Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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FEBRUARY 18, 2009 -- Number 3, Volume 9

1. FARMED ANIMALS EXCLUDED FROM STATE ANTI-CRUELTY LAWS

Idaho is one of five states where animal cruelty is not a felony. Previous efforts to strengthen Idaho law have been unsuccessful. Legislative leaders contend that without the agricultural community's support, animal cruelty legislation cannot pass. According to Cattle Association President Kent Mann, the agricultural community has opposed such legislation out of fear that it could interfere with its ability to function. This year, an Idaho animal protection group agreed not to mention farmed animals in its proposed anti-cruelty bill after consulting with state agriculture groups. "We tried to make our [bill] as lenient as possible to satisfy people who might be opposed to it," said Virginia Hemingway, president of Stop Torturing Our Pets. The bill would have made a third animal cruelty conviction a felony. It was killed on February 12th by the House Agricultural Affairs Committee. A separate bill seeks to make cockfighting a felony. The city of Boise is considering tripling its fine for animal cruelty following such incidents as the discovery of numerous dead and malnourished cattle.

In Arkansas, the Felony Animal Cruelty Law has been signed into law. The bill makes aggravated cruelty to cats, dogs and horses a felony on first offense and penalizes cockfighting. Initial opposition by some farmers resulted in a compromise between animal welfare organizations and rural factions. “[T]here's nothing in here that's going to jeopardize agriculture in Arkansas, in any way,” said state Senator Sue Madison, the bill’s lead sponsor. The bill exempts “generally accepted animal husbandry practices.” New Mexico also recently passed a similar bill, and a reportedly similar bill is pending in Mississippi (as is one in Indiana (PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/celpem ). General animal cruelty laws in many other states exclude farmed animals from their protections. See: ANIMAL RIGHTS? SOME THINGS SHOULDN'T HAPPEN TO A DOG: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_11687743
and see: faw/faw8-17.htm#6
faw/faw7-12.htm#2
faw/faw6-38.htm#3
Newsletters/Newslettern71v2.htm#1

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau is spearheading an effort to pass a state law giving the Legislature exclusive right to make laws about farm animal treatment. Agriculture groups are trying to prevent a voter initiative, such as California’s Proposition 2 (see: http://tinyurl.com/djo4uz ), from getting on the Oklahoma ballot.


IDAHO CRUELTY BILL: ANIMAL ADVOCATES, AG COLLABORATE
Idaho Statesman, Sarah D. Wire, February 11, 2009
http://www.idahostatesman.com/newsupdates/story/665306.html

BOISE MAY TOUGHEN ANIMAL CRUELTY LAW
Idaho Statesman, Chad Dryden, February 17, 2009
http://www.idahostatesman.com/boise/story/670241.html#Comments_Container

ANIMAL CRUELTY BILL GETS UNLEASHED
Arkansas Times, Gerard Matthews, January 22, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/bj6xso

IT'S OFFICIAL: ANIMAL CRUELTY IS A FELONY IN ARK.
Zoo Too, February 6, 2009
http://www.zootoo.com/petnews/itsofficialanimalcrueltyisafel-1168

NM HOUSE PASSES ANIMAL CRUELTY BILLS
Associated Press, Deborah Baker, February 13, 2009
http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_11694716
and see (PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/d3r62p

CALIFORNIA LIVESTOCK LAW SPURS GROUP TO SEEK PROTECTION FOR STATE FARMERS
NewsOK (The Oklahoman) Kyle Arnold, February 4, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/a9le4a

 

2. BILLS AGAINST CONFINEMENT, TAIL DOCKING, WANTON DESTRUCTION

In Illinois, a bill was introduced last week to amend the state's Humane Care for Animals Act. The bill seeks to “prohibit a person from tethering or confining any covered animal, on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up and fully extending his or her limbs or turning around freely,” with some exemptions. Violations could result in a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 180 days in jail.

A bill [ http://tinyurl.com/b9vd84 ] has been introduced in the California Senate to ban the docking (partial amputation) of cows’ tails except "during an individual treatment, emergency or operation, if the treatment or operation is performed by a veterinarian for veterinary purposes" with proper anesthesia. Proponents of the practice say it is done for the comfort of milking personnel, to enhance udder cleanliness and to improve milk quality. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that it “provides no benefit to the animal and…can lead to distress during fly seasons." California already outlaws the docking of horses’ tails, and cow tail docking is illegal in much of Europe.’

