USDA PROPOSES BAN ON SLAUGHTER OF NON-AMBULATORY CATTLE
"To maintain consumer confidence in the food supply, eliminate further misunderstanding of the [inspection] rule and, ultimately, to make a positive impact on the humane handling of cattle, I believe it is sound policy to simplify this matter [see: http://tinyurl.com/6xyll5 ] by initiating a complete ban on the slaughter of downer cattle," stated U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer on August 27th. Under Schafer’s newly proposed rule, cattle who become non-ambulatory after initial pre-slaughter inspection will no longer be eligible for re-inspection but will instead be tagged as “U.S. condemned.” The change was prompted by surveillance of the nation’s slaughterplants, which was sparked by the Hallmark case (see end: http://tinyurl.com/4ofrj8 ). It was applauded by a number of industry groups that had petitioned the USDA in April for such a ban (see: http://tinyurl.com/6e3az5 ). Others point out that the new rule will affect only .003% of cattle slaughtered. Animal-protection advocates are urging the USDA to expand the ban to include earlier points, such as auctions and markets. The USDA is accepting comments on the proposed rule through September 29th 2008 (see 1st source below for contact information). See also: Proposed Downer Rule Is All About Public Relations: http://tinyurl.com/6pzuxv
USDA ANNOUNCES PROPOSED RULE FOR REQUIREMENTS OF THE DISPOSITION OF DOWNER CATTLE
USDA, August 27, 2008
USDA ISSUES 'BRIGHT LINE' RULE
Feedstuffs, Sally Schuff, September 1, 2008
USDA ALLOWED TO PREVENT BSE TESTING; CANADIAN LAWSUIT
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has prevailed in preventing a company from testing for BSE (“mad cow disease”) all of the cattle it slaughters. On August 29th, a U.S. federal appeals court overturned an earlier ruling (see: http://tinyurl.com/6mvgnv ), upholding the USDA's assertion that it alone had authority to control products for prevention, diagnosis, or management of animal diseases. (The USDA tests about 1% of cattle slaughtered for beef for B.S.E.) Large slaughter companies were also opposed to Creekstone Farms testing all cattle, fearing that if the company advertised it, they, too, would then have to conduct the expensive tests. An editorial in the Roanoke Times explains: “[The tests] can detect mad cow disease only two to three months before a cow shows symptoms, while the incubation period of [BSE] is two to eight years. ‘Because most cattle for slaughter in the United States go to market before they are 24 months old,’ the court notes, "it is unlikely that the rapid BSE test will detect the disease.’" The case has been sent back to the district court, where Creekstone can make other arguments.
The August 1997 federal regulations banning the feeding of bone and blood meal to cattle cost the industry almost $900 million, according to a recent USDA report. The cost of lost export trade is estimated at $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion. “The economic effects of policies resulting from animal and poultry disease outbreaks can be much greater and longer lasting than the immediate effect of the outbreak itself,” said a Brownfield Ag News article about the report. The report can be viewed in its entirety at (PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/4cbktl.
In Canada, a $10-billion class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 115,000 cattle ranchers was given the go-ahead on September 4th. The suit faults federal inspectors for negligence in the closing of international borders to Canadian cattle due to a single case of BSE. It contends that the diseased cow was infected because of the failure of a federal program to monitor cattle imported from Britain. The court dismissed the argument of government lawyers that existing compensation programs offer a better solution.
USDA WITHIN RIGHTS TO DISALLOW PRIVATE BSE TESTING
BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, Troy Marshall, September 4, 2008
U.S.D.A. CAN BLOCK B.S.E. TESTING: COURT
Meat & Poultry, Bryan Salvage, September 2, 2008
EDITORIAL: A SANE RULING ON MAD COW TESTING
The Roanoke Times, Editorial, September 3, 2008
THE COST OF 1997 FEED BAN NEARLY $900 MILLION
Brownfield Ag News, John Perkins, September 8, 2008
MAD-COW CLASS ACTION GETS JUDGE'S CLEARANCE
Globe and Mail, Kirk Makin, September 5, 2008
15 DEAD IN ONE OF CANADA’S LARGEST EVER FOOD RECALLS
In one of Canada’s largest ever food recalls, deli meat processed by Maple Leaf Foods Inc. has been implicated in some 50 cases of listeriosis, including "16" deaths. The company has shut down one of its processing facilities and recalled all products produced there since January. Maple Leaf estimates the recall will cost it about $19 million. More than 1,450 people have joined a class-action lawsuit against the company. The legal firm said total compensation could exceed hundreds of millions of dollars. The Canadian Press relates: “According to a statement of claim filed in Saskatchewan, 74-year-old Nadia Bishay died on July 18 from complications due to listeria. Bishay consumed a variety of foods, including Maple Leaf meats, and was admitted to an Ottawa hospital in June, where she developed a blood infection. 'Her face swelled like a balloon, liquids and pus seeped from her skin, and she was given several rounds of antibiotics,' the statement reads. ‘Sores and lesions opened up throughout her body and she became so gravely ill that even her family found their visits to her bedside to be horrific.’”
