Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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MARCH 18, 2009 -- Number 5, Volume 9

1. SLAUGHTER BAN "LOOPHOLE" CLOSED; CALIF. CASE APPEALED

"As part of our commitment to public health, our Agriculture Department is closing a loophole in the system to ensure that diseased cows don't find their way into the food supply," President Barack Obama said on March 14th, comprehensively banning the slaughter of non-ambulatory cows for use as human food (see: http://tinyurl.com/7xjoyd ). According to the USDA: “cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled from an acute injury after ante-mortem inspection…now must be humanely euthanized.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the ban was "a step forward for both food safety and the standards for humane treatment of animals." (See also: http://tinyurl.com/cn4w9q ) Obama also called the country's food inspection system "a hazard to public health." He announced the creation of a Food Safety Working Group to coordinate food safety laws and advise him on updating them.

The state of California, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, Humane Farming Association, and the Humane Society of the United States are appealing the federal ruling (PDF link: http://tinyurl.com/al7gjy ) that California cannot prohibit non-ambulatory pigs from being slaughtered in the state for human consumption (see: http://tinyurl.com/al94ty ).

Legislation pending in New York seeks to prohibit non-ambulatory animals from being transported or sold prior to they’re being euthanized: http://tinyurl.com/adkz85.


OBAMA BANS 'DOWNER' COWS FROM FOOD SUPPLY
The Associated Press, March 14, 2009
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29691788

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY TOM VILSACK ANNOUNCES FINAL RULE FOR HANDLING OF NON-AMBULATORY CATTLE
USDA Release No. 0060.09, Amanda Eamich, March 14, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/dhhjrd

STATE OF CALIF., ANIMAL WELFARE GROUPS APPEAL INJUNCTION
MeatingPlace, Lisa M. Keefe, March 11, 2009
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/webNews/details.aspx?item=11615

 

2. STATE LEGISLATION

The success of California’s Proposition 2 (see: http://tinyurl.com/djo4uz ) has prompted similar efforts in Illinois and in Massachusetts (see: http://tinyurl.com/cta9lp and http://tinyurl.com/clouyz ). In Ohio, the Farm Bureau is planning a public relations campaign about common animal agriculture practices in anticipation of Prop 2-type efforts there. Meanwhile, legislation has been introduced in Georgia and Oklahoma to prevent local governments and individuals from passing laws pertaining to the care and handling of farmed animals (see: http://tinyurl.com/b3fdck and http://tinyurl.com/al75he)

Battery Cages
In Connecticut, hearings were held in February on a bill requiring battery cages to be spacious enough for hens to be able to spread their wings ( http://tinyurl.com/ck885d ). Back in California, Assembly bill 1437 has been introduced, which would require that by 2015 only cage-free eggs could be sold in the state ( http://tinyurl.com/brsajj ).

Tail Docking, Antibiotics
California and Illinois also have legislation pending that would ban the amputation (“docking”) of cows’ tails (without anesthesia in Ca., see: http://tinyurl.com/cta9lp and http://tinyurl.com/amk8xe ). In addition to the tail-docking legislation, California Senate Majority Leader and Chair of the Food and Agriculture Committee Dean Florez has introduced legislation that would: prohibit the administration of antibiotics to farmed animals for non-medicinal or preventative purposes; prohibit schools from serving meat from animals who have been treated with antibiotics; and would require state and local government to give purchasing preference to meat that has been produced without the use of medically important antibiotics as feed additives (see PDF link: http://tinyurl.com/b27zfd ).

Cloning
Legislators in Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, and Washington are attempting to require labeling of products derived from cloned animals.

Hit-and-Run Drivers
A law has been proposed in California for motorists to incur a fine and possible jail time if they hit and abandon an animal, including farmed animals: http://tinyurl.com/cl7ujp. Drivers would be required to attempt to aid the animal and notify the animal’s guardian or animal-control authorities. (It is a misdemeanor in California to flee an accident in which property has been damaged.) New York has a similar law, as do Germany and Singapore.

