DEVELOPMENTS IN MOWMAR CASE
Six workers formerly employed by MowMar Farms have been charged with animal abuse and aiding and abetting animal abuse and neglect (see: http://tinyurl.com/6dcdxy ). The Iowa misdemeanor abuse charges carry penalties of up to two years in prison and a $6,250 fine. The neglect charge is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $625 fine. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had wanted 18 people prosecuted for animal cruelty but the county sheriff said some of the workers won’t be charged because it is debatable whether the use of electric prods is reasonable. (MowMar has said that “shockers” have been removed from the premises.) An Oct. 22nd news release from the sheriff’s office states that two of the six were still employed (PDF link: http://tinyurl.com/6gks6y ). However, according to the Oct. 23rd edition of Business Week, MowMar said it no longer employs the six.
On October 21st, PETA posted another video of a pig being abused at the MowMar facility in which the manager repeatedly kicks, shocks and curses at a debilitated pig: http://tinyurl.com/65d6wn According to PETA, it was recorded the day after an undercover investigator reported abuse at the facility to the manager (in September). The organization said that an October 20th phone call confirmed the manager was still employed there. Following the county sheriff’s October 22nd decision to charge the six workers, MowMar announced that it did fire the manager. He was not one of the six charged.
An October 8th statement released by MowMar, detailing the actions it had publicly committed to in mid-September, states: “In those situations where MowMar can substantiate violations of farm policies or mistreatment of animals, responsible employees have been and will be disciplined or terminated accordingly…Documented violations of farm policies or animal cruelty have resulted in termination of employment for those employees involved.” It further states that the practice of spraying animals in the face [with paint?] has been terminated.
Hormel Foods, a customer of the MowMar farm, criticized PETA for not releasing the second video earlier. The organization responded with a letter to Hormel demanding it "immediately cease and desist from making knowingly false statements" about PETA's investigation. The letter points out that Hormel was notified in mid-September of the footage but the company declined a requested meeting. A PETA spokesperson said that past experience had taught that in order to put a permanent stop to cruelty at the facility a strong case needed to be presented to the sheriff: "We had to show that the abuse was repetitive, routine and that it wasn't ... a one-day or a one-week-long operation but, instead, was the rule and not the exception there."
COMPANY FIRES MANAGER OF FARM WHERE PIGS ABUSED
Business Week, Henry C. Jackson, October 23, 2008
CHARGES FILED AGAINST 6 IN IOWA PIG ABUSE CASE
Associated Press, Amy Lorentzen, October 23, 2008
STATEMENT FROM MOWMAR FARMS IN RESPONSE TO PETA ALLEGATIONS
PETA WILL RELEASE MORE VIDEO SPECIFICALLY IDENTIFYING MANAGER'S ACTS
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals news release, October 20, 2008
SIX CHARGED WITH ABUSE OF ANIMALS
Post-Bulletin, Tim Ruzek, October 22, 2008
PROP 2 CONTINUES TO MAKE HEADLINES
The October 26th issue of The New York Times Magazine features an extensive article about Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), California’s Proposition 2 ( http://tinyurl.com/572tvb ), and the animal protection movement. Pacelle has made farm animals a top priority because their treatment “is the greatest abuse of animals that occurs on this planet.” To bypass the legislative process where “big money has made it nearly impossible to get meaningful farm-animal-welfare legislation passed,” he has pursued the ballot-initiative approach, often with success. Author Maggie Jones explains: “…if Proposition 2 becomes law it will create a ripple effect, putting pressure on other states to pass similar reforms and pushing major food corporations to go crate-free and cage-free.”
