The prices of wheat, corn, rice and other grains have doubled or tripled in the past few years, sparking food riots in some parts of the globe. The rising prices have been caused by “a combination of long-term trends, bad luck — and bad policy,” explains writer Paul Krugman in a New York Times op-ed entitled “Grains Gone Wild.” Krugman points to the increasingly meat-based diets of people in Westernizing nations, “Since it takes about 700 calories’ worth of animal feed [largely grain] to produce a 100-calorie piece of beef” (see item #2). He also blames rising energy costs, bad weather conditions and “politicians and governments that have stood in the way of action on greenhouse gases.”
Krugman agrees with a recent Time magazine article that “the subsidized conversion of crops into fuel [which] was supposed to promote energy independence and help limit global warming” is a “scam.” Several recent studies show the biofuel boom is actually accelerating global warming. It also occupies land that could be used to grow food. Meanwhile, grain reserves have been allowed to dwindle. Last year the U.S. produced 7 billion gallons of biofuel at a taxpayer cost of at least $8 billion. In December, President Bush signed an energy bill to dramatically increase support to the industry and mandating 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022. Worldwide, investment in biofuels rose from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2010.
GRAINS GONE WILD
The New York Times (op-ed), Paul Krugman, April 7, 2008
THE CLEAN ENERGY SCAM
Time, Michael Grunwald, March 27, 2008
HIGHER GRAIN PRICES ALTER PREDICTED MEAT PRODUCTION
The U.S. biofuels policy (see item #1), whereby grains and other crops are converted to fuel, is costing the farmed animal industries billions of dollars per year in higher feed costs, according to a study commissioned by the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation and the American Meat Institute. The FarmEcon LLC study predicts the policy will cost the poultry industries about $8 billion in additional feed costs for the 2008/2009 year, on top of the $6 billion increase the previous year. Feed costs for the pig industry are forecast to cost about $3.6 billion more for 2008/2009, and the “fed cattle” industry feed costs are expected to increase nearly $3 billion for that period. The complete report can be accessed at: http://tinyurl.com/5sf3rz. See also: HIGH CORN PRICES BECOMING A DRAG FOR FEEDLOTS: http://tinyurl.com/5lq372 and see: SOYBEAN AND LIVESTOCK GO HAND IN HAND: http://tinyurl.com/6yoapu.
USDA forecasts of poultry production for 2008 have been reduced due to predicted grain prices and indications of lowered hatchery output production. However, the forecast for total 2008 U.S. meat production was raised since expected cattle and pig production more than offset lower forecast “broiler” chicken production. The full report can be viewed at (NOTE: PDF): http://tinyurl.com/5ftcx3. Some smaller chicken companies have already begun cutting their output (see: http://tinyurl.com/6c6x53 and http://tinyurl.com/6bh3wr ). Meanwhile, the American Farm Bureau Federation is appealing to the government to bail out the pig industry by purchasing more pig meat as prices for it dip to record lows. See also: http://tinyurl.com/6po89o
BIOFUELS POLICIES COST POULTRY, LIVESTOCK AND ETHANOL INDUSTRIES BILLIONS, STUDY SAYS
Meating Place, Janie Gabbett, April 8, 2008
USDA SEES LESS CORN, MORE MEAT
Meating Place, Janie Gabbett, April 10, 2008
U.S. PORK PRODUCERS NEED U.S.D.A.'S HELP
Meat & Poultry, Bryan Salvage, April 9, 2008
MORE ANIMAL-HANDLING PROBLEMS FOUND AT SLAUGHTER
Animal-handling problems were found at four of 18 plants licensed to supply beef for federal food assistance programs (see also: http://tinyurl.com/55m6su ). The audit, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection System (FSIS), was triggered by the Hallmark recall (see: http://tinyurl.com/563qae ). Twelve of the facilities slaughter primarily “cull” cows or veal calves, and six slaughter primarily young cattle.
At one plant, cows were not effectively stunned with an initial attempt, as is required by law. Operations there were suspended but for less than half a day. (A spokesperson for the American Meat Institute said the stunning requirement is impossible to meet every time.) Problems at three other plants included overcrowding, bunching, and excessive electric prod use. Each plant received noncompliance reports but inspection was not suspended. A fifth plant received a Letter of Concern regarding the use of high-powered hoses to wash live cattle. In it, FSIS urged that care be taken to avoid causing the animals undue stress or excitement.
Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said all of the problems have been corrected but he would not identify the plants. Based on the audit, Schafer said the matter of non-ambulatory cattle getting into the food supply appeared to be limited to the Hallmark slaughterplant. The USDA’s proposed budget includes a $22 million increase for FSIS. However, a new report by OMB Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog group, contends that more money hasn't helped FSIS keep up with the increasing volume of meat. The USDA is considering stricter requirements for such licensed slaughterplants, and will present an action plan in the near future: http://tinyurl.com/5tkfgb.
