Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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NOVEMBER 30 , 2007 -- Number 33, Volume 7


The results of a farmed animal welfare survey commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation were recently released. Conducted last summer by Oklahoma State University’s department of agricultural economics, the nationwide telephone survey consisted of 48 questions put to some 1,000 consumers. Respondents rated the importance of farm animal welfare last in comparison to poverty, health care, food safety, the environment, the financial well-being of U.S. farmers, and food prices. However, 95% said it was important to them that animals on farms are well cared for (81% agreed that farmed animals have roughly the same ability to feel pain and discomfort as humans), and 76% disagreed that low meat prices are more important than the well-being of these animals. While the majority believed their personal food choices have a large impact on farmed animal well-being, 68% responded that government should take an active role in promoting farm animal welfare and 75% said they would vote for a law in their state requiring farmers to treat animals better. When asked if keeping chickens in cages or pregnant pigs in crates is humane, 55% and 64% respectively disagreed that it is. The full report can be accessed at:

"It was a little surprising the extent to which the issue of humane treatment of animals is ingrained and widespread in our society," Don Lipton, director of public relations for the Farm Bureau, told Meat & Poultry (see: ), "There’s a lot of interest in this." In another industry publication, the researchers remarked: One [“innovative”] question attempted to measure the value of farm animals relative to a human. If a technology were developed that could either eliminate the suffering of one human or more than 11,500 farm animals, most respondents said it should reduce the suffering of the farm animals. Conversely, if the technology could address the suffering of one human or fewer than 11,500 farm animals, most respondents chose to reduce the suffering of the one human. What does this imply? Simply that for the average American, the suffering of one human is equivalent to the suffering of 11,500 farm animals.

Feedstuffs Foodlink; Bailey Norwood, Jayson Lusk and Robert Prickett; Oct. 8, 2007



Most consumers are profound hypocrites," said Wes Jamison, "They want to have their meat and take it to the vet, too." Jamison, a University of Florida public relations researcher and professor, was referring to the inconsistent ways in which consumers consider animals (see: ). His presentation, entitled "Public Relations Strategies for Dealing with the Animal Welfare Issue," was delivered to an estimated 200 people gathered this week for the Michigan Farm Bureau convention. He offered a single strategy: that farmers "come up with a moral basis of why what you do is the right thing to do, in the right way." Jamison attributed the growing clash between animal agriculture and animal advocacy to urbanization, anthropomorphism, the theory of evolution and equal rights. Using class trips as an example, he noted that children may visit farms but not slaughterplants. “Why?” he said: “Because we intuitively know society has changed, and we try to hide what we do from society.” Jamison advised presenting the actuality of the industry in a proud and matter-of-fact way: “We need to say 'You know what? It takes the death of something for you to live, and we are unashamed.’”

Also this week, Steve Kopperud told attendees at the Arkansas Farm Bureau convention that farmers and ranchers need to directly confront animal-welfare activists. Kopperud, an executive with the lobbying firm Policy Directions, is also affiliated with other organizations that promote animal agriculture entities. He urged that different species production groups unite: “If it walks, bleats, clucks, we kill it and we eat it, it has to be part of the alliance.” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) is the “greatest threat” to animal agriculture, according to Kopperud. Pacelle disagrees, explaining: “To us it’s not about animal rights, it’s about human responsibility. These animals are killed for human consumption, and the least we can do is give them a decent life and not subject them to torment and privation that causes them enormous distress.” In particular, he said HSUS is concerned about the use of battery cages, pig gestation crates, and the crates used to house calves raised for veal. Pacelle mentioned that HSUS has also filed suit to have poultry covered by the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Kopperud counters that their exclusion from it is sound. “We are critical to everybody’s quality of life, and we have no record of abuse or neglect that is sufficient to warrant federal intervention in what we do and how well we do it,” he said.

The Grand Rapids Press, Morgan Jarema, November 29, 2007

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nancy Cole, November 30, 2007



“The deeper that science drills into the substrata of behavior, the harder it becomes to preserve the vanity that we are unique among Earth's creatures,” states Jeffrey Kluger in a Time magazine cover story entitled What Makes Us Moral. What does or should separate humans from other animals is a highly developed sense of morality, with empathy being the deepest basis of it, Kluger writes. He goes on to note, however, that empathy is an attribute also present in other species. The human paradox, according to Kluger, is that while humans are “the highest, wisest, most principled species the planet has produced…we're also the lowest, cruelest, most blood-drenched species…” He claims that our biggest challenges are when we are in a position to behave morally toward others as we would toward members of “our tribe.” Kluger concludes: “For grossly imperfect creatures like us, morality may be the steepest of all developmental mountains. Our opposable thumbs and big brains gave us the tools to dominate the planet, but wisdom comes more slowly than physical hardware. We surely have a lot of killing and savagery ahead of us before we fully civilize ourselves…”

Time, Jeffrey Kluger with Tiffany Sharples and Alexandra Silver, Nov. 21, 2007,28804,1685055_1685076_1686619,00.html



Popular books about the safety and humaneness of the food supply, and, in particular, controversies over the nation’s largest kosher slaughterplant (see: ), have generated interest among the Jewish community in organic and free-range kosher products. Simon Feil, founder of New York’s Kosher Conscience, recently “cradled” the first turkey killed for the new kosher meat cooperative. “You really watch something that is a living creature turn into meat,” he remarked. The personal involvement in slaughtering animals is raising thorny questions. “‘Meat’ is a word we use to partially shield ourselves from the fact that we are eating a dead animal,” said Nigel Savage, who received one of the turkeys from the cooperative. Savage is the founder of Hazon, an organization dedicated to examining Judaism and food. Prior to reading Michael Pollan’s writings (see item #5), Savage believed that eating meat was wrong. At a Hazon conference this December, three goats are to be slaughtered to show attendees where meat comes from (see: ). Hazon organizers are attempting to deal with the tense controversy over animal slaughter. Meanwhile, the founder of Kosher Organic Local Foods had her children participate in the slaughter of sixty chickens for Thanksgiving.

