Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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DECEMBER 15, 2006 -- Number 42, Volume 6

1. NEW JERSEY FARMED ANIMAL STANDARDS CHALLENGED

Oral arguments were heard on Wednesday in a lawsuit contending that New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture (DoA) has failed to establish humane standards for farmed animals as required since 1996 by the state’s legislature. Regulations issued by the DoA in May 2004 continue to permit “inhumane” practices and grant broad exemptions for agribusiness, charges the lawsuit filed by the Animal Welfare Institute, Farm Sanctuary, The Humane Society of the U.S., other public interest organizations, farmers and citizens. Lawyers for the state deny it has failed to apply the law, and assert that practices that may seem cruel are sometimes necessary to protect animals from each other and safeguard their health.

The lawsuit is unprecedented in that it seeks a judicial declaration that regulations authorizing inhumane practices are illegal under state law. The DoA did amend the regulations on Dec. 4th by banning the forced molting of birds due to welfare concerns. New Jersey is currently the only state that requires humane standards be set for farmed animals but the case could help establish national standards. A decision by the 3-judge appellate panel isn’t expected for months. Background information and legal briefs can be found at: http://www.njfarms.org/lawsuit_2006.htm


NEW JERSEY SUIT A TEST CASE ON FARM ANIMAL CRUELTY
Reuters, Jon Hurdle, Dec 13, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/y4y2b5

ADVOCATES FOR FARM ANIMALS SAY STATE GUIDELINES ARE INHUMANE
The Star-Ledger, Rick Hepp, December 14, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/yegkgl


2. HORSE-SLAUGHTER BILL HALTED

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act was not voted on by the U.S. Senate prior to the close of the Congressional session on December 8th. It had passed the House of Representatives with a 263:146 vote in mid-September (see: http://tinyurl.com/sucqo ). The bill would also halt the transport of horses for slaughter, and animal advocates rallied to get it though the Senate with a letter of support signed by a quarter of the Senate’s 100 members and footage of brutal slaughter in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The Mexican footage shows a horse collapsing after being repeatedly stabbed in the neck and back (viewable on-line at: http://tinyurl.com/ylvz3e ). In the Canadian footage, a horse is shot while standing in a stall, while the U.S. footage shows a horse killed with a bolt gun. The legislation will have to clear the House again after Congress reconvenes in January before another vote on it can be attempted in the Senate.


ANIMAL RIGHTS GROUPS PRESS CONGRESS TO HALT THE SLAUGHTER OF HORSES
The State, Dave Montgomery, Dec. 5, 2006
http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/nation/16171552.htm


3. BREAST CANCER DROP BELIEVED DUE TO HORMONE USE CESSATION

A sharp decrease in new U.S. breast cancer cases in 2003 is believed to be the result of millions of women ceasing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) the prior year. HRT [commonly made with the urine of pregnant horses] is prescribed for problematic menopausal symptoms. In mid-2002, researchers warned that a major study suggested it raised the risk of breast cancer and other serious maladies (see: http://tinyurl.com/yjzcu8 ). About 30% of U.S. women over the age of 50 were using HRT, but about half of them quit it after the warning. The incidence of breast cancer had been increasing during the two decades prior to July 2002.


FEWER BREAST CANCERS LINKED TO LESS HORMONE THERAPY
Reuters, Ed Stoddard, Dec. 14, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/yhpshx


4. FARMED ANIMALS' DARK ENVIRONMENTAL SHADOW

Increasingly large herds of cattle have been singled out as the world’s leading cause of environmental problems -including climate change, deforestation, land degradation, water and air pollution, water shortage and loss of biodiversity- in a 400-page report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow. Farmed animal industries in general are deemed "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every scale." Farmed animals surpass transport as the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 18% of the global total (versus 13.5%). They produce about 9% of carbon dioxide, up to 40% of methane, and nearly two-thirds of nitrous oxide.