15TH LISTERIOSIS DEATH CONFIRMED
The Toronto Star, Stacey Askew, September 10, 2008
MAPLE LEAF CHIEF ADDRESSES LISTERIA-RELATED RECALL
Meat & Poultry, Keith Nunes, August 28, 2008
MORE THAN 1,000 CANADIANS JOIN CLASS-ACTION LAWSUITS AGAINST MAPLE LEAF FOODS
The Canadian Press, August 27, 2008
CRUELTY, CHILD LABOR & ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AT AGRIPROCESSORS
Workers hacking the necks of conscious cattle in three separate instances are said to have been videotaped by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in August at Agriprocessors (footage at: http://tinyurl.com/46jn85 ). The company is the largest producer of kosher meat, with annual kosher sales estimated at $80 million. PETA previously documented inhumane slaughter there (see: http://tinyurl.com/5hjeh2 ). Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) viewed the footage and confirmed that inspectors at the plant had subsequently witnessed at least one similar violation but determined it was “not egregious.” Temple Grandin ( http://www.grandin.com ) said the cuts would “definitely cause the animal pain.” She called on the USDA to install videos to monitor slaughter. Federal regulations governing kosher slaughter mandate that a second cut in an animal’s throat can be made only in exceptional cases by rabbis or under their supervision. According to the USDA, Agriprocessors has agreed to stop making secondary cuts until it receives approval from the Department and from kosher certifying authorities.
Agriprocessors, its owner and administrators were each charged with 9,311 child labor violations this week (one for each day a particular violation is alleged for each worker).
In what was the largest single-site immigration raid in U.S. history, 389 illegal immigrant workers were detained when the plant was raided this past May. According to the charges, many of the 32 illegal immigrant children among them worked night shifts with dangerous equipment and exposed to hazardous chemicals. The attorney general's office said the company encouraged job applicants to submit forged identification documents that contained false information about their resident status, age and identity. The leading Jewish authority in charge of certifying kosher food has threatened to withdraw its certification from the plant’s products. A second kosher certifier said he would only remove his seal of approval if the company failed to follow strict procedures for slaughter and packing mandated by Jewish law. So far, two supervisors have accepted a plea deal.
KOSHER PLANT IS ACCUSED OF INHUMANE SLAUGHTER
The New York Times, Julia Preston, September 5, 2008
MEATPACKER MAY LOSE KOSHER CERTIFICATION
The New York Times, Julia Preston, September 11, 2008
IOWA FILES CHILD LABOR CHARGES AGAINST MEAT PLANT
Detroit Free Press, Henry C Jackson with Michael J Crumb & Nigel Duara, Sept. 9, 2008
SECOND AGRIPROCESSORS SUPERVISOR TAKES PLEA DEAL
MeatingPlace, Lisa M. Keefe, August 28, 2008
HALLMARK SLAUGHTERPLANT TO REOPEN, EX-WORKER TO TESTIFY
The former Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing plant (See items #1 &3: http://tinyurl.com/3vq6t2 ) is to reopen in a month or so as American Beef Packers. The new owner said the facility will be an entirely new business with new management. At least 14 cameras are to be stationed in and outside the plant, with an independent third party auditing video from them. The plant will resume slaughtering culled cows. Since Hallmark’s closure, cows from southern California have reportedly been traveling from 400 to 1,200 miles to slaughter.
Daniel Ugarte Navarro, the former Hallmark slaughterplant worker (see:
http://tinyurl.com/5qkg6y ), has agreed to testify against company managers in exchange for as little as seven months of house arrest. He pled guilty to two felony counts of animal cruelty and two misdemeanor counts of illegally moving a non-ambulatory animal. In exchange, three other felony counts of animal cruelty and one other misdemeanor count of moving a non-ambulatory animal were dropped. Ugarte Navarro said he acted upon orders of Pablo Salas, a pen manager. His lawyer said that abuse of non-ambulatory cows "had been going on for 23 years (that Ugarte worked at Hallmark) and nobody ever complained or disciplined him for the manner in which he did it." He also said that many cows were slaughtered when inspectors were not there. Ugarte Navarro’s sentencing has been rescheduled for September 24th.
CBW EXCLUSIVE: FORMER HALLMARK/WESTLAND PLANT TO REOPEN AS AMERICAN BEEF PACKERS
Meat & Poultry, Steve Kay, September 11, 2008
FORMER CHINO SLAUGHTERHOUSE WORKER TO TESTIFY AGAINST MANAGERS
The Press-Enterprise, Darrell R. Santschi, August 25, 2008
HIDDEN EGGS REVEALED IN ANTI-PROP 2 BASKET
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has denied that it planned illegal political spending as it has been accused of by supporters of California’s Proposition 2 campaign (see: http://tinyurl.com/3r45qx ). However, the Department said it would not spend any of the disputed funds in California until after a September 22nd hearing. Separately, the No on 2 campaign was forced to disclose more than $4.5 million that had been contributed to it after the YES! on Prop 2 campaign filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission that it was concealing alleging out-of-state contributions in violation of state campaign finance laws. According to the Humane Society of the U.S., contributions were shown to have been made from 124 agribusiness entities based in 33 states, each contributing an average of nearly $36,000, with less than a third of the funding against Prop 2 coming from California sources. “The large quantity of money from out-of-state egg producers puts the lie to the claim that this measure will drive egg production out of state,” said Jennifer Fearing, campaign manager for the YES! on Prop 2 campaign, which listed some of the larger contributors.
FOR NOW, FEDS WILL STEER CLEAR OF CALIFORNIA ANIMAL-RIGHTS MEASURE
San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko, August 22, 2008
PROP 2 OPPONENTS CHARGED WITH LAUNDERING MONEY AND CONCEALING OUT-OF-STATE CONTRIBUTIONS
California Progress Report, Wayne Pacelle, September 5, 2008
FACTORY FARM CORPORATIONS POUR MONEY INTO ANTI-PROP 2 PROPAGANDA
Politicker CA (source: YES! on Prop 2), September 8, 2008