Jones examines the moderate strategy that Pacelle and his colleague Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary have taken, and criticisms of Prop 2 both within and outside of the animal protection community. She also discusses the aggressive legal tactics HSUS has been employing against the egg industry “…to signal publicly how costly these ballot initiatives can be for agriculture industries — in terms of money and public relations” (see also: http://tinyurl.com/5tnw7t ). Pacelle asks: “Wouldn’t they rather negotiate and spend that money re-engineering their facilities and getting that much ahead of the game? Then they get to be heroes.” The publicity that Prop 2 has engendered (for example, see: http://tinyurl.com/5fgm8b ) has already succeeded in promoting farmed animal protection. Pacelle asserts that within a generation or two the public will have made a mental shift, wondering why confinement systems and other standardized farm-animal “abuses” were tolerated for so long, Jones notes. (See also item #3) In Time magazine, PETA's Ingrid Newkirk explains why PETA does what it does: http://tinyurl.com/6hvz5w and see: "STRANGE TACTICS HELP SHINE LIGHT ON ANIMAL ISSUES": http://tinyurl.com/666av2.
An October 24th NYT article considers the arguments for and against Prop 2, with both sides in agreement “that the ballot issue is sure to be the most expensive — and quite likely the most bruising — animal rights campaign ever.” The Washington Post also looks at both sides of the issue, as does Grist Magazine, the on-line environmental news daily, which takes an in-depth look with an article that includes links to campaign ads for and against the initiative.
THE BARNYARD STRATEGIST
The New York Times Magazine, Maggie Jones, October 26, 2008
A CALIFORNIA BALLOT MEASURE OFFERS RIGHTS FOR FARM ANIMALS
The New York Times, Jesse McKinley, October 24, 2008
CLUCK AND COVER
Grist, Carol Ness, October 23, 2008
VOTERS TO DECIDE WHETHER ANIMALS NEED MORE SPACE
The Washington Post, Ashley Surdin, October 26, 2008
PROP 2 FEEDBACK
Wayne Pacelle (see item #2) also has an op-ed published about Proposition 2 in the October 28th issue of the Los Angeles Times. Reminding readers of the Norco and Hallmark investigations (see: http://tinyurl.com/6o6uqy and http://tinyurl.com/59jlov ), he contends: “These two investigations show that we cannot allow the factory farming industry to self-regulate, nor can we wait for government to step up and protect animals from abuse or to guard us from food safety threats.” Pacelle also points out that Norco, the largest intensive confinement egg operation in the state, together with its owner, Moark are the largest funders of the campaign against Prop 2. “Science has confirmed what common sense already tells us: Cramming animals into filthy, unsafe cages leads to higher rates of diseases such as salmonella, which can spread to people,” he writes. Pacelle also notes that the initiative includes a six-year phase-in period to allow for gradual transition to other systems. “The greatest nation in the world, with the most innovative farmers, can do better than immobilize animals in severe confinement systems for their entire lives,” he states.
Following its September 25th editorial on Prop 2 (http://tinyurl.com/572tvb ), the Los Angeles Times printed a responding op-ed by animal rights activist Karen Dawn. Dawn writes in support of the ballot initiative on health, environmental, economic and humanitarian grounds. She counters the Times’ argument that Prop 2 might lead to the importation of inhumanely produced eggs by pointing out that this has not been the case elsewhere where similar laws have been passed. As an example, she notes: “[W]hen Austria banned battery cages, the major grocery chains there chose to stop selling a product that had become criminally cruel to produce.” Dawn asserts: “We cannot refuse to pass a good bill because we wish it were even better. We must not let Proposition 2 fail and let the industry pretend that we are satisfied with its paltry standards.”
L.A. Times columnist George Skelton also opines on the issue, concluding: “The issue of hen confinement should be worked out between farmers, animal rights activists and consumers through the marketplace. I'm going to ask my wife to buy only eggs from cage-free chickens. Then I'll probably vote against Proposition 2.”
