Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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SEPTEMBER 8, 2006 -- Number 33, Volume 6


“Few bills have stirred more passion, pro and con, than the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act,” states an article in Time magazine. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 263-146 vote yesterday. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), some 90% of the 90,000 horses sent to slaughter each year aren't old or sick. “‘Killer buyers’ roam the country purchasing horses but not telling owners they'll end up at a slaughterhouse,” explains the article. It notes that “Hundreds of horse industry organizations, racehorse owners, trainers, jockeys and humane societies back the ban,” and lists some of the fifty celebrities who publicly oppose horse slaughter. Opposing the ban are state cattlemen's associations, the pig and poultry industries, and farm bureaus. They fear it will be a foot in the door for animal rights organizations to block the slaughter of other animals for food. The USDA is also opposed, as is the American Veterinary Medical Association which warns that shelters may be swamped with hundreds of thousands of unwanted horses while others may instead be sold to unregulated slaughterhouses overseas and be “brutalized even more.” The Senate is expected to take up the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act later this autumn. (see also:

Time, Douglas Wallier, September 7, 2006,8599,1532672,00.html



A U.S. district court ruled on Wednesday that members of The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) can sue the federal government over the way chickens and turkeys are slaughtered. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had put forth a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which seeks to include poultry under the Humane Slaughter Act. HSUS, East Bay Animal Advocates, and other organizations were dismissed from the lawsuit but individual members were deemed to have standing (eligibility) to sue. According to the article: “The lawsuit alleged that current industry practices include hanging live birds upside down in metal shackles, then moving them through an electrified water bath that paralyzes them while still conscious.” The plaintiffs argue that the procedure is cruel and presents consumer hazards since it increases the chance that a bird will inhale contaminated water, resulting in higher bacteria levels that could cause food poisoning if the meat is not cooked enough. They also allege that birds trying to escape can spread dirt and dust inhaled by workers, defecate on the employees, and cause them emotional distress after seeing the birds suffer. An estimated 9 billion birds, about 95% of domestic land animals raised on farms, are not covered by the law.

Reuters, Christopher Doering, September 6, 2006



Daniel Palmer, 27, and Neil Allan, 30, both from Norfolk (U.K.), have been ordered to each perform 200 hours of community service for using poles like baseball bats to hit turkeys (see: ). The abuse was secretly filmed by Hillside Animal Sanctuary at a Bernard Matthews' farm this past April. (It can be viewed at: (2nd item under "Latest News," right side)).
Both admitted mistreating the birds. Palmer said he felt ashamed, Allan said he considered it a form of anger relief. Their lawyer said they were influenced by "peer pressure" and part of a "culture" at the facility. He said it was ironic that the turkeys were going to be killed anyway, and talked of how terrible the working conditions must have been for the men. The two had each been facing a 6-month prison term and a fine of £5,000 ($9,545). Hillside wants a government investigation of industry. A Bernard Matthews spokesperson said the company is committed to the "highest standards" of animal welfare.

BBC News, September 7, 2006

Manchester Evening News, September 7, 2006



Bernie Murphy, the Chief executive of the New South Wales branch of the Australian RSPCA, says animal activists should be stopped from entering animal facilities. He stated: "They go onto a property, they breach the biosecurity, they may visit great harm on the well-being of the animals plus of course they are having an impact on people's livelihoods…No one would tolerate someone invading someone's house and this is similar to that in a business sense…These people believe because they have the moral high ground in their mind, they can go onto properties, break the law, ignore it…Sooner or later industry has got to push these people, has got to bring them to court and got to say to the court, 'Give me a fair go as well'." His statements were prompted by a July raid on a New South Wales pig facility. Video footage from the raid has recently been sent to police, with allegations about cruelty regarding sow pens.

ABC Rural, September 7, 2006



Satya is a monthly magazine that focuses on “vegetarianism, environmentalism, animal advocacy, and social justice.” In the September issue, “Killing Us Softly” is the title of a series of essays and interviews in which prominent activists discuss “the growing interest in ‘humane,’ ‘organic’ and ‘free-range’ meat, dairy and eggs and what that means for the animals, animal activism and meat consumption.” A number of them, along with the magazine’s editorial, are freely accessible on-line (the links are included below). The editorial asks: “What does it mean when animal protection organizations publicly endorse and direct resources into supporting such programs?” It goes on to state that the debate is “…not the over-simplified animal welfare vs. abolition argument. This is about the consistency of our messages and actions and their consequences. It’s about the 10 billion animals killed for meat each year in this country—humanely raised or not—and what we’re doing to stop that.”

