Farmed Animal Watch: Objective Information for the Thinking Advocate
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APRIL 3, 2008 -- Number 11, Volume 8

1. RESULTS OF SLAUGHTERPLANT AUDITS

“…the absolute worst thing that happened in 2007 was the horrible abuse of dairy cows at the Westland/Hallmark Meat plant in California," [ http://tinyurl.com/3bbke4 ] wrote Temple Grandin ( http://www.Grandin.com ), “This was one of the worst animal abuse undercover videos [ http://tinyurl.com/39avqg ] I have ever seen.” About 7% of the 34.3 million cattle slaughtered in the U.S. in 2007 were cows who had been used for dairy production. These cows are the animals who are most likely to become non-ambulatory. Steers (castrated male cattle) almost never do, animal science experts report.

According to Grandin, the biggest problems occur in slaughterplants that are not required to comply with a strict auditing program by a customer. During 2007, 44 cattle plants and 27 pig plants in the U.S. and Canada were audited by McDonald’s or Wendy’s International. Of them, 91% of the cattle plants and 92% of the pig plants received a passing score (see Grandin article for scoring guidelines). Two cattle plants completely failed. At one, which constituted the worst audit failure in the past five years, a conscious animal was hung on a slaughter line and “a totally untrained employee cut off its leg with a hock cutter.” At the other, “an employee stuck an electric prod in the anal area of two cows.” Grandin notes that both plants “had a severe lack of management commitment to welfare.” She reports that the restaurant auditing program, now beginning its ninth year, “clearly show that the vast majority of the beef and pork plants are doing a good job.”

The auditing program criteria are based on guidelines set by the American Meat Institute (AMI). Federal slaughter laws require that farmed animals (excluding fish and poultry) be rendered insensible with one stunning attempt prior to slaughter. However, the AMI guidelines deem an acceptable stunning effectiveness rating to be 99% for pigs and 95% for cattle and sheep. The National Chicken Council considers 98% to be an acceptable stunning standard for chickens. Notes the Animal Welfare Institute: “Even if every single slaughter plant was able to meet these voluntary industry goals…185 million chickens, 1.8 million cattle and sheep and 1 million pigs would still be killed inhumanely each year in the United States.” (Regarding chickens, see also: http://tinyurl.com/2pfkmb )

The slaughter process at one California cattle slaughterplant is the subject of the Press-Enterprise article (with photos) included in the sources below.


COMPLIANCE IS PREVALENT
Meat & Poultry, Temple Grandin, March 1, 2008
http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/headline_stories.asp?ArticleID=92069

HOW MANNING BEEF SLAUGHTERS, PROCESSES A COW INTO A STEAK
The Press-Enterprise, Sean Nealon, March 28, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/2vk8nb

THE TRUTH BEHIND HUMANE SLAUGHTER LAW
PRNewswire-USNewswire, March 25, 2008
http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS226056+25-Mar-2008+PRN20080325
and see: http://tinyurl.com/2om5jn

 

2. PREVENTING COW LEG PROBLEMS

Swollen hocks (the hind leg joint) and other joint ailments present welfare problems for cows used for dairy production and affect the quality of meat from them (see item #1). Free-stall housing, in which cows are provided with bedded stalls but are free to roam the barn, is becoming increasingly popular. A recent survey by Colorado State University of 113 dairies found that leg injuries can nearly be eliminated in free-stall barns with good management of cow beds. In the best dairies, 0% of cows had swollen or injured hocks. In the worst ones, 12-47% of cows did. The difference between the best and worst dairies was management’s attention to details of bed cleaning and maintenance.


LOOKING CLOSER AT LEGS
Meat & Poultry, Temple Grandin, January 1, 2008
http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/headline_stories.asp?ArticleID=92061

 

3. CALIFORNIA LEGISLATION RE NON-AMBULATORY ANIMALS

On April 1st, members of California’s Assembly Public Safety Committee advanced A.B. 2098 ( http://tinyurl.com/2p6v3s ), a bill to criminally charge slaughterplant officials who sell the meat of non-ambulatory cattle, goats, pigs, or sheep. The bill would make it a misdemeanor, with a fine of $20,000 and up to a year in jail. Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, who introduced the bill, wants it to apply also to meat sent out of state. The California Cattlemen's Association wants the bill to prohibit dairies and ranchers from transporting or delivering non-ambulatory animals, and to ban stockyards, auction yards, marketing agencies and dealers from buying, selling or receiving them. (The latter already is the law in California (see "Animal Care Regulations" (599f): http://tinyurl.com/3xul72 ). California already bans the slaughter of non-ambulatory animals in state-inspected plants, but most plants are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The bill must pass several other legislative steps before being sent to the governor.

