Animals In Print
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26 January 2011 Issue

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Should Farm Animals be Treated Humanely?

~or~
Does $$$ = Political Favors = Power?
~or~
Did the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation make a shrewd deal?
~or~
Did HSUS sell out?
~and~
Does Factory Farming Suck?
 

Do you want to know only part of the truth, (the comfortable part) or the entire truth?

OCJ - Ohio Country Journal's Conversation with Jack Fisher, executive vice president Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, about the HSUS Agreement

http://ocj.com/livestock/a-conversation-with-…-jack-fisher-executive-vice-president-ohio-farm-bureau-federation-about-the-hsus-agreement/ July 15th, 2010

OCJ: How does this agreement affect Issue 2 and the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board?

Jack: The work farmers put into passing Issue 2 is paying off. Farmers said the Care Board was the proper way to handle complex questions about farm animal care. Ohio voters agreed. Now, HSUS acknowledges this. Without the Care Board, the only option to deal with animal issues would be costly, damaging ballot fights. That hasn’t worked out too well in other states.

Farm groups will now make recommendations to the Board that are believed to be acceptable ways to deal with some very contentious issues. The Board will consider recommendations from others as well. HSUS has committed to get in line with everyone else who wants to share an opinion. The Board will make its own decisions, just as intended under Issue 2.

OCJ: If the board doesn’t follow the recommendations, won’t HSUS just come back with its ballot initiative?

Jack: They could. But they would have to explain to Ohio voters why they doubled-back on their public promise to support the Board’s authority and Ohio’s constitutional model of governance. It will be a much tougher position to argue from. The agreement has certainly turned public opinion in our favor when it comes to any future challenges to the Care Board.

OCJ: Doesn’t this just give HSUS a foot in the door to move on to increasingly tougher rules until we are no longer able to produce meat, milk and eggs?

Jack: The fact is that HSUS was already in the house. Their $100 million budget is the battering ram that got them there. A win against HSUS in November wouldn’t have dealt them a deadly blow, but rather a temporary setback. We could continue down this path year after year, throwing money into political campaigns until we were finally outspent.

The root of the problem is that consumers feel regulation is needed to address their concerns. We may not like it, but it is reality. So change is inevitable. Do we try to stop the truck by jumping in front of it, or do we get behind the wheel and control our destination?

Because of Issue 2 and the agreement, we have proven to consumers we are serious about dealing with animal issues. If we cultivate our relationship with consumers with the same enthusiasm that we have fought HSUS, we will effectively cut off our opponents’ path to establishing unworkable new rules. Our trump card is that HSUS’s agenda can only go as far as Ohio consumers allow it. And we have a better story to tell.

OCJ: Why is the deal being reported as a Farm Bureau-HSUS agreement?

Jack: Ohio’s beef, corn, dairy, pork, poultry and soybean organizations along with Farm Bureau made up the Ohioans for Livestock Care coalition, which worked together on Issue 2 and during the talks with the governor and HSUS. As the executive for Ohio’s largest farm organization, and the only one who could speak across commodity lines, I had a more visible role. Members of the media, reporting to a non-agricultural audience, chose to use Farm Bureau as a familiar shorthand for all of the members of the agricultural coalition.

It is important to note, each commodity organization, and Farm Bureau, came to individual conclusions on whether to negotiate, and then what to give and get. Without unanimous consent among the groups there would have been no deal. Unlike other states where HSUS has been able to divide and conquer, Ohio maintained unity.

OCJ: Did you throw pet breeders and other animal breeders under the bus?

Jack: No. HSUS wanted the non-livestock provisions in the overall agreement, and we explained repeatedly that we had no standing to represent any animal breeders other than livestock. The non-livestock provisions will be addressed by HSUS, the governor’s office and appropriate state agencies. In regard to OFBF’s position on the non-livestock issues: OFBF opposes cockfighting.

We will engage in the dog breeding discussions; our commitment is to help find workable common ground. We also will work to protect the animal-owners’ rights to utilize responsible animal husbandry and business practices in areas such as genetics, nutrition, housing and marketing (including the auction system).