PROP. 2 -- FOR ANIMALS AND OUR HUMANITY
The Los Angeles Times, Karen Dawn, October 21, 2008
PROPOSITION 2: GOOD FOR CHICKENS, BAD FOR CHICKEN FARMERS
The Los Angeles Times, George Skelton, October 20, 2008
INDUSTRY ADVISED TO GET PROACTIVE, GO ON THE OFFENSIVE
“Does the hen have an obligation to produce eggs for people? Should the pig's purpose be to provide food, fiber, fuel and pharmaceuticals for humans?” In an article in the industry publication Feedstuffs, animal-agriculture advocate Trent Loos calls on HSUS’s Wayne Pacelle (see items 2 and 3) to respond to a series of questions he poses in reference to Proposition 2 (see items 2 and 3) and confinement agriculture in general. “The ‘Genesis’ book of the Bible gave man dominion over animals, and it is our ethical responsibility to find the best and most efficient methods possible to convert those natural resources into human consumable products,” he contends. “Why isn't it against human morals to unnecessarily increase the costs of food to the hungry around the world by lawfully restricting the type of housing a hen or sow can have?” Loos asks. He asserts: “I believe Pacelle supports the notion that our great nation should be run by a group of elitists who have lost their sense of decent morality and concern for their fellow human beings.”
“The whole concept that humans have a role as stewards over animals, but occupy a space in the hierarchy of creation different than them…is quickly becoming regarded as the equivalent of racism and bigotry in the minds of many,” laments BEEF’s Troy Marshall. “[W]e must advance our beliefs and values in the realm of public discourse so that they prevail against these other philosophies,” he advises: “If animal welfare issues aren’t at the top of concerns that this industry must proactively deal with it, they need to be elevated to top priorities quickly.” Another recent column by Marshall is entitled Is Oprah Getting Her Revenge On Cattlemen?:http://tinyurl.com/69yn8e
Regarding the recent Oprah episode (see: http://tinyurl.com/5fgm8b ) and the confinement crates shown on it, American Cowman’s Kindra Gordon reckons: “My guess is that housewives are going to be conjuring up the images of those crates the next time they are at the grocery store, and they’ll be steering straight for products that proclaim free-range and tout safe animal handling practices.” She says that industry representatives need to be “proactive, persistent, and confident” in addressing animal welfare issues. “Our industry needs more producers being spokespeople for who they are and how they care for their land and livestock,” Gordon states.
The Beef Checkoff has announced its Master of Beef Advocacy program, which is intended to help industry members become more effective spokespersons. Six one-hour courses, which can be taken on-line, cover such topics as animal care, environmentalism, and food safety. Upon completion, graduates will be able to obtain continuing education rewards by reporting follow-up activities made on behalf of the industry, such as blog responses, letters to the editor or presentations.
SOME QUESTIONS DESERVE ANSWERS
Feedstuffs (commentary), Trent Loos, October 27, 2008
GOLDFISH DISPOSAL AND OWNER OBEDIENCE CLASSES
BEEF, Troy Marshall, October 24, 2008
OPRAH EYES FOOD: TV SEGMENT SHOULD SPUR INDUSTRY TO SPEAK UP
American Cowman, Kindra Gordon, October 20, 2008
BECOME A MASTER OF BEEF ADVOCACY
Cattle Network, October 22, 2008
U.S. consumers are losing confidence in the industry’s handling of farmed animals, according to a new survey conducted by the Center for Food Integrity. (The center is supported by several universities along with major industry trade associations.) On a scale of 0-10, with 0 being "strongly disagree" and 10 being "strongly agree," consumers responded to the statement "U.S. meat is derived from humanely treated animals" with a mean score of 4.8, a drop of more than half a point from last year. The mean score for the statement "I would support a law in my state to ensure the humane treatment of farm animals" was 6.91. The report highlights are on-line at (PDF link, see in particular pages 4 & 5): http://tinyurl.com/5hxx7x .
A survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Argentina and China found that at least half of them want more say in the treatment of farmed animals. The study, "Food 2020: The Consumer as CEO," aims to cast an outlook on the food industry by year 2020: http://www.ketchum.com/food2020.