James LaVeck, producer of the documentaries “The Witness” and “Peaceable Kingdom,” begins the lead article by using the environmental movement’s collaboration with industry as a warning of what he sees happening within the animal protection community, equating greenwashing with “‘hogwashing’—the practice of generating the public appearance of having compassion for animals while continuing to kill millions of them for profit.” LaVeck explains: “A grassroots movement morphs into something more businesslike and professionalized, and what were once vibrant gatherings characterized by diversity and passionate dialogue come to resemble the meetings of a trade association or cartel...One camp, filled with righteous indignation, holds faithfully to the ‘old ways,’ and battles daily with disempowerment and isolation. Another camp resolutely does what it must to gain a place at the table where the big decisions of society get made, and does their best to resist the creeping temptations of complicity.” He warns: “But the coins weigh heavily in our pockets, and long after they are spent, we’re haunted by the last look in our cow’s eyes as she was led away by uncaring strangers into the darkness.” Cautioning against the cooption of language, LaVeck concludes: “Compassion is the highest expression of human potential. As such, it can never be bought or sold, only freely given and received. Using this word as a label for the products of suffering and exploitation is nothing short of an act of violence.” A revised Peaceable Kingdom, now in post-production, will include an examination of the ethics of alternatively produced animal products.

Compassion for Sale? Doublethink Meets Doublefeel as Happy Meat Comes of Age

In “Sadly, Happy Meat’” Eddie Lama considers alternatively produced meat to be “a brilliant business move” and “the (humane) death of animal rights.” His essay considers the role of Temple Grandin:

Promoting Animal Rights by Promoting Reform
In defending welfare reforms, such as increased living space for egg-laying hens, Bruce Friedrich (PETA) and philosopher Peter Singer argue that “Not only is it possible to work for [animal] liberation while supporting incremental change, such change is inevitable as we move toward this goal.” They assert that “the philosophical argument granting chickens freedom from battery cages also logically demands that we cease to exploit them for our own ends.” They also point out: “If, as we all believe, each individual animal deserves to have her interests considered as an individual, then welfare improvements are good. We can’t ignore the vast suffering of these billions of animals for some hypothetical future goal.” Philosopher Gary Francione has written a rebuttal to this essay, which can be found at:

The Longest Journey Begins With a Single Step

It’s Not a Black and White Issue
Gene Bauston, co-founder and head of Farm Sanctuary, is on the advisory board of Whole Foods’ Animal Compassion Foundation: In “It’s Not a Black and White Issue: Promoting a Humane World for Farmed Animals,” Bauston explains why he doesn’t necessarily agree that “if animals are treated more humanely, more people will feel comfortable eating them.” He thinks that promoting a vegan lifestyle should be the top priority for animal activists “because consumer habits are what ultimately drive farming and other businesses.” He refuses to label his organization as being for animal welfare or animal rights but offers instead “We work to prevent cruelty and promote vegan living.”

The Importance of Being Honest
Australian activist Patty Mark also believes that veganism should top farmed animal advocates’ agenda. She feels that trying to reform animal agriculture practices is a poor use of activist resources. Renown for pioneering “open rescues” (see: ), Mark tells that some of the worst conditions she has witnessed have been in uncaged hen operations approved by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA, see item #4 above). “Promoting free-range, sunshine and fresh air before a ‘stunned’ slaughter for animals sugar-coats the bits and pieces of their bodies for the public, but it isn’t getting our job done and it’s dishonest to the animals depending on our help,” she states. “The real work isn’t negotiating with the animal industries, but with educating the public…The last thing animal farmers want us to do is promote veganism, so let’s make it first-up.” She advises: “The important thing for the long-term is to be a vegan, keep positive, read as much as you can about strategy and history, keep an open mind and set your eye on the battery hen in the seventh tier, 30th cage, sixth aisle, or on the scared little pig with the electric prod bearing down upon him at the slaughterhouse—and don’t lose your focus.”

A View from the Hillside
Wendy Valentine, founder of Hillside Animal Sanctuary, in the U.K., also criticizes RSPCA-affiliated operations, those in the “Freedom Food” animal welfare assurance program. “We have looked at 10 of their farms and the conditions were so bad in two of them that the RSPCA had to initiate a prosecution of two farms they were supposed to be monitoring! Needless to say, the RSPCA doesn’t want a farm they were monitoring to be found guilty” she explains. Valentine adds that the country has some of the best animal protection laws but that they are rarely enforced or upheld. “The farms are protected,” she said, “not the animals.”

Straight Talk from a Former Cattleman
Howard Lyman is a 45-year cattle rancher turned animal advocate. Beginning with 4-H, which he says “is designed for nothing more than instilling in young people that economics is by far more dominant than their love for animals,” he considers the plight of farmers and ranchers. Lyman acknowledges that certain methods of production are less inhumane than others, but adds “never forget, there’s no such thing as humane slaughter.” He adds that “doing something that’s better for the wrong reasons, still does not make it right.” Lyman states: “We become part of the problem when we put our money into the industry by buying or support the buying of animal products produced better than some other ways.”