A California Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture hearing to be held to consider other possible farmed animal protection issues to be addressed by the legislature following the passage of Proposition 2 (see: http://tinyurl.com/djo4uz ) has been cancelled “due to ongoing budget negotiations.” It has not been rescheduled.

A Utah bill has been introduced with the purpose of upgrading the severity of charges in cases of “wanton destruction” of farmed animals (and poaching). Currently prosecuted as criminal mischief, such crimes would range from misdemeanor to second-degree felony depending on the monetary value of the harmed animal(s).

See also: HSUS OUTLINES ITS PUSH FOR CHANGE: http://tinyurl.com/cfemlo


ILLINOIS BILL FOCUSED ON ANIMAL PRODUCTION
Feedstuffs, Sarah Muirhead, February 13, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/bw2smd

NEW TAIL-DOCKING BILL MAY MAKE CALIFORNIA'S DAIRY COWS HAPPIER
Los Angeles Times (blog), Lindsay Barnett, February 13, 2009
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/02/new-tail-dockin.html

CALIFORNIA SENATE HOLDS FIRST ANIMAL WELFARE HEARINGS
Central Valley Business Times, February 16, 2009
http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=11159

BILL STRENGTHENS PUNISHMENT FOR LIVESTOCK CASES
Deseret News, Laura Hancock, February 5, 2009
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,705283085,00.html

 

3. TURKEY ABUSERS FACE YEARS OF INCARCERATION

Three former Aviagen workers have been indicted on 19 counts of animal abuse after they were videotaped torturing turkeys (see: http://tinyurl.com/byzmgg ). Eleven of the counts are felony charges, each punishable by up to five years in jail. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which taped the employees, believes the charges are the most serious that such workers have ever faced.

A trial for five people accused of assaulting pigs at MowMar Farms ( http://tinyurl.com/89wtlt ), scheduled for February, will likely be delayed: http://www.keyc.com/node/16743.


EX-TURKEY FARM WORKERS INDICTED ON ABUSE CHARGES
Associated Press, Vicki Smith, February 5, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/ckkkhr

 

4. CALVES DUMPED

Some thirty calves, believed to be from a dairy, were found dead, stacked by a California roadside in mid-January. "We have seen these calves being illegally dumped on the sides of roads for, oh, the past year, year and a half," said San Joaquin County's agricultural commissioner Scott Hudson. Economic conditions and a rise in the cost of rendering are said to be the cause of an increase in “calf-dumping.” At auction, male calves from the dairy industry would “fetch $5 each but cost hundreds and hundreds more to bottle feed special formula.” Farm Sanctuary is offering $2,000 for information leading to the identification and arrest of the individual(s) who left the calves. Hudson said he will work with the sheriff for a solution but acknowledged that preventing such a crime may be difficult.

NO EXCUSES FOR CALF-DUMPING!
Dairy Herd Management, February 10, 2009
http://www.dairyherd.com/directories.asp?pgID=675&ed_id=8164

DAIRY COWS HEAD FOR SLAUGHTER AS MILK PRICES SOUR
Blue Ridge Now (Associated Press), Tracie Cone, February 16, 2009
http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20090216/APF/902160581

REWARD OFFERED IN CALF CASE
The Record, Reed Fujii, February 10, 2009
http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090210/A_BIZ/902100310

 

5. CANADIAN ACTIVISTS CALL FOR SAFER BUILDING CODES

Canadian activists are calling for changes to farm building codes after thousands of pigs were killed in a January 27th fire that swept through four large Saskatchewan barns. The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals said the incident is but the latest in a series of preventable farm tragedies. A spokesperson for the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes said that updating the national code is on its agenda but that provinces have final say on updating and enforcing building codes. See also: http://tinyurl.com/c9bsks.

PIG BARN FIRE PROMPTS ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS TO CALL FOR SAFEGUARDS
AOL News (source: CBS News), February 9, 2009
http://news.aol.ca/article/pigs-fire/519651/

 

6. CENSUS, SURVEYS, AND STATS

The USDA has released its 2007 Census of Agriculture. It presents “a comprehensive summary of agricultural activity” for the nation and for each state. The document includes information on the populations and monetary values of farmed animals and crops, the number of farms by size and type, operator characteristics and other information: http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/index.asp

An analysis of the census found that: “About 50% of the acres harvested in the U.S. in 2007 were planted in corn and soy. Another 36% of the acres harvested were planted in wheat and hay. Veggies made up only 1.5% of the harvested acres in the U.S.; orchard crops (fruit and tree nuts) made up 1.6%.” According to a study by the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, buying farmed animals fattened on subsidized grain saved chicken slaughterers $11.3 billion, pig slaughterers $8.5 billion, and cattle slaughterers $4.5 billion from 1997 to 2005.