More Information
Information on pending state farmed animal protection legislation can be found at: http://www.trendtrack.com/texis/app/viewrpt?event=47652c6794


DISMANTLING THE FACTORY FARM: ONE STATE, ONE STEP AT A TIME
Farm Sanctuary, March 2009
http://www.farmsanctuary.org/get_involved/alert_march_legis.html

FARMERS GEAR UP FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS FIGHT
LimaOhio.com, Bart Mills, March 12, 2009
http://www.limaohio.com/news/farm_35147___article.html/horses_animal.html

 

3. HBO SHOW GARNERS ATTENTION, PROMPTS INDUSTRY RESPONSE

“The latest attempt to destroy the livestock industry,” as described by AgWeb’s Sara Brown, is the HBO documentary Death on a Factory Farm (see: http://tinyurl.com/bbwvuf and http://tinyurl.com/d4m5xu ). “It is not pretty,” warns Pork’s Marlys Miller ( http://tinyurl.com/c72x9s). The documentary has garnered media attention, including a write-up in the New York Times which, in reference to scenes of a pig being strangled, states: “If it upsets you, then you’ll also be disturbed by the shots of sows left to die in fetid pens and the sound of deformed piglets’ heads being smashed. The fact that these things don’t upset everyone is the crux of the film…” Time magazine published an interview with “Pete,” the undercover investigator (and see: http://tinyurl.com/bd97q8 ).

Brown’s article includes “a lesson in livestock public relations 101,” with talking points compiled by the National Pork Board (see: http://tinyurl.com/dy7w5x ). She advises: “If a member of the media comes to your farm…Be prepared to know which animals you will let them have access to and if no access is to be given, why.” See also:
PORK PRODUCERS MUST DOCUMENT 'RIGHT THING'
Feedstuffs, Rod Smith, March 2, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/dcqdv3
and see: http://tinyurl.com/d2mujc and, from 2008: http://tinyurl.com/c4eucz


LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS—SET YOUR DVR!
AgWeb, Sara Brown (blog), March 16, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/cphrn2

HOW THESE PIGGIES WENT TO MARKET
The New York Times, Mike Hale, March 15, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/16/arts/television/16farm.html

UNDERCOVER ANIMAL RIGHTS INVESTIGATOR
Time, Kate Pickert, March 9, 2009
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1883742,00.html

 

4. FOOD, INC.; INDUSTRY OUTREACH

While BEEF Daily’s Amanda Nolz is “deeply concerned” about the HBO documentary, which, she wrote, “sends shivers down our spines,” of another documentary, entitled Food, Inc. (see: http://www.takepart.com/foodinc/ and last paragraph: http://tinyurl.com/claggf ), she writes: “If it doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.” The film, from the producers of An Inconvenient Truth ( http://tinyurl.com/2w3g4o ), includes graphic footage of poultry facilities and slaughterplants. Variety calls it: “a civilized horror movie for the socially conscious, the nutritionally curious and the hungry.” Due to be released on June 12th, the trailer can be viewed at: http://tinyurl.com/d2wcdz.

Nolz urges industry members to engage in public outreach: http://tinyurl.com/d3cfbc.
See also: LOCAL RANCHERS WORK ON THEIR IMAGE
Chico News & Review, Sarah Hubbart, March 12, 2009
http://www.newsreview.com/chico/Content?oid=925459
and
A HEART-TO-HEART WITH CONSUMERS
Dairy Herd Management, March 10, 2009
http://www.dairyherd.com/news_editorial.asp?ts=nl1&pgid=675&ed_id=8296
and
WRITE MAKES RIGHT
Poultry, In Perspective, Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, February/March 2009
http://www.meatingplace.com/MembersOnly/archives/details.aspx?item=3688

COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU, “FOOD, INC.”
BEEF Daily, Amanda Nolz, March 5, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/bgwo3c

 

5. MULTIPLE INCIDENTS OF LIVE PIGS BOILED IN SWEDEN

Live pigs were scalded to death at four large Swedish slaughterplants in 2008. Too many pigs were sent through a shaft where they were sedated into unconsciousness. Due to the excessive number, the sedation was not effective and the pigs awoke in a vat of boiling water. A veterinarian noticed them moving in it. No procedures were changed, and a week later he saw the same thing happen again. Food Administration documents reportedly show the same thing has happened at other slaughterplants, all operated or owned by food group HK Scan, which slaughtered some 1.9 million pigs in 2008. That just can never happen,” said the head and partial owner of one of the slaughterplants. The four plants face legal action for failing to secure the required protection for pigs going to slaughter.