IN WAKE OF BEEF RECALL, MORE SLAUGHTERHOUSES FOUND TO HAVE PROBLEMS
The Press-Enterprise, Ben Goad, April 8, 2008
USDA AUDITS HUMANE HANDLING AT 18 SLAUGHTER PLANTS, TAKES ACTION ON FIVE
Meating Place, Janie Gabbett, April 9, 2008
STOCKYARDS IN DECLINE
Once the "world's largest livestock market" (from 1974 to 1981), the South St. Paul [Minnesota] Stockyards held its final cattle sale on April 11th. Stockyards across the U.S. have been on a steady decline as meat companies increasingly deal directly with suppliers. Stockyards have also been competing with video auctions on the Internet. Animals who would have gone to the St. Paul facility could instead go to one of four other such facilities the same company owns in Minnesota or the Dakotas. See also: http://tinyurl.com/59p6g3
MINNESOTA CATTLE YARD TO CLOSE AFTER 120 YEARS
Reuters, Alyce Hinton with Matthew Lewis, April 8, 2008
GAO FAULTS GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS FOR BISON SLAUGHTER
Federal and Montana state agencies were criticized in a government report for failing to stop the slaughter of bison leaving Yellowstone National Park (see: http://tinyurl.com/6qg7va ). The Government Accountability Office pointed out that, despite a 2000 agreement and nearly $16 million spent on bison management since then plus another $13 million spent on land and conservation easements in an area outside the park, the land remains off limit to bison. More than 3,200 bison have been killed since the agreement was signed. This year, more than a third of the park population was slaughtered, leaving an estimated 3,000 survivors. The report noted that the program has managed to keep the bison away from cattle, as a safeguard against the transmission of brucellosis. A spokesperson for the Montana Stockgrowers Association was also critical of the National Park Service. The agency said it will release a draft environmental study on the program later this year.
REPORT FAULTS BISON SLAUGHTER PROGRAM
The New York Times/Associated Press, April 3, 2008
BILL TO MAKE COCKFIGHTING A FELONY AT “MECCA”
Louisiana is set to ban cockfighting in August, making it the last state to ban the activity. It is a felony offense in 37 states and the District of Columbia (see: http://tinyurl.com/2rtony ). However, stronger laws in other states have made Tennessee a “mecca for cockfighting mavens,” say supporters of a bill to make it a felony there. The legislation goes before the General Assembly after having been unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 8th. The legislation seeks to increase the penalty for participating in cockfighting from a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, to a Class E felony, punishable by a term of one to six years in prison and a fine of $3,000. The bill would also raise the penalty for spectators from a Class C misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine, to a Class A misdemeanor.
A Nashville City Paper editorial states: “Legislation before the General Assembly would elevate cockfighting to a felony, hopefully deterring its proliferation in our state any more. Lawmakers should support the measure and see it passed. In fact, the Legislature could stand to revisit most of the state’s laws on the issue of animal cruelty and potential remedies.” The Midwest City Sun recently published a detailed article on the status of cockfighting in the U.S. and abroad: http://tinyurl.com/5tkdvu.
COCKFIGHTING STILL PREVALENT, FBI AGENT SAYS
Knoxville News Sentinel, Tom Humphrey, April 9, 2008
COCKFIGHTING BILL SHOULD STIFLE ANIMAL CRUELTY
The City Paper, April 10, 2008
THE INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON GLOBAL ASPECTS OF FARM ANIMAL WELFARE will be held April 22-23 in Brussels with the objective of beginning the process of developing a global strategy for the welfare of farmed animals. The Forum will consider initiatives from around the world. A half day will be reserved for informal networking, and a round-table discussion is planned to identify elements of future policy. The outcome will be employed for the OIE conference in October, and then for the January 2009 Conference on Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare being organized by the European Commission, RSPCA, WSPA, Compassion In World Farming and Eurogroup for Animals. More info at: http://www.animalwelfareandtrade.com/index.php
WORLD PORK EXPO, organized by the National Pork Producers Council, will be held June 5-7, 2008 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. This year will be “the event’s 20th anniversary of serving as the world’s largest trade show for the pork industry.” More info at: http://www.worldpork.org
THEIR LIVES, OUR VOICES, “the Midwest's premiere animal advocacy conference,” seeks to bring together individuals from across the region for a hands-on, high-quality conference with a focus on farmed animal advocacy efforts. The event, to be held June 6-8 in Minneapolis, Mn., will include “dynamic presentations by leaders in the national and regional animal advocacy movement, which will provide you with practical information on activist approaches and skills.” Presentation proposals are still being accepted by Compassionate Action for Animals, which is organizing the event. More information at: http://www.tlov.org/tlov2008/
THE UNWANTED HORSE ISSUE: WHAT NOW? Is the title of a one-day public meeting by the U.S. Department of Agriculture “to use a balanced set of speakers to identify known information, areas of needed information, and possible solutions in the area of unwanted horses.” The June 18th event, to be held in Washington, D.C., will include opportunity for brief questions and comments from those in attendance. Additional information (NOTE PDF) at: http://tinyurl.com/6cnjaq
XXIII WORLD'S POULTRY CONGRESS will be held June 29 to July 4 in Queensland, Australia. More information at: http://www.wpc2008.com
TAKING ACTION FOR ANIMALS “is an annual conference and trade show that brings together seasoned animal activists as well as those just beginning their journey into the world of animal protection.” The event, to be held July 19-21 in Arlington, Va., “will include a variety of topics and a special focus on the theme of ‘Politics and Public Policy for Animals.’” Keynote sessions will be complemented by training sessions, along with Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, exhibitions, social events and networking opportunities. More information at: http://www.takingactionforanimals.com
ANIMAL RIGHTS 2008 NATIONAL CONFERENCE billed as “the world’s largest and oldest animal rights conference,” is to include: 100 plenaries, workshops, “raps,” and reports by 90 speakers from 60 animal protection groups in nine countries and presentations by leaders of other social justice movements. Sessions on personal skills, activism, organizing, and outreach are planned, along with newcomer orientation, networking receptions, videos and exhibits. The event will take place August 14-18th in Alexandria, Va. More information is at: http://www.arconference.org