Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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June 1 , 2006 -- Number 19, Volume 6


“They are a pathetic sight. Where there should be ivory-white feathers, there are spiky quills and tattered grey coats. The birds in the lower tiers are caked with feces from the cages above. Below the towers of cages, a displaced hen squats helplessly on a manure pile. Another lies dead in the aisle. Everything is cloaked in filth.” A detailed article in The Aquarian includes this description of “The Truth About Canada's Egg Industry," documentary footage, edited by the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA) and the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS), of a commercial egg production facility in Guelph, Ontario. “This is a life sentence with no parole," the video opines. "Their only escape is slaughter.”

Lloyd Weber, owner of the facility, is a veterinarian and a member of the Dean's Veterinary Advisory Council of the University of Guelph, one of Canada's leading agricultural colleges. Prior to the expose, LEL Farms had been a tour site for agriculture students. Weber claims the operation adheres to the Canadian Agri-food Research Council’s Recommended Codes of Practice, the closest thing the country has to laws governing how farmed animals should be treated. The Council is funded by government and industry, and comprised mostly of members of the regulated industries (50%), government and academia.

Among other things, the Code accepts battery cages and partial beak removal. The article discusses the Code's inadequacies, problems with battery cages and the fate of chicks and hens. Author Syd Baumel met a dead-end when trying to ascertain information about the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency's voluntary Animal Care Certification Program. The Program provides the public with 3 annual opportunities to view caged hens and hear from egg farmers about husbandry practices.

Efforts by CCFA and VHS to improve conditions for hens are listed, and the meanings behind egg labels are explained. The article concludes: “Arguably, the only truly humane eggs come from backyard flocks or sanctuaries where the birds, like companion animals, are treated kindly all their natural lives.”

The Practical Ethicist: “The Way We Eat” Author Peter Singer Explains the Advantage of Wingless Chickens, how Indecent Exposure
The Aquarian, Syd Baumel, May 31 206



Last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law new rules that give the state the most strict ocean fish-farming regulations in the country. The aim of the legislation is to reduce pollution and harm to marine wildlife from giant floating pens of freshwater fish that could result from the spread of the aquaculture industry along the state’s coast. Sponsored by Ocean Conservancy and other environmental groups, the bill was passed along party lines.

Meanwhile, Louisiana is dealing with its own fishing issues. This summer, the industry expects a “dead zone” of empty, low-oxygen water about the size of Connecticut to form off the state’s coast due to pollutants that spark massive oxygen-depleting algae blooms. Voluntary incentives to stop pollution have failed to cut back on fertilizers carried by rivers from farms upstream, 80% of which an Environmental Working Group study has shown come from a small number of Midwest agricultural counties which are heavily subsidized by the federal government to grow crops. A multi-state compact was signed five years ago to control the annual dead zone problem, but officials and scientists agree it has only been getting worse.

On May 8, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its National Strategy for Agriculture. The agency says it considers agriculture to be “a producer of solutions to environmental problems.” A primary goal of the National Strategy is to increase EPA employee awareness of how their actions affect agriculture, as well as how “farming benefits human health and the environment.”

Greasy Kid Stuff
New Law Aimed at Protecting Ocean from Fish-Farming Risks
Mercury News, Paul Rogers, May 27, 2006

Dead Zone Linked to Farm Subsidies
The Times-Picayune, Matthew Brown, April 17, 2006

New EPA Collaborative Partnership with Farmers in Growing Economy, Cleaning up the Environment
Environmental Protection Agency, May 8, 2006


Three bills signed into law by the governor of Oklahoma may ease restrictions for pig producers. One addresses permitting steps for new or expanding swine-finishing operations once the state has reviewed their applications. Under this bill, opposing individuals must state the specific issue to which they object. The other two bills redefine the definition of a manure spill or discharge and address testing restrictions of dry monitoring wells.

Animal bills presented during the Tennessee General Assembly session did not fare as well. Legislation that failed included a measure to guard against mad cow disease by banning all feed containing meal made from cattle or other ruminant animals, and a measure to make Tennessee the first state to ban the sale of chickens who have been fed arsenic. Another bill not adopted by the Assembly would have closed off public access to the state’s agricultural testing records.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has asked New York Gov. George Pataki to retract a $42,000 grant to Hudson Valley Foie Gras farm and investigate the operation for violations of state animal cruelty laws. The HSUS also threatened to sue the state for funding an illegal activity. The state development agency that issued the grant contends that the farm complies with all state laws. The money will help the farm increase its output to process over 300,000 ducks annually.

Oklahoma Bills Could Grow Pork Industry
Pork Alert from Pork magazine, May 30, 2006

Legislative Losers
Associated Press, May 30, 2006,1406,KNS_356_4736150,00.html

Humane Society Wants Foie Gras Grant Killed
The Post-Standard, Marnie Eisenstadt, May 26, 2006


The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon elaborate its plan for a National Animal Identification System. This announcement was made after the U.S. House of Representatives, through its agriculture appropriations bill, demanded the agency to put the plan in writing and seek public comment before funds are released on Oct. 1. The current goal is to implement a “premise ID” by next year and be able to track animals by 2009. Congress has already provided almost $85 million for the identification system and has allocated another $33 million to be released when the issue is resolved.

The U.S. Animal Identification Organization estimates it will cost 30 cents to track an animal during his or her lifetime. The system could be a promising safeguard against diseased animals in the food supply (and could boost exports to Asian countries). While some hope it will make consumers more comfortable knowing animals can be tracked, some fear it is too expensive, would harm property rights and be a technological mess.
A web site has been launched in opposition to the plan. Although the USDA has decided in recent months to rely on voluntary compliance and let private databases track farmed animals’ whereabouts, it has the power to require participation. Australia already has a mandatory animal ID system in place. An industry commentary critical of U.S. resistance to a national animal ID program can be found at:

USDA Says Will Clarify Livestock Traceback Plans
Reuters, May 24, 2006

National Animal Identification System Controversy
WTVY, Erika Kurre, May 15, 2006

Animal ID Caught in Budget Battle
Capital Press, Tam Moore, May 26, 2006


Benchmark wholesale prices for chicken are down 20% from a year ago, and beef and pork prices are down over 8%, reports the Livestock Marketing Information Center. As the Atkins diet loses popularity and people seek out more balanced diets, meat eating has gone into decline—despite raised production rates in 2004 and 2005. Export problems for chicken and beef have added to the problem. Long-term, however, the USDA projects a steady rise in meat consumption with a lowered price.

Still, meat-free diets are becoming more prevalent around the world. About 3% of the U.S. population eats no flesh of any kind (up from 1% in 1997), including 10% of 25- to 34-year-olds, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. A poll taken in 2000 found more than 1.7 million vegans in the U.S. The market for animal-product replacement foods is estimated at $2.8 billion, according to research consumer company Mintel International Group, Ltd. A food industry publication examines the reasons why people opt for a meat-free diet (see source below). In Beijing, numerous restaurants have begun catering to vegetarians in response to the rising popularity of the diet in China. Body-conscious white-collar workers and the growing number of Chinese suffering from excess weight and hypertension are especially interested in it.

Diet Trends Driving Down Cost of Meat
The Associated Press, May 15, 2006

Veganism Creates $2.8B Market
Arizona Daily Star, Levi J. Long, May 15, 2006

Motive and Method
Food Systems Insider, Suzanne B. Bopp, May 2006

Vegetarianism Now a Popular Diet
China Daily, May 17, 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.