The agreement’s provisions regarding wild and dangerous animals are between HSUS and the governor’s office. We are encouraging these breeders to work with their elected officials and state agencies and will assist any Farm Bureau members who are impacted.

Additionally, we will talk with any animal trade association regarding how the Care Board concept might serve as a model for other animal industries. All animal producers can benefit from a system that meets animal owners’ needs while satisfying consumer expectations.

OCJ: Why didn’t you ask for Farm Bureau members’ opinions before making a deal?

Jack: Farm Bureau has a decision-making system that has served us well for 91 years. In our representative form of governance, members elect county delegates who in turn elect state trustees. The 26 farmers who are OFBF’s trustees are empowered to make decisions on behalf of the organization, especially in time-sensitive situations.

In this case, the trustees gave me a set of guiding principles to follow in discussions with the governor and HSUS. Those principles were to protect the authority of the Care Board, to preserve unity among farm organizations, to ensure a positive business climate for farmers, to retain bipartisan political support for agriculture’s agenda, and to put farmers and consumers first while discussing humane treatment of animals. These principles, and the OFBF policy book, guided my actions. I also relied on the counsel of OFBF board members who engaged regularly and frequently throughout the process.

OCJ: How could you even talk to our sworn enemies?

Jack: Like you, I was ready for war; a bloody battle of farmers defending their livelihoods against the powerful animal rights machine. We were preparing to win, and I believed in my heart we could. But with the fate of Ohio’s $90 billion ag industry at stake, and the governor calling to say there might be an alternative to a win-or-die-trying battle, we had to listen. We were obliged to consider what the risks were to Ohio farmers and how to best manage those risks.

If HSUS was on the ballot this year, the campaign could have cost farmers their reputation. We faced an onslaught of ugly animal abuse commercials. Thirty years of reputation building would vanish in the span of a 30-second television ad. Never mind that the ads are misleading, they’re proven effective. We would have been left vulnerable to future challenges too, not just on livestock housing, but a host of other politically charged issues. Would a victory at the ballot be worth these immeasurable costs?

We also faced spending up to $15 million on the campaign. And if we had won, we would likely have to spend the same or more for years to come. HSUS is rich and as committed as we are.

Another consideration was your farm organizations’ limited resources. A ballot fight is a full time job. There would be no time to devote to energy legislation, the farm bill, the state budget or hundreds of other issues farmers expect their organizations to address.

These are just the costs of winning. But what if we’d lost? Livestock producers would have been subject to rigid, rapid changes in production practices that would be unmanageable, so some would simply move to a non-ballot initiative state, taking with them our livestock infrastructure and along with it the corn and soybean market. The idea of letting HSUS have any say whatsoever in farm production practices is distasteful. But under the agreement, HSUS isn’t in charge. The Care Board will decide, not just what’s best for animals, but also what’s best for farmers and consumers.

In the end, the agreement managed risks, provided some clarity for farm business planning, protected agriculture’s reputation and preserved the accomplishments we made with Issue 2.

Not for one moment do I think HSUS will go away. Their mission remains putting livestock farmers out of business. Ohio Farm Bureau’s mission remains forging a partnership between farmers and consumers. To do that we must counter the HSUS threat. The agreement means we’ll now be doing that through continuing engagement instead of a date-certain showdown. Your passion for this long-term struggle will determine our success.

~end of article~


 I personally find myself asking why any responsible, respectable farmer would have a problem with treating their livestock humanely...

The truth is: most family farmers don't have a problem with treating their livestock humanely.

Industrialized Nation? Where do "WE, THE PEOPLE" draw the line?

I asked several local family farmers who raise cattle, pigs and chickens how they feel about calves being kept in small veal crates, chickens being raised in small wire cages and having part of their beaks cut off, male chicks being ground up alive, and small gestation crates for pigs who are kept in a constant state of pregnancy, and each and every family farmer said they oppose all of the above! Go figure...