PIGS BOILED ALIVE AT SWEDISH MEAT PLANTS
The Local, March 17, 2009
http://www.thelocal.se/18258/20090317/

SWEDISH SLAUGHTERHOUSES FACE ACTION OVER SCALDED PIGS
The Earth Times, March 17, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/dmz6lq

 

6. WAKKER DIER TACKLING DUTCH VEAL CRATES

The Netherlands is Europe's largest veal-producing country. Nearly all supermarkets there have stopped selling veal made from crated calves, a mere six months after a consumer education campaign by the Dutch animal-protection group Wakker Dier. Supermarket managers “were convinced almost immediately after viewing the publicity material from Wakker Dier” and “stopped selling the pale veal within weeks from the start of the campaign in September 2008.” Late last year, the Dutch Advertising Code Commission sided with Wakker Dier that an ad campaign was false, in that the calves were not healthy, and ordered the veal industry to end it. In January, a major international supermarket chain teamed up with Van Drie, the world’s largest veal-producer, in announcing they would actively campaign throughout Europe against raising anemic calves (and see: http://tinyurl.com/c5cxhs). Two resisting supermarkets are being ‘named and shamed.’ The hospitality industry and small butchers also have yet to comply.

Wakker Dier now wants the transport of infant calves from Poland and Lithuania stopped, and criticizes veal production whereby calves are no longer anemic but “still suffer the same fate.” The organization’s hard-hitting but non-violent tactics are said to be gaining popular support elsewhere in Europe. Wakker Dier is credited with having succeeded in getting all Dutch supermarkets to stop selling battery eggs in 2004 (see #4 of: http://tinyurl.com/wlyg and: http://tinyurl.com/d24t6k), and, in 2008, ending castration without anesthesia for some 7 million pigs there annually (see: http://tinyurl.com/cnpzdf ).

DUTCH SHOPS BAN 'ANAEMIC VEAL' OVER ANIMAL RIGHTS CONCERNS
Digital Journal, Adriana Stuijt, March 15, 2009
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/269237#tab=comments&sc=0&local=

 

7. MRSA AND OTHER ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT BACTERIA

MRSA (“mersa”) stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as “flesh-eating bacteria.” It causes staph infections that are resistant to antibiotics (see: http://tinyurl.com/dyh2be ) and kills more Americans each year than die from AIDS. Pig farms appear to be a reservoir for a new strain called ST398. A small study found that Dutch pig farmers were 760 times more likely than the general population to carry MRSA, and it has been found in 12% of Dutch pig meat samples. In the U.S., one study found 45% of sampled pig farmers carried MRSA, while other research suggests that 25-39% of U.S. pigs carry it. Public health authorities are concerned that infection could be transmitted from pigs through human handlers, through their wastes seeping into ground water, or through meat. Five out of 90 samples of retail pig meat in Louisiana tested positive for MRSA. (Flies and poultry manure have also recently been implicated for the spread of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”: http://tinyurl.com/daf85n )

Antibiotic Use
“We don’t add antibiotics to baby food and Cocoa Puffs so that children get fewer ear infections… Yet we continue to allow agribusiness companies to add antibiotics to animal feed so that piglets stay healthy,” wrote New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof [ http://tinyurl.com/cszhbk ] in a recent two-part series on MRSA. He notes that an estimated 70% of all antibiotics in the U.S. are administered to farmed animals for non-medicinal purposes, remarking: “Unlike Europe and even South Korea, the United States still bows to agribusiness interests by permitting the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed… Legislation to ban the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture has always been blocked by agribusiness interests.”

The Infectious Diseases Society of America has declared antibiotic resistance a “public health crisis,” and the Medical Clinics of North America have concluded that antibiotics in farmed animal feed are “a major component” in the rise in antibiotic resistance. A new mathematical model suggests that agricultural antibiotic use may generate more antibiotic resistance than does hospital antibiotic use. Legislation addressing this is being reintroduced in Congress (see: http://tinyurl.com/cmkkez and http://tinyurl.com/d78n4j ). The Nation Pork Producers Council argues that such legislation would be detrimental to pigs, increase costs, and jeopardize public health: http://tinyurl.com/c4v8le.

