Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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May 19, 2006 -- Number 17, Volume 6


Organic meat sales grew 55% in 2005, according to an Organic Trade Association survey conducted by the Nutrition Business Journal. A nationwide poll of over 1,000 Americans by Whole Foods Market may explain the former statistic, showing that 65% of consumers want a guarantee that meat and poultry products are raised humanely without hormones or antibiotics and 61% want this compliance to be labeled. These standards are a key factor in deciding where to shop for meat, according to 51% of respondents. The same percentage said they were "not sure" when asked if they had ever purchased products meeting those standards.

Whole Foods' Edmund LaMacchia said: "The results of this survey tell us that Americans are lacking information about the way their meat and poultry is raised and that having more information is nearly as important as the flavor of the meat they purchase." He added that it also proved there is a strong demand for "natural meat" raised with "specific standards for humane treatment through the life of the animal." The survey determined that flavor, safety and humane treatment of animals are the top reasons for choosing high-quality meat and poultry.

Meanwhile, the number of feeder and slaughter cattle coming into the U.S. from Canada during the first four months of this year is about 40% above the average between 1999 and 2003. One explanation for this trend is to allow Canadian beef plants to process more of the older animals who have built up in numbers because they are not allowed to enter the U.S.

Organic Beef Sales Continue to Explode, Cow-Calf Weekly, Troy Marshall, May 12, 2006
(Not available online)

National Survey Reveals 80 Percent of Americans Eat Meat More Than Three Times per Week
PR Newswire, Whole Foods Market, May 9, 2006

News Briefs, Meat News, May 10, 2006


Expanded horse rescue efforts and the expiration of Reagan-era tax benefits that encouraged the breeding of thoroughbred horses have caused the number of horses slaughtered in the U.S. to drop significantly since 1990 when over 300,000 were killed. Last year, some 88,000 horses were slaughtered here. The three remaining slaughter plants, two in Texas and one in Illinois, are under pressure from several sources demanding Congress shut them down. Polls last year showed 70% to 90% of Americans are opposed to killing horses for meat (which is exported from U.S. plants to Europe and Japan).

While a spending bill was passed last year to eliminate funding for the required federal inspections of the plants, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) accepted an offer by the plants to pay for their own inspectors. A coalition of animal protection groups took the USDA to court, but the judge upheld the agency's decision. The groups are considering an appeal in addition to pushing for other solutions, such as asking a federal appeals court to uphold a Texas state law that bans the sale of horsemeat and working for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (which would permanently ban horse slaughter for human consumption).

A surplus amount of unwanted horses is one reason some groups support horse slaughter, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and some rescue groups. A 2005 law mandating the roundup and sale of wild horses older than 10 years of age, in addition to the recent purging of horses used to make Premarin, has added to the problem. Euthanizing a horse costs between $75 and $150, and disposing of the body when it cannot be buried, costs at least $250. Sending a horse to slaughter, however, nets an average $500 profit. Others say horse abuse will increase if the animals cannot be slaughtered, since some owners may turn their horses loose or abandon them. Horses may also instead be shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter, though costs may limit that option. The arguments for and against various ways of disposing of horses are considered in this issue of E magazine.

The High-Stakes Battle over Horse Slaughter, E Magazine, Jim Motavalli, May/June 2006

The Killing Floor: Three Slaughterhouses Marked the End of the Road for 88,000 American Horses in 2005. But it's Europeans Who Are Eating the Meat. E Magazine, Josh Harkinson, May/June 2006


A bill to classify dogs as "farm products" was passed by the Iowa legislature during its last session. Animal protection advocates worry that dogs being bred will have less legal protection since anti-cruelty laws for farmed animals are not as strict. The state's 400 dog breeders are behind the bill, which would give them tax breaks. Since the omnibus bill would overhaul the mental health care system, the Governor's office says it is likely that he will sign it. Opponents are pushing for Governor Vilsack to line item veto the section of the bill pertaining to dogs.

Dog Livestock?, WHOtv, May 9, 2006


About 5% of Applebee's International Inc. shareholders recently showed support for a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) proposal to require the company to provide shareholders reports on the method used by suppliers to slaughter chickens. Applebee's asked shareholders to vote against the proposal, claiming it is dedicated to the "proper and humane handling of all animals in its supply chain." Falling short of last year's 6% support for a similar measure, the proposal still earned enough votes to allow PETA to resubmit it again next year.

Applebee's Shareholders Reject PETA Motion on Chickens, The Kansas City Star, Jennifer Mann, May 11, 2006


Large animals are a shrinking part of some rural veterinarians' practices - in many cases, most of the livestock they do treat are family horses - as suburbia paves its way over farmland across the country. The American Veterinary Medical Association shows the trend is national: the number of veterinary offices dedicated mostly or completely to treating small animals has risen from 62% in 1980 to 74% in 2005. Looking at lifestyles, salaries and social factors, many new vets who originally planned to go into a rural area livestock practice may end up focusing on small animals. Economics is perhaps the largest factor, since small pet owners are more likely to spend larger amounts of money on their animals than livestock owners, who are raising their animals for a profit. Those who do choose to treat livestock doing so because they want to be a part of "the rural life."

Out of the Barn, Into the Home: More Rural Vets are Shifting Practices from Dairy Cows to their Cash Cows: Family Pets, The Dallas Morning News, Jim Getz, May 7, 2006


June 8-10: The National Pork Producers Council's 2006 World Pork Expo will take place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The Expo features 500 swine industry exhibitors, educational seminars and a marketing information center, as well as a new environmental center and job fair/career center. To learn more, visit

June 14-15: The United Egg Producers' Avian Influenza Preparedness Workshop will take place in Atlanta, Georgia. To register, contact Linda Reickard at For more information, visit

June 22-24: The 6th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics will take place in Oslo, Norway. The conference will take a multi-disciplinary look at farmed animal welfare, food consumption, food safety, global trade and related matters. For details about the conference and call for papers, visit

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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.