In “Cradle to Grave: The Facts Behind ‘Humane’ Eating,” Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, founder of Compassionate Cooks, also says there is no such thing as humane slaughter. She discusses conditions for animals on farms and ranches practicing alternative production methods.

The Campaign to Ban Battery Cages
Paul Shapiro, director of the Factory Farming Campaign of The Humane Society of the U.S. and co-founder of Compassion Over Killing, explains the rationale behind the campaign to ban battery cages for egg-laying hens. “In just the last 18 months of concerted campaigning against the battery cage, hundreds of thousands fewer laying hens are confined in cages,” he said, adding: “The trend is clear: battery cages are being relegated to the dustbin of history faster than anyone would have imagined just two years ago.” Shapiro cautions against claiming that “cage-free” is “cruelty-free” but explains: “While cage-free may not mean cruelty-free, cage-free hens have significant advantages in quality of lie than their caged counterparts. Unlike battery hens, cage-free hens are able to walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests. Further, cage-free egg producers who obtain certification under one of the more reputable standards programs must provide perching and dustbathing areas for the birds as well. These advantages are important and significant to the animals involved.” He asserts: “It’s time for us to translate existing public support for animals into meaningful movement victories, most notably by banning battery cages.”

In “The Odd Logic of Welfarism,” Bob Torres, an assistant professor of sociology, reconsiders the value of having helped students at St. Lawrence University get the school’s dining services to switch to cage-free eggs. While acknowledging the necessity of incrementalism, Torres says that rather than refining the types of animal products one consumes “…our incrementalism should be the reduction of meat, eggs, dairy, honey and other products of animal exploitation from our diets.” He agrees with Joan Dunayer, author of the book “Speciesism,” that animal welfare standards “…don’t advance veganism or nonhuman emancipation. They legitimize enslavement and slaughter.”

In “You be the Vegetarian,” Martin Rowe, co-founder of Satya and the publisher at Lantern Books, points out that at least six books about “what might loosely be called food politics” have been published in the first half of 2006 (including “The Way We Eat,” by Jim Mason and Peter Singer, and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” by Michael Pollan.”) He considers this evidence that “Americans are looking for guidance and authenticity. They’re confused and they want their food choices demystified. Their consciences have been pricked and they want them salved.” Rowe laments that many, however, are “not open to persuasion, least of all on questions of morality or diet.” He explains “…in the process of being accepted, vegetarianism has become merely another lifestyle, another part of the supermarket of personal choices that all these books attempt to guide us around—good for you but not good for me.” He advises: “Vegetarians have to be more sophisticated, to integrate their vegetarianism into a politicized worldview…”

A Vegan’s Dilemma” is a book review by Satya’s Sangamithra Iyer of journalist Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Iyer suggests that Pollan’s failure to meaningfully explore vegetarianism could have been due to his lack of an appropriate “guru,” such as he had with pastured animal production and hunting. In dismissing vegetarianism, Pollan states that the vegetarian’s “Dreams of innocence are just that; they usually depend on a denial of reality that can be it’s own form of hubris.” Iyer counters: “Searching for a kinder, gentler meat is perhaps where the real denial of reality sets in.”

In “Engaging with the Omnivore,” Michael Pollan admits to Iyer that his lack of exposure to veganic farmers, animal rescuers and animal sanctuary staffers is “a fair criticism.” He also agrees with her that dairy production is something he hasn’t examined in depth. Pollan expresses appreciation for Bruce Friedrich (PETA)’s efforts to inform him on certain issues. He states: “One of the things you learn about the food industry, the more you write about it, is that it’s a sensitive industry. PETA has learned this too. Pressure applied in the right places can bring large changes very quickly.” He adds: “Given the political environment we are in, where it is very hard to get anything done, I think it is very encouraging that you could get movement in this particular industry. I think that is a key question. Do you engage with this industry or do you simply boycott it? There are a lot of people too who want to boycott Whole Foods, don’t want to engage and think I’m wasting my time. You always have to engage. This is how politics works, you move the mainstream a few degrees, and you do not ever get total victory. That is my realism. I think it’s been a very encouraging thing for the animal rights movement that they have been engaging. They are going to have a lot to show for it. I could be wrong. And maybe we are just being greenwashed.”

The current issue of Satya also includes a guide to welfare implications of animal-product labels, and a photo essay entitled “Paying the Price for ‘Pampered’ Poultry.” (It is available for $4, annual subscriptions are $20.) The series will conclude in the next issue. An on-line discussion is also available on the Satya site.

Satya, September 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.