It seems that the primary segment of farmers that the OFBF is actually looking out for is the factory farmer. As we all know, factory farming sucks.

Why does Factory Farming suck?

Factory farmers want more for less... more eggs, milk and meat in less space...

They want to spend less money for livestock care (while the animals are ALIVE) but make more money for the end product.

THE FACTS (reality) THAT MAKE PEOPLE UNCOMFORTABLE TO THINK ABOUT...

Waste

The USDA reports that animals in the US meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste - or five tons for every US citizen.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

Pfiesteria, a microscopic organism that feeds off the phosphorus and nitrogen found in manure, is a lethal toxin harmful to both humans and fish. In 1991 alone, 1,000,000,000,000 (one billion) fish were killed by pfiesteria in the Neuse River in North Carolina.

Since 1995, an additional one billion fish have been killed from manure runoff in estuaries and coastal areas in North Carolina, and the Maryland and Virginia tributaries leading into the Chesapeake Bay. These deaths can be directly related to the 10 million hogs currently being raised in North Carolina and the 620 million chickens on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

In Virginia, state guidelines indicate that a safe level of fecal coliform bacteria is 200 colonies per 100 milliliters of water. In 1997, some streams had levels as high as 424,000 per 100 milliliters.

Antibiotics and Public Health

(1) Overuse of antibiotics in animals is causing more strains of drug-resistant bacteria, which is affecting the treatment of various life-threatening diseases in humans. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences has estimated the annual cost of treating antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. at $30 billion.

(2) Fifty million pounds of antibiotics are produced in the U.S. each year. Twenty million pounds are given to animals, of which 80% (16 million pounds) is used on livestock merely to promote more rapid growth. The remaining 20% is used to help control the multitude of diseases that occur under such tightly confined conditions, including anemia, influenza, intestinal diseases, mastitis, metritis, orthostasis, and pneumonia.

(3) Chickens are reservoirs for many food borne pathogens including Campylobacter and Salmonella. 20% of broiler chickens in the US are contaminated with Salmonella and 80% are contaminated with Campylobacter in the processing plant. Campylobacter is the most common known cause of bacterial food borne illness in the US.

(4) 5000 deaths and 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur annually.

(5) Antibiotics in farm animals leave behind drug-resistant microbes in meat and milk. With every burger and shake consumed, super-microbes settle in the stomach where they transfer drug resistance to bacteria in the body, making one more vulnerable to previously-treatable conditions.

Animal Cruelty

Chickens and Eggs

There are more than 325 million egg laying hens in the U.S. confined in battery cages — small wire cages stacked in tiers and lined up in rows inside huge warehouses. In accordance with the USDA's recommendation to give each hen four inches of 'feeder space,' hens are commonly packed four to a cage measuring just 16 inches wide. In this tiny space, the birds cannot stretch their wings or legs, and they cannot fulfill normal behavioral patterns or social needs. Constantly rubbing against the wire cages, they suffer from severe feather loss, and their bodies are covered with bruises and abrasions.

In order to reduce injuries resulting from excessive pecking — an aberrant behavior that occurs when the confined hens are bored and frustrated — practically all laying hens have part of their beaks cut off. Debeaking is a painful procedure that involves cutting through bone, cartilage, and soft tissue.

After one year in egg production, the birds are classified as 'spent hens' and are sent off to slaughter. Their brittle, calcium-depleted bones often shatter during handling or at the slaughterhouse. They usually end up in soups, pot pies, or similar low-grade chicken meat products in which their bodies can be shredded to hide the bruises from consumers.

For every egg-laying hen confined in a battery cage, there is a male chick who was killed at the hatchery. Because egg-laying chicken breeds have been genetically selected exclusively for maximum egg production, they don't grow fast or large enough to be raised profitably for meat. Therefore, male chicks of egg-laying breeds are of no economic value, and they are literally discarded on the day they hatch — usually by the cheapest, most convenient means available. Thrown into trash cans by the thousands, male chicks suffocate or are crushed under the weight of others.

