Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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OCTOBER 1, 2008 -- Number 24, Volume 8

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day: http://www.worldvegetarianday.org
October 2nd is World Farm Animals Day: http://www.wfad.org


1. PETA SEEKING CONVICTIONS FOR “CULTURE OF CRUELTY”

"Hurt' em! These (expletives) deserve to be hurt. Hurt, I say!" "Hurt! Hurt! Hurt! Hurt! ... Take out your frustrations on 'em," a worker yells while beating a pig with a metal rod and encouraging an undercover investigator to do the same. One worker tells the investigator that he shoves a rod into the anuses of pigs. Other acts revealed on footage filmed by two investigators include a bloody pile of piglets who are still moving after their heads were slammed onto concrete, piglet castration and tail amputation without anesthesia, and a pig who had had paint sprayed into her nostrils and all over her face [see: http://tinyurl.com/3fufnr ]. From June into September, investigators from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) worked at the Iowa breeding facility after a whistleblower told the organization about conditions there. The facility, which is a supplier to Hormel Foods, was owned by Natural Pork Production II LLP until mid-August when it was transferred to MowMar LLP.

Many within the pig industry, including MowMar, quickly condemned the acts. "These people are sick," said Temple Grandin [ http://www.Grandin.com ]. The Iowa Farm Bureau said its members were “shocked, appalled and disgusted,” and called for the abusers to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law [http://tinyurl.com/3qjr2s ]. "This is a wakeup call for the industry,” stated Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, “It is frustrating because of the resources the industry has poured into education and training.” Animal agriculture advocate Trent Loos said: “[I]t is easy to pick on PETA, but in this case, the group did animal agriculture a favor. I have to wonder, though, why it took the assistance of an organization with a vegan agenda to stop this ongoing display of disrespect toward animals?”
[ http://tinyurl.com/4dbacn ]. Industry officials also questioned the three months that passed from the time the video was shot to when it was reported.

MowMar, a “family owned farm operation with over 30 years in the swine business,” said it provided animal welfare training to the staff when it took over the farm. It has fired two employees as a result of the video’s release. PETA requested the immediate termination and prosecution of any employee who abuses animals, protection for undercover investigators who go public with the abuse, a ban on all shocking devices, the installation of cameras in animal housing areas, annual animal welfare audits –the results of which be made public-- and a phase-out of sow gestation stalls by 2011. Representatives of Suidae Animal Health, the veterinary group that manages the facility, agreed to immediately adopt some of the measures and are considering others during an internal investigation. PETA is also seeking the prosecution of 18 people for animal cruelty. The organization t is using the investigation to pressure Hormel to demand that its suppliers ensure better treatment of pigs, and to try to get legislation requiring federal oversight of farmed animal production. "This isn't about one farm, of course - it's about a culture of cruelty that exists everyplace we go undercover on a factory farm or slaughterhouse," said PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich. "...anyone eating factory-farmed meat is paying to support it." See also Hog hell: Investigators Uncover Shocking Abuse at Pig Farm: http://tinyurl.com/4qrh78.


VIDEO SHOWS WORKERS ABUSING PIGS
Seattle Post-Intelligencer/Associated Press, Frederic J. Frommer, September 16, 2008
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1110ap_abused_pigs.html

OWNER OF IOWA FARM RESPONDS TO PIG ABUSE VIDEO
Forbes (Associated Press), Amy Lorentzen, September 18, 2008
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2008/09/18/ap5443743.html

PORK INDUSTRY CONDEMNS ABUSE CAPTURED ON VIDEO
Feedstuffs, Cliff Gauldin, September 22, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/43u36r or http://tinyurl.com/5ygkc3

THIS TIME, PETA DESERVES TO HOG THE SPOTLIGHT
Telegraph Herald, Bekah Porter, September 21, 2008
http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=216515

 

2. SENTENCING AND TESTIMONY ON HALLMARK CRUELTY

Daniel Ugarte Navarro, the Hallmark worker who pled no contest to two felony counts of animal cruelty and two misdemeanors of moving a non-ambulatory animal (see: http://tinyurl.com/5qkg6y ), has been sentenced to 270 days (9 months) of weekends in jail in a work-release program, three years of probation, and mandatory classes and counseling. The jail could allow him to serve the time via electronic monitoring. He previously agreed to testify against his former employer in exchange for immunity from charges arising from his testimony.

Navarro said that Hallmark bought ill and injured cows during the 23 years he worked there. According to The Press-Enterprise newspaper, truck driver Rich Sumner “said he lost his work there in the late 1990s when he complained to the Hallmarks about sick cows. He saw one bloated animal slice open its side going through a chute, revealing blackened flesh and pus, Sumner said. Sumner said he transported cattle from auction to many different meat plants, but the Chino slaughterhouse purchased some of the worst. ‘The dairyman would get the last gallon of milk, the last cent out of the cow and then take it to auction,’" Sumner said.  Navarro was the most senior of six men assigned to unload, feed, wash and move some 500 cows to slaughter each day. “They came crippled, very disabled," he said, "They couldn't even stand,” with some 50 to 100 cows collapsing there every day. Navarro said that supervisors ordered them to make the non-ambulatory cows stand, and that Donald Hallmark Jr., a former owner and the plant's cattle buyer, also occasionally ordered them to lift fallen animals. Navarro also said that plant president Steve Mendell knew of and condoned the abuse and slaughter of non-ambulatory cows.