What’s Needed
Kristof’s column “caused an immediate firestorm of panic in the pork industry” writes Eddie Gehman Kohan in his blog ObamaFoodarama. However, he contends that Kristof’s recommendation to legislate antibiotic use falls short: “Dismantling the agribusiness system that allows for massive CAFOS to flourish needs to happen, or there will be pandemic superbugs emerging at an even greater rate, even if overuse of antibiotics is stopped.” Kohan states that, in addition to encouraging smaller and mid-size farms, resolving the MRSA problem will entail “dismantling the influence of Big Pharma…dismantling the influence of Big Ag, and…making profound changes in what America believes are acceptable practices in farming. It's also about keeping Barack's pledge to no longer allow lobbyists to sway policy.”

OUR PIGS, OUR FOOD, OUR HEALTH
The New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof (Op-ed), March 12, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/opinion/12kristof.html?_r=1

PATHOGENS IN OUR PORK
The New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof (Op-ed), March 14, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/opinion/15kristof.html?_r=3

ANTIBIOTIC USE IN AGRICULTURE IS HELPING DRIVE ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE IN HUMANS, EXPERTS SAY
American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, Benjamin Somers, March 13, 2009
http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/0313antibiotic.shtml

NICHOLAS KRISTOF CALLS FOR OBAMA AND VILSACK TO END OVERUSE OF ANIMAL ANTIBIOTICS, BUT IT'S GOING TO TAKE MORE THAN THAT TO STOP SUPERBUGS
ObamaFoodarama (blog), Eddie Gehman Kohan, March 15, 2009
http://obamafoodorama.blogspot.com/2009/03/kristof-calls-for-end-to-overuse-of.html

 

8. EPA'S RURAL DUST DECISION UPHELD

A federal appeals court has denied an industry request to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider its decision to regulate dust in rural areas. In 2006, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) challenged EPA’s decision, arguing that no detrimental health effects had been shown to be associated with the dust. The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs "mistakenly equated an absence of certainty about dangerousness with the existence of certainty about safety," and said that the EPA was not required to wait for conclusive results before regulating a pollutant believed to pose a significant risk to public health.

“This isn’t just going to impact the existing producers,” said an NPPC spokesperson, “This is going to prevent new producers from moving into town…” An American Farm Bureau Federation representative remarked: "These dust standards are revised every five years, so it is difficult to predict the final impact of the ruling”: http://tinyurl.com/b6m3d5. Environmentalists contend that the EPA is right to err on the side of caution. The ruling can be read at (PDF link): http://tinyurl.com/dmytgh.

FEDERAL COURT UPHOLDS EPA'S RURAL DUST RULE
The New York Times, Robin Bravender, February 25, 2009
http://tinyurl.com/br5fmz

 

9. EPA MOVES AHEAD WITH EMISSIONS REGISTRY

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to establish a nationwide registry for reporting greenhouse gas emissions, including those from large confined animal-feeding operations. The program was drafted under the Bush administration but stalled after the Office of Management and Budget objected to it (see: http://tinyurl.com/dbdyos ).

In anticipation of the registry system, legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to prevent the EPA from requiring operating permits for U.S. agriculture operations under the Clean Air Act. Such permits would impose mandatory fees - referred to by agriculture interests as a “cow tax.” See also: http://tinyurl.com/cu2qs8 and: THE 'COW TAX': NOT NOW, MAYBE NOT EVER: http://tinyurl.com/cgtwmr (and see: PIG ODOR NO LAUGHING MATTER TO FOLKS WHO HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT: http://www.azstarnet.com/news/283076 ).

EPA PLANS U.S. REGISTRY OF GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, March 11, 2009
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/10/AR2009031001445.html

FARM BUREAU BACKS BILL BUCKING COSTLY COW TAX
Dairy Herd Management (source: Michigan Farm Bureau), March 5, 2009
http://www.dairyherd.com/directories.asp?pgID=675&ed_id=8264

 




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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.