Another common method of disposing of unwanted male chicks is grinding them up alive. This can result in unspeakable horrors, as described by one research scientist who observed that "even after twenty seconds, there were only partly damaged animals with whole skulls". In other words, fully conscious chicks were partially ground up and left to slowly and agonizingly die. Eyewitness accounts at commercial hatcheries indicate similar horrors of chicks being slowly dismembered by machinery blades en route to trash bins or manure spreaders.

Pigs

With corporate hog factories replacing traditional hog farms, pigs raised for food are being treated more as inanimate tools of production than as living, feeling animals. From beginning to end, this system is a nightmare from which the animals have no escape, and it all starts with the breeding sows.

Modern breeding sows are treated like piglet-making machines. Living a continuous cycle of impregnation and birth, each sow has more than 20 piglets per year. After being impregnated, the sows are confined in gestation crates – small metal pens just 2 feet wide that prevent sows from turning around or even lying down comfortably. At the end of their four-month pregnancies, they are transferred to similarly cramped farrowing crates to give birth. With barely enough room to stand up and lie down and no straw or other type of bedding to speak of, many suffer from sores on their shoulders and knees. When asked about this, one pork industry representative wrote, "…straw is very expensive and there certainly would not be a supply of straw in the country to supply all the farrowing pens in the U.S."

Dairy Cows

Traditional small dairies, located primarily in the Northeast and Midwest, are going out of business. They are being replaced by intensive 'dry lot' dairies, which are typically located in the Southwest U.S.

Regardless of where they live, however, all dairy cows must give birth in order to begin producing milk. Today, dairy cows are forced to have a calf every year which is physically demanding. The cows are artificially re-impregnated while they are still lactating from their previous birthing, so their bodies are still producing milk during seven months of their nine-month pregnancy. With genetic manipulation and intensive production technologies, it is common for modern dairy cows to produce 100 pounds of milk a day — ten times more than they would produce naturally. As a result, the cows' bodies are under constant stress, and they are at risk for numerous health problems.

Approximately half of the country's dairy cows suffer from mastitis, a bacterial infection of their udders. This is such a common and costly ailment that a dairy industry group, the National Mastitis Council, was formed specifically to combat the disease. Other diseases, such as Bovine Leukemia Virus, Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus, and Johne's disease (whose human counterpart is Crohn's disease) are also rampant on modern dairies, but they commonly go unnoticed because they are either difficult to detect or have a long incubation period. A cow eating a normal grass diet could not produce milk at the abnormal levels expected on modern dairies, and so today's dairy cows must be given high energy feeds. The unnaturally rich diet causes metabolic disorders including ketosis, which can be fatal, and laminitis, which causes lameness.

In a healthy environment, cows would live in excess of twenty-five years, but on modern dairies, they are slaughtered and made into ground beef after just three or four years. The abuse wreaked upon the bodies of dairy cows is so intense that the dairy industry also is a huge source of "downed animals" — animals who are so sick or injured that they are unable to walk even stand. Investigators have documented downed animals routinely being beaten, dragged, or pushed with bulldozers in attempts to move them to slaughter.

Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), a synthetic hormone, is now being injected into cows to get them to produce even more milk. Besides adversely affecting the cows' health, BGH also increases birth defects in their calves.

Calves born to dairy cows are separated from their mothers immediately after birth. The half that are born female are raised to replace older dairy cows in the milking herd. The other half of the calves are male, and because they will never produce milk, they are raised and slaughtered for meat. Most are killed for beef, with close to one million being used for veal.

The veal industry was created as a by-product of the dairy industry to take advantage of an abundant supply of unwanted male calves. Veal calves commonly live for only eighteen to twenty weeks in wooden crates that are so small that they cannot turn around, stretch their legs, or even lie down comfortably. The calves are fed a liquid milk substitute, deficient in iron and fiber, which is designed to make the animals anemic, resulting in the light-colored flesh that is prized as veal. In addition to this high-priced veal, some calves are killed at just a few days old to be sold as low-grade 'bob' veal for products like frozen TV dinners.