THEY DON'T BELIEVE US
Meat & Poultry, Steve Bjerklie, October 24, 2008
EUROPEAN EGG SITUATIONS; AVIARIES STUDY; LABEL RATINGS
Animal welfare issues and the forthcoming ban on conventional battery cages continue to dominate Europe’s egg markets according to reports European countries presented at the International Egg Commission's annual meeting, held in September. Details at: http://tinyurl.com/6qhwaz.
The American Humane Association has commissioned an international study to research a range of aviary housing systems to determine the effect of various systems on the health, welfare and productivity of laying hens. The study is to utilize the online reporting and video monitoring systems developed by American Humane Certified (see: http://tinyurl.com/55xkeh ). The three-pronged approach of investigative, online and video data to be utilized is "revolutionary ... and will provide us with never-before-seen information," said researcher Inma Estevez.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA, see also item #7) has categorized food labels that make humane claims as either "good," "better," or "best," and surveyed their availability in the top 23 U.S. supermarket chains. WSPA also has a petition on its website targeting Trader Joe’s to make more humane choices available: http://tinyurl.com/6a56zg. Two 2007 opinion surveys, one conducted by WSPA and one by Oklahoma State University, found that 68% and 49% of respondents, respectively, expressed concern for farmed animal welfare.
AMERICAN HUMANE COMMISSIONS STUDY OF AVIAN HOUSING SYSTEMS
Feedstuffs Foodlink, October 27, 2008
HUMANE GROCERIES: CAN YOU TRUST LABELS LIKE 'CAGE FREE'?
The Christian Science Monitor, Dan Fritz, October 28, 2008
GLOBAL ANIMAL WELFARE CONFERENCES: OIE & FAO
The World Organization of Animal Health (OIE)’s first Global Conference on Animal Welfare, held in 2004, paved the way for the unanimous adoption of an initial series of global animal welfare standards by OIE members (see http://tinyurl.com/5pookr ). At the second conference, held October 20-22, the state of animal welfare legislation and practices worldwide were reviewed, as was the implementation status of OIE welfare standards for the transport of farmed animals, the slaughter of animals for human consumption, and the killing of animals for disease control purposes. The need for harmonization of standards drew support from the 400 participants, as did worldwide implementation of welfare standards and assistance with them for developing countries.
Empowerment of national veterinary services was determined to be key to success, including legislation, training and adequate resources. A study conducted in Argentina in 2007 involving 17,370 slaughtered animals was cited as finding: “Better handling of animals in slaughterhouses resulted in a 39% decrease in injuries, which implies, on a national basis, a production of 14,200 extra tons of beef for human consumption, valued at $28,000,000 (U.S.) on the international market.”
At the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) first meeting dedicated to discussing the implementation of good animal welfare practices, held September 29th, an alliance of animal protection organizations presented ten recommendations for including animal welfare in all of FAO’s actions. The alliance, consisting of Brooke, Compassion in World Farming, Eurogroup for Animals, Humane Society International, the RSPCA and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA, see also item #6), pointed out the benefits that improved animal health and welfare would bring to rural communities and in terms of global warming. “More than two-thirds of the world’s poor are dependent on farm animals for incomes and food,” said a WSPA spokesperson. Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Sweden indicated their desire for animal welfare to remain on FAO’s agenda. The alliance is now urging the FAO to hold an official discussion about the relevance of animal welfare to its work when its Committee on Agriculture meets in April. It is hoped that such a discussion could lead to animal welfare being recognized as a key area of FAO’s work at its annual conference to be held in November 2009. WSPA is also gathering signatures for its Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, which would result in international recognition of animal welfare if adopted by the U.N.: http://www.animalsmatter.org.
OIE: IMPLEMENTING GLOBAL WELFARE STANDARDS
The Poultry Site, October 23, 2008
UN HOLDS LANDMARK FIRST MEETING ON ANIMAL WELFARE
World Society for the Protection of Animals, September 30, 2008