Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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June 30 , 2006 -- Number 23, Volume 6


The ban on exporting British calves, imposed a decade ago due to “mad cow” disease, was lifted on March 8th. On May 5th, the practice of shipping calves to continental Europe to be raised for veal resumed. The Daily Mirror has teamed with Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) to publicize the fate of these animals, whom the newspaper says could soon number as many as 500,000. Investigators followed about 1,000 of the calves on a 600-mile journey from South Wales to Holland. Upon arrival there, calves are kept in the type of crate that was made illegal in the U.K. in 1990. Although the crates are to be banned throughout Europe in 2007, they will be replaced with a system that “still falls far short of the requirements under UK law.”

CIWF wants the live calf trade to be replaced with a meat trade, and for calves to be given bedding, adequate fiber and iron, and more space, preferably outdoors. A switch to cattle who can be used for both milk and meat is also being called for to prevent the dairy industry from treating male calves as “a waste product.” The UK government is uncomfortable about the exports but says that a unilateral ban on them would be illegal.

Exclusive: Return on the Vile Veal Trade
Daily Mirror, Ros Wynne-Jones, June 26, 2006


The Mendes Calf Ranch, which raises thousands of calves to be used for milk production, is being sued by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) for illegally confining them. ALDF cites a state law that requires that confined animals have "adequate exercise area." The state of California is also named as a defendant for failing to enforce the law and for giving tax breaks for the crates. ALDF has posted on its website a video which it says East Bay Animal Advocates (EBAA) filmed at the Mendes facility [this spring, per EBAA, during a tour offered by the World Ag Expo]. Two Stanford law students are co-plaintiffs, suing for harm they allege they suffered by purchasing and consuming illegally produced dairy products. University of California (U.C.) dairy advisors address the charges, and the articles give details about the calf production system.

Group Sues Mendes Calf Ranch in Tipton
The Fresno Bee, Lewis Griswold, June 20, 2006

ALDF Files Suit to Stop Abuse of Newborn Dairy Calves at California Ranch
Animal Legal Defense Fund, June 19, 2006


The June issue of Dairy Herd Management advises readers to “be a spokesperson for dairy,” urging them to “speak up and be passionate about what you do.” Explaining that “today’s consumer doesn’t realize that an agriculturalist is also an environmentalist and an animal-welfare expert,” it features a series of articles offering talking points on animal welfare, the environment, antibiotics and organic production. The magazine notes that “dairy producers generally take good care of their animals. but, over time, a few bad habits or chronic problems have developed.” It lists lameness, death loss, and bull-calf care. “Just because PETA hasn’t noticed these problems yet doesn’t mean they’re not a problem” cautions Colorado State University veterinarian Frank Garry. Realistic goals are given as lameness rates of 5% or less; herd mortality rates of 2%, and calf death loss rates of less than 1%. Monetary cost shouldn’t be the first and foremost factor in providing animal care, says U.C. animal-welfare specialist Carolyn Stull. Dairy producers need to manage their farms with the goal of total transparency, adds U.C. veterinarian Jim Reynolds. Dehorning, nonambulatory animals, mortality and euthanasia are among the matters discussed.

Top dairy firms are growing even larger due to continued acquisition, according to a new report from Leatherhead International (LFI) entitled Key Players in the Global Dairy Industry, which profiles the 34 leading companies:

How to Respond to Questions about Animal Welfare
Dairy Herd Management, Shirley Roenfeldt, June 1, 2006


Arizonans for Humane Farms, a coalition of animal protection organizations, environmentalists, food safety organizations, and concerned citizens, is promoting a ballot initiative that would “outlaw the cruel and intensive confinement of pregnant pigs and veal calves on industrialized factory farms.” In addition to changing conditions at the one large pig production facility in Arizona, the coalition hopes to prevent other such pig or veal operations from opening in the state. In order to qualify for the November elections, campaigners need to obtain 120,000 voter signatures by July 6th.

The Arizona Farm Bureau’s Jim Klinker resents the assistance the initiative is receiving from groups outside of the state. He criticizes its supporters for not having seen a modern pig operation and the conditions in which the pigs are kept. The Bureau’s primary concern about the initiative is that it would cause negative economic effects on the Arizona meat industry. Klinker argues that its passage would result in companies moving to countries with lower health standards. Stephanie Nichols-Young, president of the Animal Defense League of Arizona, counters that the initiative includes a six-year phase-in period to allow producers to meet the new standards as they replace aging equipment due to wear and tear. The article also considers the initiative from a religious perspective.

Arizona Catholic Fights for Humane Farming Initiative
The Catholic Sun, Rebecca Bostic, June 25, 2006


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has announced that it plans to eliminate “mad cow” disease from the country within the next decade by banning high-risk tissue from all farmed animal and companion animal food and from fertilizers by July 12, 2007. Though Canada (and the U.S.) banned the inclusion of ruminant protein in cattle food in 1997, it was still permitted in pig, chicken and horse food. Concerns that cattle could be infected through cross-contamination prompted the new prohibition.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) stated that “Preparatory work was essential to ensure that an enhanced feed ban would be effective, enforceable, environmentally sustainable and economically feasible.” Meat Processing magazine editor Chris Harris writes that the rest of the world should have learned from Europe’s experience with the disease in the 1980’s & `90’s but instead failed to take preventive action. “It should not have taken three years for countries such as Canada to frame their own feed bans, he writes, “The evidence and the science were before them and action should have been taken immediately.” Referring to CFIA’s statement, Harris admonishes that “to bring economic feasibility into the question when a potential risk to human health is raised is both callous and nonsensical.” He suggests that a worldwide ban on high-risk tissue be imposed by the World Organization for Animal Health and Codex.

New Canada Rules Aim to Eradicate Mad Cow Disease
Reuters, Marcy Nicholson, June 26, 2006

Meat Processing, Chris Harris, June 28, 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.