Farmed animals comprise some 20% of the terrestrial animal biomass, and the crux of environmental problems is said to be the vast amount of land used for them. They occupy 26% of all ice-free land, with pastures comprising 70% of the Amazon’s deforested areas, and feed for them using a third of global cropland. The authors call for strong and immediate political commitment in stopping the environmental spiral caused by the continued increase in demand for meat and milk. Global veganism is not considered a viable solution, however, due to the reliance of a billion people on farmed animal production for their livelihoods, and the environmental impacts of plant production. Instead, the authors argue that prices and fees for natural resources must be made to cover the full economic and environmental cost. They call for the taxing of beef products from the world's 1.5 billion cattle as a way to decrease demand for them, and note that consumers, "because of their strong and growing influence in determining the characteristics of products, will likely be the main source of commercial and political pressure to push the livestock sector into more sustainable forms." The complete report can be accessed at (PDF file): http://tinyurl.com/ymotue


UN SAYS CARS ARE GREENER THAN COWS
Stuff, Beck Eleven, December 13, 2006
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/3897838a7693.html

COWS, PIGS AND SHEEP: ENVIRONMENT'S GREATEST THREATS?
New Scientist, Catherine Brahic, Dec. 12, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/uwqkc

DO NOT GIGGLE
Daily Grist, Dec. 1, 2006
http://grist.org/news/daily/2006/12/01/6/

U.N. REPORT TAKES AIM AT CATTLE PRODUCTION
BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, Joe Roybal, Dec. 15, 2006
http://enews.prismb2b.com/enews/beef/cowcalf_weekly/current#a061215_12


5. ROLLING STONE COVERS SMITHFIELD

Boss Hog is a lengthy article about Smithfield Foods in the December 14th issue of Rolling Stone magazine subheaded: "America's top pork producer churns out a sea of waste that has destroyed rivers, killed millions of fish and generated one of the largest fines in EPA history. Welcome to the dark side of the other white meat." The initial photograph (included in the on-line version) is of a large outdoor pile of many dead pigs. Author Jeff Tietz begins: "Smithfield Foods, the largest and most profitable pig processor in the world, killed 27 million hogs last year," the numeric equivalent of the human populations of America's thirty-two largest cities.

The company also generates an estimated 26 million tons of total waste discharge a year, with the pigs’ excrement being extremely toxic because: "Smithfield's pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in warehouse-like barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are artificially inseminated and fed and delivered of their piglets in cages so small they cannot turn around. Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth…Taken together, the immobility, poisonous air and terror of confinement badly damage the pigs' immune systems. They become susceptible to infection.…” which is addressed with antibiotics and insecticides.

Smithfield's largest operation “dumps more toxic waste into the nation's water each year than all but three other industrial facilities,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Tietz takes readers on an aerial tour of the company’s North Carolina operations, detailing the immense environmental devastation wrought by them, the human health hazards they pose, and the political contributions that have enabled the company to operate so. The article concludes by telling of Smithfield’s ventures into less regulated Poland and the devastation that has resulted there, and its stated intent to turn Eastern Europe into “the Iowa of Europe.”

BOSS HOG
Rolling Stone, Jeff Tietz, Dec. 14, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/vr8vn


6. PIGS TORTURED, BEATEN, HUNG, SHOT

Pigs at Wiles Farm “are ineffectively shot and left alive, beaten to death with hammers, have their heads slammed into walls and floors multiple times, and sows are strung up by their neck and slowly suffocated.” A former employee alleges: “They basically use them as target practice when they shoot them.” The whistleblower said the owner’s adult son told her: “Pigs don’t feel pain.” A special prosecutor is looking into these and other charges filed by the Humane Farming Association (HFA), which has been investigating the northeast Ohio pig breeding facility since September 2005. “Workers often vent their frustrations on the pigs by physically attacking and abusing them,” states the HFA complaint, which, including photographs, can be viewed at (PDF file): http://tinyurl.com/yd3r2a It also documents pigs forced to live in cold water and other inhumane conditions.