Cattle
The first of a series of reports to be generated from the latest National Animal Health Monitoring System survey of the cattle industry is now available: http://tinyurl.com/b43o7r. The report, “Highlights of Beef 2007-08. Part I: Reference of Beef Cow-calf Management Practices in the U.S., 2007-08,” focuses on health and management practices in 24 major cattle states, representing 80% of U.S. cow-calf operations and 88% of cattle in the U.S. raised for meat. At least six reports and a number of fact sheets are to be generated from the study over the coming year.

The average 2008 feedlot loss on fattened cattle has been estimated at $150 per animal, according to a presentation at the 2009 Cattle Industry Annual Convention. A conservative figure of $100 per animal on the 26 million fed cattle equals a 2008 feeding industry loss of $2.6 billion -- or more than two-thirds of the net worth of the cattle feeding industry, said Tom Brink, vice president of risk management and cattle ownership for Five Rivers Feeding.

Chickens
For the first time since 1975, the U.S. is expected to produce less chicken than in a prior year. Last year, Pilgrim's Pride Corp., the second-largest chicken company in the U.S., had a loss of nearly $1 billion and filed for bankruptcy. In Arkansas, 74 chicken farmers are suing Pilgrim's for fraud after it terminated contracts with at least 300 farms. See also POULTRY OUTLOOK: PROCESSORS STRIVE TO SURVIVE: http://tinyurl.com/b3ohqj

Pigs
A survey of Assured British Pig producers, released at the end of 2008, shows that one in every four sows in the U.K. is bred outdoors, but just one in twenty pigs spend the growing period outdoors and one in a hundred are “finished” on free range. Of U.K. sows, 56% give birth in some form of farrowing crate, while 1% are loose-housed indoors. The majority of piglets are teeth-clipped (57%) and tail-docked (65%). The survey looks into housing, feeding and husbandry practices on pig farms in the United Kingdom. The full report can be found at (PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/d53yvv

NAHMS COW-CALF SURVEY RESULTS AVAILABLE
BEEF, Joe Roybal, February 13, 2009
http://beefmagazine.com/cowcalfweekly/0213-nahms-cowcalf-survey/?smte=wl

FARM SUBSIDIES, BITTER AND SWEET
Gristmill, Tom Philpott, February 13, 2009
http://gristmill.grist.org/print/2009/2/12/165645/217?show_comments=no

SEARCHING TO SUPPORT FALLING US BEEF DEMAND
The Beef Site, February 2009
http://www.thebeefsite.com/articles/1868/searching-to-support-falling-us-beef-demand

FARMERS FACE EMPTY-NEST SYNDROME AMID CHICKEN HOUSING CRISIS
The Wall Street Journal, Lauren Etter, February 12, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123440092979675383.html

STRUCTURE OF THE UK PIG INDUSTRY
The Pig Site, Jackie Linden, February 5, 2009
http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/2512/structure-of-the-uk-pig-industry

 

7. WELFARE NOTES

At its annual convention at the end of January, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association board instructed the organization to "not be compelled to defend" producers who clearly have abused cattle and -if in the best interests of the industry- support actions by federal or state agencies against those who have abused cattle.

Industry efforts to improve U.S. pig production methods have become more urgent with the passage of California’s Proposition 2 (see: http://tinyurl.com/djo4uz ). "We're going to be spending a large amount of dollars on research on how to properly and humanely euthanize all sizes of pigs--from weanling pigs to large sows," a National Pork Board representative said. See also CONTROVERSY OVER GASSING PIGS: http://tinyurl.com/de5apy.

Ensuring that animals throughout Europe are killed by a method that causes instantaneous death or death after stunning is the focus of a European Union proposal. It covers birds and fish but not reptiles or amphibians, and it includes an exemption for religious slaughter without prior stunning. The proposal is to be subject to a comprehensive consultation.

NCBA ACCEPTS GOVERNANCE REPORT
Feedstuffs, Rod Smith, February 1, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/ddslj6

PORK BOARD PRIORITISES HUMANE EUTHANASIA OF PIGS
The Pig Site, January 30, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/c35t2h

EU: CREATE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR WELFARE AT SLAUGHTER
The Poultry Site, January 28, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/dmu7xs




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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.