Mendell’s attorney responded by noting that Mendell testified at a congressional hearing that he was unaware of any animal cruelty or food safety violations (see: http://tinyurl.com/3bbke4 ). The former plant owner, Donald Hallmark Sr., defended his son and Mendell, denying that the plant had bought non-ambulatory cows or failed to follow slaughter laws. He pointed out that Navarro might be retaliating for management not backing him during the trial. See also: http://tinyurl.com/6ojbz8


SLAUGHTERHOUSE WORKER GETS JAIL
Daily Breeze, September 25, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/4958mp

CHINO MEAT PLANT WORKER GETS 270 DAYS IN JAIL
The Press-Enterprise, Julia Glick, September 24, 2008
http://www.pe.com/reports/2008/cattle/stories/PE_News_Local_S_cows25.1bcf57e.html

CHINO SLAUGHTERHOUSE REGULARLY BOUGHT, ABUSED SICK CATTLE, EX-WORKER SAYS
The Press-Enterprise, Julia Glick with Paul LaRocco, September 13, 2008
http://www.pe.com/localnews/sbcounty/stories/PE_News_Local_S_beef13.20e7d1d.html

 

3. USDA/AEB ORDERED NOT TO SPEND EGG AD MONEY

Accusing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of flouting the law against government involvement in political campaigns, a federal judge ordered the USDA-supervised American Egg Board (AEB) not spend any of $3 million collected from egg companies on ads against California state Proposition 2 (see: http://tinyurl.com/4wbzjl ). A lawyer for the USDA argued that the ads were “neutral and educational,” but records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act confirmed AEB’s plans and showed that Agriculture Secretary Ed Schaefer had approved the spending and endorsed the ads. A government attorney said it would be too burdensome to review AEB’s national ad campaigns and delete California references, but the judge said the USDA would have to take whatever measures were necessary to comply with her ruling.

A new animated video promoting Prop 2, by the creators of The Meatrix [http://tinyurl.com/3h3oes ], is on-line at: http://uncaged.yesonprop2.com


USDA ORDERED TO QUIT BUYING ANTI-PROP. 2 ADS
San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko, September 23, 2008
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/23/BA9K132SDK.DTL

 

4. FEDS INVESTIGATE POSSIBLE EGG & DAIRY PRICE FIXING

The three largest U.S. egg processors have been served with grand jury subpoenas regarding federal probes into possible price fixing of liquid and powdered eggs. According to the Wall Street Journal: “Fresh-egg farmers acted together through a series of export shipments, organized by United Egg Producers [UEP], an industry cartel whose 250-plus members include virtually all of the nation's big egg producers. By removing a small fraction of eggs that would have been bound for U.S. sales and arranging instead for their export, [UEP] helped tighten domestic supply and drive up the price of eggs across the country, according to newsletters and other documents that [UEP] sent to its members.” The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) asked the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to investigate. HSUS furthermore asserts that “UEP Certified” eggs mislead consumers into believing that hens are treated well although it has no enforcement mechanism if it finds that hens are abused.

Federal investigators are also looking into collective efforts by the dairy industry to manipulate prices. Many agriculture entities are allowed to work together under anti-trust exemptions such as the Capper-Volstead Act, a law passed in 1922 to help small farms bargain with big processors. However, efforts to raise U.S. prices could bring about new government scrutiny of such exemptions.

FEDERAL PROSECUTORS PROBE FOOD-PRICE COLLUSION
The Wall Street Journal, John R. Wilke, September 23, 2008
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122213370781365931.html

HUMANE SCTY: EGG FIRMS FIX PRICES, MASK CRUELTY
Reuters, Diane Bartz, September 24, 2008
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN2447608420080924

 

5. COUNTRY-OF-ORIGIN LABELING COMMENCES WITH CRITICISM

On September 30th, Country of Origin labeling (COOL) of fresh beef, pork, lamb, goat and chicken meat, along with certain other foods, became mandatory for U.S. retailers. In addition to the labeling, retailers will be required to keep records verifying origin claims for one year. Suppliers are also to keep records, and it is anticipated that slaughterplants will require animal suppliers to provide producer affidavits.

Originally part of the 2002 Farm Bill, Congress, pressured by the meat industry, voted to delay COOL’s implementation in 2004 and again in 2006 (see: http://tinyurl.com/5yarpl ). The rules for fish (and shellfish) came into effect in 2005 because “Alaskan officials wanted to differentiate their wild-caught salmon from farmed and imported fish,” reports USA Today. The newspaper further notes: “All chicken and goat consumed in this country are U.S.-raised,” and that in 2008 those industries requested inclusion in the COOL provisions of the Farm Bill. Recent food safety concerns pressured the government to finally put COOL into effect.

