Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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MARCH 1, 2009 -- Number 4, Volume 9

1. ANIMAL EARMARKS IN FEDERAL SPENDING BILL

On February 25th, House of Representatives passed the 2009 omnibus spending bill, which determines funding for federal agencies [see: http://tinyurl.com/bq354b and http://tinyurl.com/dyk5to ]. Among the appropriations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are a $2 million increase to strengthen enforcement of “humane slaughter” laws and $3 million for the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service to maintain the Humane Animal Tracking System. The USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), which helps audit and investigate “humane slaughter” rules and implementation of the ban on slaughtering non-ambulatory cattle, received $85,766,000, a $6,274,000 increase above 2008. The OIG also investigates federal cockfighting and dogfighting crimes and helps prosecute offenders.

The Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee commended the USDA “for the announcement that it intends to move forward with closing the loophole in the current rule governing non-ambulatory cattle” [see: http://tinyurl.com/7xjoyd ] and strongly urged it “to expedite the rules process and close this loophole immediately.” It also expressed concern over the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and urged that the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farmed animals be addressed.

Other earmarked money includes: $1 million for the USDA's Animal Care Division to help prepare for the needs of animals in disasters (the same amount as allocated in 2008), $1.8 million for swine odor and manure management research in Iowa, $14.5 million for the National Animal Identification system ($4.8 million above 2008), and $40.3 million to ensure fair competition and protect consumers from unfair practices by the meat, milk and egg industries ($1.8 million above 2008). The Senate is expected to act on the bill soon.


INVESTING IN THE ANIMALS’ FUTURE, AND OUR OWN
Animals & Politics, Michael Markarian, February 27, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/cc4s5v

HOUSE APPROVES $410 BILLION ‘OMNIBUS’ SPENDING BILL
Bloomberg News, Brian Faler, February 25, 2009
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aGcZFK6kDeQo&refer=us

 

2. JUDGE RULES AGAINST CALIFORNIA SLAUGHTER LAW

A federal judge has ruled in favor of the meat industry that non-ambulatory pigs can be slaughtered for human consumption. At issue is whether a new California law banning the slaughter of non-ambulatory farmed animals as meat for human consumption takes precedence over the 1907 Federal Meat Inspection Act (see: http://tinyurl.com/ac6fk3 ). The slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle is already prohibited by federal law (though see item #1) and was not part of the case. California was joined in support of its law by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Farming Association, and the Humane Society of the U.S. According to ALDF, the ruling conflicts with two federal appeals court decisions that allow states to regulate animals entering the food supply. If the ruling isn’t appealed, the National Meat Association and the American Meat Institute will ask the judge to make it permanent.


MEAT GROUPS WIN ROUND IN FOOD SAFETY CASE
The Fresno Bee, John Ellis, February 19, 2009
http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/1211604.html

JUDGE SAYS PIGS TOO WEAK TO STAND CAN BE BUTCHERED
The Associated Press, February 20, 2009
http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_11749800

 

3. STATES FAVORING HORSE SLAUGHTER

Twelve states are considering measures in favor of reestablishing horse slaughter in the U.S. Resolutions opposing HR 503, a federal bill to eliminate horse slaughter nationwide and prohibit the export of horses to slaughter (see: http://tinyurl.com/adylqr ), have passed or are under consideration in Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Additionally, bills amending state laws to promote private investment in horse slaughter are pending in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, and Tennessee. The measures are said to have been prompted by a resolution submitted in the National Conference of State Legislatures in December. (NCSL advocates for state governments' interests before Congress and other federal agencies.) The resolution encourages legislators in rural states to promote horse slaughter in order to generate jobs and address the issue of unwanted horses.

On February 24th, the Montana House voted 67-33 to endorse a bill to allow private horse slaughterplants to be built. Included in HB 418 is a provision that anyone attempting to sue to block construction of a horse slaughterplant must post a bond at 20% of the estimated cost of the plant. Failure of their lawsuit would result in the plaintiff being liable for financial losses caused by delay. The bill says a state court may not delay construction of a slaughterplant once it is licensed by the state. Attempts to amend the bill failed.

On February 19th, the North Dakota House approved a bill (by 89-5) granting $50,000 to study potential sites and costs for the construction of a horse slaughterplant in the state as well as potential legal obstacles to it.

See also: http://tinyurl.com/at2yvp


STATES LINE UP BEHIND HORSE-SLAUGHTER LEGISLATION
BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly (source: Horse.com), February 27, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/bfpvoz

HORSE-SLAUGHTERING PLANTS ENDORSED BY HOUSE
Helena Independent Record, Mike Dennison, February 25, 2009
http://www.helenair.com/articles/2009/02/25/legi/85st_090225_horse.txt

SENATE OKS SLAUGHTER MEASURE
Bismarck Tribune, Brian Duggan, February 19, 2009
http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2009/02/19/news/local/177139.txt

 

4. WASHINGTON STATE SUED OVER CRUELTY EXEMPTIONS

Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN) has filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington charging that animal cruelty criminal laws give industry undue control over how farmed animals are kept and killed. (See also: http://tinyurl.com/aehk8t ) Although animal cruelty can be charged as a felony there, actions in keeping with "customary animal husbandry practices” are exempt. NARN contends that these exemptions “invite such a complete delegation of legislative power as to allow the foxes to guard the proverbial henhouse” and are unconstitutional (see PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/dcskxp. Specific changes are not spelled out in the suit but a NARN spokesperson said that at minimum it requires the Legislature to explicitly state what practices are considered customary. Meat and dairy production account for about a third of Washington’s agricultural yield.