Law enforcement officials searched the property on November 8th. Less “disturbing” portions of undercover videotape obtained by HFA were aired by Cleveland station WKYC. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who viewed the broadcast, said he will address the issue of farmed animal treatment in the next Congressional session. (Kucinich has also announced his candidacy for the 2008 Presidential election: http://www.kucinich.us ) Farm owner Ken Wiles claims that he complies with all state and federal laws [there are no federal laws regarding the treatment of animals on farms], but HFA contends that the facility has systematically violated Ohio anti-cruelty laws. The National Pork Producers Council announced that it “abhorred” the acts on the tape but that Wiles is now working with a veterinarian who specializes in pigs to implement corrective measures.

HFA TAKES ACTION AGAINST OHIO HOG FACTORY
Crimes Uncovered Include the Intentional Abuse of Pigs
http://www.hfa.org/campaigns/wiles.html

CONGRESSMAN REACTS TO PIG FARM STORY
WKYC, Dec. 2, 2006
http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=59982

SPECIAL PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATES HANDLING OF PIGS ON NORTHEAST OHIO HOG FARM
WKYC-TV, Bill Safos, Nov. 30, 2006
http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=59955

STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL PORK PRODUCERS COUNCIL AND THE OHIO PORK PRODUCERS COUNCIL ON OHIO HOG MISTREATMENT
National Pork Producers Council & Ohio Pork Producers Council, Dec. 8, 2006
http://www.nppc.org/wm/show.php?id=630&c=1


7. LIVE CHICKENS COMPOSTED; LIVE GOSLINGS SHREDDED, SCALDED, SMASHED

"We called them zombie chickens…Some of them crawled right up out of the ground. They'd get out and stagger around," said California resident Jim Stauffer explaining the plight of hens he saw who had been put into compost piles while still alive. Composting hens who no longer produce eggs at the demanded rate is a practice employed throughout the country. The compost is then used as fertilizer. The hens are said to first be put in a sealed box filled with carbon monoxide to die. According to a one large egg farmer, two out of every 40,000 birds who are gassed usually survive. In Sonoma County (Ca.) alone, half a million chickens are composted annually. Slaughterplants no longer take the birds, who only yield about a pound of meat, which is much less than that from chickens bred for meat production. "It is a fact of life, chickens do their job and go away," said Stauffer, "They don't read the paper and vote." See also: http://tinyurl.com/yzdjbq and item #4 of: http://tinyurl.com/uc42

Activists with Four Paws International obtained footage of foie gras production in Hungary including photographs of goslings being shred alive, which have been published in London’s Daily Mail newspaper. (See also: http://tinyurl.com/umxjh ) Female baby geese don’t grow as quickly as do male goslings so, instead of being force fed for foie gras, shortly after hatching “they are dropped into a giant funnel that leads to the blades which slice them into feed for other animals.” Hungary is the world's second largest foie gras producer after France. Numerous European countries have banned foie gras production, and the European Union wants the practice of force-feeding birds to be prohibited within 15 years. The Pope has denounced the practice as being in violation of Biblical principles. The Daily Mail notes: “In America animal rights workers have reported that female ducklings and goslings are stuffed into nylon sacks and dumped into scalding water. Workers killed the survivors by smashing their heads against dustbins.”

RECYCLING CHICKENS
The Press Democrat, Tobias Young, Nov. 22, 2006
http://tinyurl.com/ylerlk

FOIE GRAS REJECTS THAT ARE SHREDDED ALIVE
Daily Mail (London), Allan Hall, December 13, 2006
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/AR-News/browse_thread/thread/6a8f5e8273581fae


8. FARMER ADMITS BURNING CALVES

Peter Mravlja has pled guilty to felony insurance fraud for burning down his Mravlja Farms dairy barn in Worcester, N.Y., on Easter Sunday in April 2003. Twenty-three calves were killed and a fireman was injured. After Mravlja Farms, co-owned by Mravlja’s father, was paid $143,555.81 in compensation by its insurance company, a confidential tip led to a reinvestigation. Along with the arson and fraud, Mravlja, who had been a volunteer fireman, was indicted for witness tampering. His sentence includes a $50,000 fine; a 5-year felony probation term; 1,000 hours of community service over the next five years, and an order to sell all of his guns.

N.Y. MAN SENTENCED FOR FRAUD IN DAIRY BARN FIRE
Insurance Journal, December 1, 2006
http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/east/2006/12/01/74654.htm





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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.