Critics of the current rule are concerned about exemptions to it, which include cooked and processed meat, organ meats, and food for restaurants and other food service operations. In addition, butchers, fish markets, and small retailers do not have to comply. It is estimated, therefore, that COOL will apply to only about 30% of the beef sold in the U.S.

Up to 2.5 million cattle and 10 million pigs slaughtered in the U.S. each year are of Canadian or Mexican origin, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, all cattle in the U.S. as of July 15th are to be considered as having originated in the U.S. Instead of specifying where meat comes from, it is possible for the label to state "May contain meat from" and list source countries, even if the product qualifies as being U.S.-only. (For details, see pages 7 & 8 of: http://tinyurl.com/3jw7yr and see: http://tinyurl.com/3t3tk5 ). Farmer and rancher organizations claim that, in order to cut costs, major U.S. meat processors plan to circumvent the spirit of COOL by labeling virtually all of their production that way. In late September, 31 U.S. senators sent a letter to the USDA calling for the rules to be made more restrictive.

The USDA estimated that complying with COOL will cost industry some $2.5 billion in the first year. Industry claims it may cost them $3.9 billion due to late changes the USDA made to implementation guidelines. The USDA is giving companies six months to adjust before it enforces the rules, after which they may be fined $1,000 per violation. The American Meat Institute is calling for more time to comply. The USDA said it is seeking feedback from consumers and industry and will consider making changes to the rule later this year (see, for example: http://tinyurl.com/3eo4xc ).

According to USA Today: “A large share of imported foods is lamb and mutton, 90.6% of which is brought in from other countries. After that, it's fish and seafood, 71% of which is imported. Less than 10% of beef and pork come from outside the USA.” The article includes a list of countries and the foods they supply to the U.S.

FOOD NOW GETS LABEL OF ORIGIN
USA Today, Elizabeth Weise, October 1, 2008
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2008-10-01-food-labeling_N.htm

US: COOL REGULATIONS EFFECTIVE TODAY
World Poultry, September 30, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/3w3js4

COOL REGULATIONS TAKE EFFECT TOMORROW: CBW EXCLUSIVE
Meat & Poultry, Steve Kay, September 29, 2008
http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/daily_enews.asp?ArticleID=96786

SPAM, STILL MYSTERY MEAT, ESCAPES FOOD-LABEL RULES (UPDATE2)
Bloomberg, Alan Bjerga and Tony C. Dreibus, September 30, 2008
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=a9Ig4UE0jhWc&refer=us

LOOPHOLING THROUGH COOL
Meat & Poultry, Steve Bjerklie, September 26, 2008
http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/beyond_stories.asp?ArticleID=96748

WILL MANDATORY COOL HURT GROUND BEEF SALES?
BEEF, Steve Kay, September 4, 2008
http://beefmagazine.com/cowcalfweekly/0904-mandatory-cool-hurt-beef-sales/

SENATORS GIVE USDA LAUNDRY LIST OF COOL CHANGES
MeatingPlace, Janie Gabbett, September 26, 2008
http://www.aamp.com/news/SenatorlaundrylistonCOOL.asp

INDUSTRY SCRAMBLES TO MEET C.O.O.L. CHANGES
Meat & Poultry, Bryan Salvage, September 30, 2008
http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/daily_enews.asp?ArticleID=96808

 

6. STUDY FINDS MEAT TO BE MAIN CAUSE OF CAMPYLOBACTERIOSIS

Campylobacter jejuni causes more cases of gastroenteritis in the ‘developed’ world than any other bacterial pathogen, including E. coli, Salmonella, Clostridium and Listeria combined. A recent study found that nearly all of the campylobacteriosis cases in the patients evaluated were caused by bacteria in farmed animals, particularly cattle and chickens. Wild and domestic animals act as natural reservoirs for the bacteria, which can also survive in water and soil. Recent studies have contradicted the idea that farmed animals are the main reservoir for the bacteria causing human disease. However, the new study, of 1,231 patients in England, found that the bacteria could be traced back to chicken in 57% of the cases and to cattle in 35%. Wild animal and environmental sources accounted for a mere 3% of the cases. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s December 2007 report on zoonotic diseases similarly found that the most common food-borne route of campylobacteriosis is through poultry meat. EFSA cautions that bacteria, particularly Campylobacter and Salmonella, are increasingly becoming resistance to antibacterials, which in turn are becoming less effective in fighting human infections. See also: MEAT WAGON: House of Fools: http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/9/29/14018/4663?source=daily.

FARMED MEAT MAIN SOURCE OF CAMPYLOBACTERIOSIS: STUDY
Food Production Daily, September 26, 2008
http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/layout/set/print/content/view/print/220634





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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.