CRUELTY LAWS APPLY TO LIVESTOCK, LAWSUIT SAYS
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Levi Pulkkinen, February 20, 2009
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/400950_slaughter21.html

 

5. ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS RANKED

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has released its annual report ranking the animal protection laws of the 50 U.S. states “based on their relative strength and general comprehensiveness.” The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other U.S. territories are also included. (For Canada, see: http://tinyurl.com/d8v644 and see: http://tinyurl.com/cq6xzu ) The unique report “is based on a detailed comparative analysis of each jurisdiction, researching fourteen distinct categories of animal protection laws throughout more than 3,400 pages of statutes.” Each jurisdiction is grouped into a top, middle or bottom tier with a listing of the five best and five worst states. The report can be accessed at (PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/b4aj3j and the state rankings map at: http://tinyurl.com/djo4gm. ALDF also offers a collection of model animal protection laws: http://aldf.org/article.php?id=262 and a compendium of U.S. and Canada animal protection laws: http://aldf.org/article.php?id=259.

2008 STATE ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS RANKINGS
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, December 16th, 2008
http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=786

 

6. WAR ON WILDLIFE

Drawing on a new report entitled “War on Wildlife,” 115 environmental groups signed a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to abolish the Department's Wildlife Services. According to the report -said to be the first comprehensive, national, independent assessment of the agency in 40 years- the $100 million program kills more than 1 million wild animals annually. “Wildlife Services massacres our nation's wildlife mainly to benefit agribusiness," said a WildEarth Guardians spokesperson. The 108-page report was presented to the USDA, members of Congress and the White House.

Some 70 animal agriculture groups and state agriculture offices in 35 states countered with a letter citing more than $125 million in annual losses to the cattle, goat and sheep industries as a result of predation. "Without non-lethal and lethal predator control by Wildlife Services, these numbers could easily double or even triple," said a spokesperson for Public Lands Council, which spearheaded the letter along with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. War on Wildlife concludes that the "sledgehammer approach" to wildlife management could in many cases be replaced by non-lethal alternatives.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently denied a petition against the use of poison laced capsules and collars intended for predators of cattle and sheep. The Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen's Beef Association say that losses of cattle and sheep to predation -estimated to cost $18.3 million and $51 million, respectively- could double or triple without effective predation management.

CALL FOR END TO USDA'S WILDLIFE KILLING AGENCY
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Associated Press), Scott Sonner, February 17, 2009
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/400383_wildlife18.html

DEMISE OF BAN ON PREDATOR-CONTROL TOOLS LAUDED
BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly (source: Public Lands Council), February 20, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/ce7ccj

 

7. HBO TO AIR "DEATH AT A FACTORY FARM"

"Death at a Factory Farm," an 87-minute documentary, will air on Home Box Office (HBO) on March 16th, 19th, 26th and 31st. The documentary features an Ohio pig farmer who was acquitted of animal cruelty charges stemming from the hanging of a pig on his farm (see: http://tinyurl.com/avpxck ). Ken Wiles and his employee, Dusty Stroud, were found not guilty of animal cruelty charges. Wiles' son Joe was found guilty of one charge of animal cruelty for carrying an animal in a cruel or inhumane manner. (A veterinarian testified in court that hanging pigs was a humane way to kill them.)

The documentary includes undercover video taken at the farm and also covers the hearing. An investigator for the Humane Farming Association documented such scenes as: piglets being hurled across a room into a crate where they crash into each other or onto the floor; an unhealthy piglet being taken by the feet and slammed against a wall; impregnated pigs crammed into pens for up to 116 days, and a sick pig being hung from a forklift by a chain and convulsing for five minutes, according to a public-relations representative for the documentary.

HOG FARMER FEATURED IN HBO DOCUMENTARY FOUND NOT GUILTY OF ANIMAL CRUELTY
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Michael Sangiacomo, February 25, 2009
http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/02/hog_farmer_found_not_guilty_of.html

DEATH ON A FACTORY FARM
Dairy Herd Management, February 24, 2009
http://www.dairyherd.com/news_editorial.asp?ts=nl1&pgid=675&ed_id=8224

 

8. UNEP PLAN TO FEED THE WORLD

The United Nations’ Environment Program (UNEP) has unveiled a 7-point plan to feed humanity without increasing pollution through efficiency and reduced waste. "Over half of the food produced today is either lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. Nearly 80% of all endangered species are threatened due to agricultural expansion, and Europe has lost over 50% of its farmland birds during the last 25 years of intensification of European farmlands, according to the report. "There is evidence within the report that the world could feed the entire projected population growth (of about three billion by 2050) alone by becoming more efficient while also ensuring the survival of wild animals, birds and fish on this planet," Steiner said.

Over one third of the world's cereals are being used as animal feed, which is expected to rise to 50% by 2050. Continuing to feed cereals to growing numbers of farmed animals will aggravate poverty and environmental degradation, the report contends. It recommends using the cereal for human consumption by developing alternative animal feeds based on new technology, waste and discards.

The 104-page report, entitled “The Environmental Food Crisis: Environment's Role in Averting Future Food Crises,” can be accessed at: http://www.grida.no/publications/rr/food-crisis. It is widely illustrated with photographs and with graphics for free use in publications.

UNEP GIVES FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Gristmill (source: Agence France-Presse), February 18, 2009
http://www.grist.org/news/2009/02/18/index.html?source=daily

GREEN REVOLUTION WITH A CAPITAL G IS NEEDED TO FEED THE WORLD
United Nations Environment Program, February 17, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/czyz2p

 




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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.