JTA, Sue Fishkoff, Nov. 27, 2007


The Jewish Daily Forward, Nathaniel Popper, Nov. 21, 2007



“If you cause the death of animals through your dietary choices, you ought to be willing to pull the trigger…There's a reason people like me let others do their killing for them. We're cowards and hypocrites. Not to mention fools,” states writer Bill Lueders, who, inspired by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma (see: ), sought to “know” and slaughter a turkey for Thanksgiving. He details why, in the process, he found that “for most turkeys and chickens raised in America, there are worse things than death.” Regarding slaughter, he quotes Pollan: "No other country raises and slaughters its food animals quite as intensively or as brutally as we do…The industrial animal factory offers a nightmarish glimpse of what capitalism is capable of in the absence of any moral or regulatory constraint."

Lueders enlists a Wisconsin organic farmer, Ken Wulf (article includes photo), who obtains free-range turkeys from an Amish farmer to help him fulfill his quest. The pertinent background and current circumstances of both men are elaborated. Visiting the Amish operation (see also: ), Lueders observes: “Turkeys are friendly and social. In nature, they'll spend their first five months — longer than most of those raised for meat are allowed to live — glued to their moms. They have distinct personalities and can recognize human faces.”

Subsequently, they prepare to kill one of the birds: “Wulf grabbed the turkey by the neck and it reacted violently, thrashing its wings and jabbing its legs in all directions. He set it on the ground, holding down its neck with his hand and its body with his knee. He called me over to take his place. The bird tried to push upward and I was astounded by its strength. I had to squat on top of it to keep it still. A moment later, Wulf was back with the paring knife. Lueders had been told what to expect: “I'd hold my bird's head and body down to the ground. I'd put a paring knife in its mouth and cut the back of its throat. Then I'd hang on…while its lifeblood spurted out. ‘You'll be able to feel it," Wulf said. ‘When the last heartbeat goes, you'll know it's dead.’”

Lueders continues: “But could I really kill this animal? And for what? So I could have a tasty meal? My son is a vegetarian; so are some of my friends. They manage to eat without animals dying. Why can't I? None of these thoughts occurred to me. There wasn't time. I started inserting the knife, then hesitated. ‘Ken?’ He took the knife from my hand and plunged it in, severing the arteries at the back of the throat. ‘I don't want the animal to suffer,’ he said, by way of explanation.” Examining the organs as they eviscerate the turkey, Wulf notes that he had been “just a young boy.” Later, viewing photographs he had taken, Lueders comments: “…the experience left me neither pleased nor proud. And when I saw the photos I took of the prostrate bird, blood dripping from its mouth, I felt sickened, and ashamed.”

The Daily Page, Bill Lueders, Nov. 21, 2007



Nearly 96,000 pounds of ground beef were recalled after two people were sickened, possibly by E. coli, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced over the Thanksgiving weekend. It is but one in a series of recent such recalls (see: ). American Foods Group voluntarily recalled the beef, which had been distributed for further processing and for repackaging without the company’s identification number. The meat, distributed in seven states, was made on October 10th. By the time of the recall, some of the recommended “use-by” dates had already expired.

Associated Press, Nov. 25, 2007 l



“What does the federal mark of meat and poultry inspection really mean?” asks industry publication Meat & Poultry’s Steve Krut, “…for the small plant, retailer, wholesaler or grinder that receives [meat], it means that if a problem is detected with this product once it is in their shop or after they sell it, they will be held responsible and suffer the consequences.” Krut says that even when E. coli or Salmonella is found, FSIS has made this its starting point and too often its resolution point “[e]ven though it is unreasonable to assume that the enteric problem originated in a facility that does not slaughter.” Krut states that “For more than a decade, FSIS [the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service] has played the eunuch in such instances,” noting that this approach wastes time and allows more potentially contaminated product to be consumed.

Krut says the agency claims its officials are not adequately trained to trace problems back to their source, and that it may waste months avoiding the likely truth. “Train the officials,” he says, advising that “…it will be only slower line speeds, closer physical inspection, new technology and serious, prompt tracebacks” that will improve the matter.” Krut concludes: “But until animal science develops a foolproof way of eliminating these pathogens from the livestock as they are raised, as much as we hate to admit it, the label may state that it is ‘inspected and passed’ but the realists will continue to read between the lines. Emperor still wears no clothes and the truth is still bare on this controversy.”


Meat & Poultry contributor Temple Grandin (see: ) tells that on a recent trip to New Zealand she saw remarkably healthier cows than are in the U.K. or the U.S. There, she explains, the majority of dairies do not house cows in stalls or dirt lots but instead allow them to graze on green grass. Many cattle raised for the beef trade are also fattened on grass there.

Meat & Poultry, (Opinion), Steve Krut, November 29, 2007

Meat & Poultry, Temple Grandin, November 16, 2007

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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.