In March, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to strengthen penalties against slaughterplants that illegally handle non-ambulatory cattle (see: http://tinyurl.com/3bbke4 ). Additionally, a bill has been introduced in California to place state-monitored video cameras in cattle and poultry slaughterplants. It would also require the state reimburse school districts for recall costs.


CALIF. PANEL ADVANCES CRIMINAL PENALTIES AGAINST SLAUGHTERHOUSES
The Mercury News, Samantha Young, April 1, 2008
http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_8772086

IN AFTERMATH OF BEEF RECALL, SLAUGHTERHOUSE BILL PROCEEDS IN ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE
The Press-Enterprise, Jim Miller, April 1, 2008
http://www.pe.com/localnews/politics/stories/PE_News_Local_D_cows02.35d7e79.html

 

4. FINANCIAL FALLOUT FROM BEEF RECALL

The ultimate monetary cost of the Hallmark/Westland recall (http://tinyurl.com/3bbke4 ) may amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association. In addition to the 46 states that received beef from the company through the National School Lunch Program, hundreds of companies marketed Westland beef or sold products containing it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has ordered all of it be destroyed. The USDA is reimbursing states for recall losses resulting through the lunch program. "We're essentially eating the cost," a USDA spokesperson said. Affected companies and the USDA plan to seek compensation from Westland. The company has laid its workers off and is not expected to reopen.

IMPACT OF MEAT RECALL BEGINNING TO SHOW
USA Today, Julie Schmit, March 30, 2008
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2008-03-30-meat-recall_N.htm

 

5. FARM SANCTUARY: CHANGING HEARTS AND MINDS

“Powerless to form unions or protests of their own, farm animals have found a champion in Baur,” writes one reviewer of "Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food," a new book by Gene Baur (see: http://www.genebaur.org ). President and co-founder of the organization Farm Sanctuary [a Farmed Animal Watch sponsor], Baur holds a degree in sociology and a master’s in agricultural economics. Visits to a stockyard launched his advocacy work: "We would find living animals discarded, sometimes in trash cans or on piles of dead animals. We rescued them, and began advocating for reforms," Baur wrote. Initiated in 1986 out of a Delaware row house, Farm Sanctuary now provides refuge to more than 800 farmed animals residing on two spacious farms in California and New York. "As I spent time with animals, I realized how much like us they are in many respects: their emotions, their memories, their relations with each other,” said Baur, “At the same time, I came to understand the outlook of farmers and others who perceive and see animals differently than we do at Farm Sanctuary."

“Farm Sanctuary is a thought-provoking examination of the ethical questions involved in the production of beef, poultry, pork, milk, and eggs. It addresses the systematic mistreatment of the ten billion farm animals who are exploited specifically for food in the United States every year—as well as the plight of farmers who fall victim to the `get bigger or get out’ mantra embraced by corporate agribusinesses,” explains Kathleen Gorden, editor of East Valley Living ( http://tinyurl.com/2vj98q ). “To read in Baur's work…about how we tyrannize animals and pervert their nature to satisfy our ungoverned appetites, is to understand how much we, in turn, pervert our own nature,” states Rod Dreher in his Dallas Morning blog ( http://tinyurl.com/2swzql ). “Baur urges readers to avoid ‘factory-farmed meat, milk and eggs’ and, where possible, to visit local farms that sell at neighborhood farmers markets. Or try eating vegan one day a week,” writes Ellison Weist in the Lake Oswego Review, “Baur keeps the consumer guilt trips to a minimum and, in doing so, may win himself some vegan converts along the way” ( http://tinyurl.com/34hztg ). Concludes the Los Angeles Times: “This is a habit-changing book”: http://tinyurl.com/3alcc5

ONE MAN'S BEEF WITH THE FARMING INDUSTRY
ASU Web Devil, Channing Turner, March 19, 2008
http://www.asuwebdevil.com/issues/2008/03/19/style/704188

MAKING A CASE FOR FARM SANCTUARY
Star-Gazette, John P. Cleary, March 18, 2008
http://www.stargazettenews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080318/LIFE/803180304




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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.