarelli, July 30, 2008
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/07/the_new_jersey_supreme_court.html

NEW JERSEY COURT RULES FACTORY FARM PRACTICES NOT HUMANE
Environmental News Service, July 31, 2008
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jul2008/2008-07-31-093.asp

 

2. N.Y. RULES ON FOIE GRAS CASE

On July 31st, a New York state appeals court dismissed the majority of a lawsuit by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) challenging a grant the state made to Hudson Valley Foie Gras (HVFG). The court decided that HSUS and six of its members lacked legal standing to challenge the $420,000 grant HVFG received in 2006. The money was for manure treatment and ventilation systems to accompany the company’s increase in ducks from 250,000 to 325,000  (see: http://tinyurl.com/5rfg7w ). The plaintiffs brought suit under a law that allows citizen taxpayers to oppose expenditures if it can be shown that a project would proceed without state aid. The court determined that the law does not apply to the "mismanagement of funds or the arbitrary and capricious distribution of funds lawfully allocated to an agency." The court did find that HSUS should be granted access to paperwork regarding the deal, some of which the state had attempted to keep concealed. HSUS contends the documents will support its case and is planning to appeal the ruling.

HSUS is party to two other related New York cases. One contends that foie gras is an adulterated and unwholesome food that should not be marketed. The other charges HVFG with having more than 1,000 violations of the federal Clean Water Act. (See: http://tinyurl.com/233k63 ) HVFG’s attorney said the recent court ruling against HSUS also pertains to the adulteration case. 


COURT DENIES HUMANE SOCIETY'S STANDING IN FOIE GRAS FIGHT
New York Law Journal, Joel Stashenko, August 6, 2008
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202423550088

 

3. UPDATE ON CALIFORNIA PROP 2

California’s Proposition 2 (see: http://tinyurl.com/569tab and [PDF link]: http://tinyurl.com/5pnna4 ) is not solely about the California egg business but is also about the egg industry’s national survival, warned Gene Gregory at the annual legislative meeting of United Egg Producers (UEP). Gregory is the president and CEO of UEP, an industry trade group. The ballot initiative was the dominating topic of the meeting, where it was said that up to $50 million will be needed to successfully fight it. Throughout UEP’s annual meeting speakers cautioned that Prop 2’s passage would be a major blow to the industry. Efforts for such a ballot initiative in Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire and Vermont have failed but efforts are currently underway to establish similar legislation in Colorado and Washington. (See also: BALLOT INITIATIVES EMBRACE NEW CAMPAIGN TOOLS at: http://tinyurl.com/659kty ).

In July, the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)’s board of directors voted 9-4 to endorse Prop 2.  The action prompted many farmed animal vets to leave CVMA and form the Association of California Veterinarians, which subsequently voted to oppose the ballot initiative, reports Feedstuffs.


EGG PRODUCERS RALLY IN HOPES OF DEFEATING CALIFORNIA BALLOT INITIATIVE
Watt Poultry, July 1, 2008 (source: Egg Industry, July 2008)
http://www.wattpoultry.com/EggIndustry/Article.aspx?id=24580

CVMA DOES NOT SUPPORT PROP 2
Feedstuffs FoodLink, Rod Smith, August 3, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5z6bzw

 

4. APPRECIATIONS AND EXPLOITATION OF FARMED ANIMALS

“[T]he most important election this November that you’ve never heard of is …Proposition 2…” writes New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Krisof in his July 31st op-ed. The former “farm boy” and FFA/4-H member remarks on individual personalities of the farmed animals his family raised. Regarding geese, Krisof notes that they “mate for life and adhere to family values that would shame most of those who dine on them.” Recalling when he would catch one to slaughter: “Very often, one goose would bravely step away from the panicked flock and walk tremulously toward me. It would be the mate of the one I had caught, male or female, and it would step right up to me, protesting pitifully. It would be frightened out of its wits, but still determined to stand with and comfort its lover.”

Krisof continues: “I eat meat (even, hesitantly, goose). But I draw the line at animals being raised in cruel conditions. The law punishes teenage boys who tie up and abuse a stray cat. So why allow industrialists to run factory farms that keep pigs almost all their lives in tiny pens that are barely bigger than they are? More broadly, the tide of history is moving toward the protection of animal rights, and the brutal conditions in which they are sometimes now raised will eventually be banned. Someday, vegetarianism may even be the norm.”

See also: FARM ANIMALS TAKE ON DISTINCT PERSONALITIES, an August 4th commentary on National Public Radio’s news program All Things Considered by Julie Zickefoose, an author currently working on a new book about the minds of birds:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93270340

And see: WASHINGTON COUNTY FAIR SHOWS MOVING TOWARD PETS AND AWAY FROM FARM ANIMALS: The Increasing Urbanization of 4-H Means the Animals at this Year's County Fair are Less and Less Likely to Wind up on Someone's Dinner Table: http://www.twincities.com/ci_10036667?nclick_check=1

And: HOGS GONE WILD: 50 Team Compete in Eldorado Picnic Hog Wrestling Contest, which includes a photo gallery: http://tinyurl.com/6dkpfn
The Reporter, Sharon Roznik, July 20, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6e9jvr

A FARM BOY REFLECTS
The New York Times Nicholas D. Kristof, July 31, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5ckcnz

 

5. BIRDS INCREASINGLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO HEAT

Soaring temperatures have been killing off poultry in southeast Arkansas. "Some of these farmers are running their fans and cooling cells non-stop but are still losing a lot of birds," said University of Arkansas agricultural extension agent Stephen Stone. While the loss of chickens from heat stress is not new to the industry, it is exacerbated by the practice of raising birds to heavier weights. Even a slight difference in the weight of a chicken can have a significant impact on his or her ability to endure heat.

HIGH TEMPERATURES CAUSING LOSSES
The Poultry Site, August 4, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/66x9b6

 

6. MONSANTO LOOKING TO SELL OFF BST BUSINESS

Monsanto is putting up for sale its business of producing Posilac (also known as BST), an artificial growth hormone injected into cows to increase milk production. The announcement comes as major retailers, such as Wal-Mart, are increasingly responding to consumer demand for dairy products from cows not treated with the drug. Almost all of the fresh milk sold by Dean Foods, the largest U.S. milk distributor, is said to come from untreated cows. Monsanto, the only commercial manufacturer of Posilac, insists that sales of the drug remain brisk but declined to provide sales figures. A 2007 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that 17% of the country’s cows were receiving it.

Various advocacy groups have long argued that BST is harmful to cows; others claim it could be a human cancer risk. Posilac is sold in 20 countries, but Canada, European Union member countries and others prohibit the hormone’s use. Monsanto argues that milk from cows treated with the drug is only different in quantity and not quality. The company has long fought against labels that say milk has been produced without the hormone. Efforts to ban such labels at the state and federal level have been unsuccessful. Monsanto reportedly will continue selling the product until a buyer for the business can be found.

MONSANTO LOOKS TO SELL DAIRY HORMONE BUSINESS
The New York Times, Andrew Martin and Andrew Pollack, August 7, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/5so634

CORNELL MOVES TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY: BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE TOUTED AS ‘GREEN'
The Ithaca Journal, Krisy Gashler, July 15, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/6kkawq

MONSANTO LOOKING TO SELL BOVINE HORMONE BUSINESS
The Ithaca Journal, Krisy Gashler, August 8, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/59sqao

FIGHTING ON A BATTLEFIELD THE SIZE OF A MILK LABEL
The New York Times, Andrew Martin, March 9, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/09feed.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.