Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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May 11, 2006 -- Number 16, Volume 6


Following the end of a decade-long European Union (EU) ban on British cattle and beef exports (see FAW Number 15, Volume 6), the first shipment of calves was sent to Holland and Belgium this week to be raised for veal. The ban, instituted because of BSE, had halted the thriving trade (up to 500,000 live calves were once exported to Europe annually). Calves, mostly from the dairy industry, have instead been shot soon after birth. Protests have also resumed, with animal protection advocates concerned about the suffering caused by the journeys and by using veal crates, which are banned in the U.K. Use of the crates is to stop in the EU next year. While the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs says it would prefer calves be slaughtered within the country, a complete ban on calf exports has been deemed illegal. The U.K. is proposing new rules for animal welfare during transport.

British Veal Calf Exports Resume
BBC News, May 5, 2006

Protests as Exports of Veal Calves Resume
The Scotsman, Fordyce Maxwell, May 6, 2006


North Carolina’s 165 million chickens and turkeys outnumber the state’s 9.5 million pigs. Yet while the state regulates pollution by the pig industry, the poultry industry is essentially unregulated. This is because most poultry farms do not use lagoons. Instead, manure is removed from the buildings about once a year and used as fertilizer. Neighbors have no legal recourse even if feathers, manure or bad odors spew onto their property. And while new pig farms have been banned there since 1997, the chicken industry has grown steadily. Since poultry farms do not need permits, water pollution laws pertaining to them are largely unenforced because the state’s Division of Water Quality does not know where most are located. Poultry waste has been identified as a major source of water pollution by other states along the Chesapeake Bay, and several have permitting systems for poultry.

State and city officials are beginning to use the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (the “Superfund law”) to target farms polluting rivers and streams with manure. Waco, Texas and the state of Oklahoma have filed lawsuits against a group of dairy producers and several poultry producers respectively for the contamination caused by their facilities. Claiming they already have enough federal and state laws and permits to deal with, agribusiness producers are retaliating with a House bill that seeks to shield them from the Superfund law by exempting manure from being considered a “hazardous substance.” Many farms have signed up for a temporary amnesty deal while the government studies farm emissions. Looking for a compromise, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) suggests allowing farmers to protect themselves from legal action by following manure management plans and conservation practices. Farmers who apply fertilizer properly are already exempted from the Superfund law. Environmentalists argue that toxic chemicals are the same whether they come from a farm or a factory, and that farms may produce even greater emissions of chemicals such as ammonia.

Fowl Smells Ruffling Feathers
The News & Observer, Kristin Collins, April 24, 2006

Brasher: Stink Rises in Ag Circles Over Pollution Lawsuits
The Des Moines Register, Philip Brasher, May 7, 2006


Sonoma Foie Gras is taking Whole Foods Market to court, accusing the company of “intentional interference with contract” by demanding that supplier Grimaud Farms end its 8-year partnership. Sonoma says it cannot operate without Grimaud to provide and process the Moulard ducks used to make its product. It is seeking unstated compensatory and punitive damages. A judge has denied Whole Food’s request to have punitive damages removed from the suit, and has said she will also deny its motion to dismiss the entire complaint. Approximately 20% of Grimaud Farm's revenue comes from its partnership with Sonoma Foie Gras. For the past decade, Grimaud has also provided Muscovy ducks to Whole Foods for retail sale, accounting for 15% of its revenue. Whole Foods and Grimaud both agree that Grimaud’s association with the processing and distribution of foie gras is incompatible with Whole Food’s new Animal Compassionate Standards and deny there was any ultimatum. Whole Foods has not carried foie gras since 1997 because of the cruelty associated with the process. Foie gras has been banned in California and Chicago , and Philadelphia is considering banning the product. The newly formed North American Foie Gras Producers Association is examining the constitutionality of such bans.

Foie Gras Company’s Fate in Hands of Court
The Press Democrat, Mary Callahan, May 6, 2006

Organizing for an Indelicate Fight
The New York Times, Marian Burros, May 3, 2006


At the annual American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention this summer, members will vote to determine whether money or the humane treatment of animals is a more important priority. The resolution, proposed by Farm Sanctuary, states that “veterinarians have an ethical obligation to promote animal welfare” but that sometimes “the economic priorities of animal industries may be in conflict with the welfare of animals.” It concludes that veterinarians must “place a higher priority on animal welfare when required to choose between animal welfare and economic considerations.” The issue qualified for formal consideration when resolutions signed by over 200 veterinarians were sent to the AVMA last month.

The AVMA has a mixed record on animal welfare resolutions (and see p.5). In January 2005, it established an Animal Welfare Division to “monitor the science of animal welfare and assist the Association in proactively addressing developing issues of animal well-being.” Animal welfare was designated as one of the top five strategic issues for the next 1 to 3 years. At the same time, the Executive Board also voted to discontinue the annual Animal Welfare Forum, citing its failure to generate enough media attention.

American Veterinary Medical Association Asked to Prioritize What is More Important: Animal Welfare or Money?
Farm Sanctuary, May 3, 2006

AVMA Creates Animal Welfare Division
The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, January 15, 2005


New Zealand’s Parliament Regulations Review Committee has recommended to the Government that the Layer Hen Code be rewritten to comply with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and a date be set for phasing out the use of battery cages in egg production. The Code was written by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Council, which claimed there was inadequate evidence that enriched cages or alternative hen housing systems would improve welfare conditions for the birds. The Animal Rights Legal Advocacy Network complained that the Code did not comply with the AWA, which recommends animals be able to exercise normal patterns of behavior. The Committee determined the Council had wrongly used legal provisions concerning “exceptional circumstances” to delay setting a time frame for phasing out the cages and identifying an alternative. The Pigs Code is to be similarly examined regarding sow stalls. The Consumers’ Right to Know (Food Information) Bill, now before Parliament, would require eggs from caged hens be labeled as such and food be labeled with the country of origin.

Parliamentary Call for Tighter Hen Code
Radio New Zealand, May 10, 2006

As Compassionate Consumers President Adam Durand went on trial last week for charges by Wegmans Food Markets (see FAW Number 15, Volume 6 ), Animal Rights International tried to run a full-page advertisement with the headline “Did Your Wegmans Egg Share a Cage With a Corpse?” in a Rochester, N.Y. newspaper. However, the publisher deemed the ad, which featured a photo of a decomposed hen in a cage with live hens, distasteful in light of the fact that family patriarch Robert Wegman died recently. The group was asked to remove the photo, but they declined to do so and the ad did not run. Durand says the group’s fight to stop Wegmans from raising hens in cages will continue and he plans to distribute a second film that includes information about his legal battles. An extensive article about the trial is available on-line.

Hen Activist Says the War on Cages Will Go On
The New York Times, Michelle York, May 7, 2006

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Compiled and edited by Cat Carroll and 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.