Beef Cattle

Most beef cattle spend the last few months of their lives at feedlots, crowded by the thousands into dusty, manure-laden holding pens. The air is thick with harmful bacteria and particulate matter, and the animals are at a constant risk for respiratory disease. Feedlot cattle are routinely implanted with growth-promoting hormones, and they are fed unnaturally rich diets designed to fatten them quickly and profitably. Because cattle are biologically suited to eat a grass-based, high fiber diet, their concentrated feedlot rations contribute to metabolic disorders.

Cattle may be transported several times during their lifetimes, and they may travel hundreds or even thousands of miles during a single trip. Long journeys are very stressful and contribute to disease and even death. The Drover's Journal reports, "Shipping fever costs livestock producers as much as $1 billion a year."

Young cattle are commonly taken to areas with cheap grazing land, to take advantage of this inexpensive feed source. Upon reaching maturity, they are trucked to a feedlot to be fattened and readied for slaughter. Eventually, all of them will end up at the slaughterhouse.

A standard beef slaughterhouse kills 250 cattle every hour. The high speed of the assembly line makes it increasingly difficult to treat animals with any semblance of humaneness. A Meat & Poultry article states, "Good handling is extremely difficult if equipment is 'maxed out' all the time. It is impossible to have a good attitude toward cattle if employees have to constantly overexert themselves, and thus transfer all that stress right down to the animals, just to keep up with the line."

Prior to being hung up by their back legs and bled to death, cattle are supposed to be rendered unconscious, as stipulated by the federal Humane Slaughter Act. This 'stunning' is usually done by a mechanical blow to the head. However, the procedure is terribly imprecise, and inadequate stunning is inevitable. As a result, conscious animals are often hung upside down, kicking and struggling, while a slaughterhouse worker makes another attempt to render them unconscious. Eventually, the animals will be "stuck" in the throat with a knife, and blood will gush from their bodies whether or not they are unconscious.

What You Can Do

Support legislation that abolishes battery cages, veal crates, and intensive-confinement systems. Florida and Arizona have banned the cramped gestation crates used on hog farms, and Michigan farmers have until 2019 to follow suit.(34,35,36) The United Kingdom prohibits the use of gestation crates and veal crates.(37,38) The European Union is phasing out the use of battery cages as of 2012.(39)

FOR COMPLETE RECOUNT OF ABOVE DATA READ THESE LINKS: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/issues/factoryfarming/eggs/
http://www.organicconsumers.org/Toxic/factoryfarm.cfm 

Barbara McGrady
www.spaohio.org 

Compassion is the radicalism of our time. ~The Dalai Lama

Make Secure Donation by Clicking Here: http://www.spaohio.org/donate.php  

When it comes to compassion... S.P.A. MEANS BUSINESS!

Please Support McKenzie's Law! Take just a minute or two to READ THIS LINK: http://www.animallawcoalition.com/companion-animal-breeding/article/1106

New Deal Sells Ohio and its animals short. On July 1st, 2010 Vivian Stevenson (not verified) says: HSUS, Pacelle, Governor Strickland and the Farm Bureau have all thumbed their noses at the citizens of Ohio and have left its animals in jeopardy. Every voter who signed those petitions should feel like they've been slapped in the face and should remember that during the elections in November. HSUS needs to tuck its tail and go back whereever it came from taking Parcell with it because they have failed the citizens of Ohio and the animals they were suppose to be protecting. As usual in politics, they got the mine while the citizens, in particularly the animals, got the shaft. Governor Strickland, you have no concern for what the citizens of Ohio want and no concern for the welfare of the animals of Ohio. by Vivian Stevenson

READ THIS! http://www.animallawcoalition.com/farm-animals/article/1380
Wide Range of Animal Welfare Issues - Posted Jun 30, 2010 by laura allen

 

They should be treated humanely before they're slaughtered to eat.

"The question is not,
"Can they reason?"
nor,
"Can they talk?"
but rather,
"Can they suffer?"

~Jeremy Bentham

In a press conference held today, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced a deal has been reached with the Humane Society of the United States on a number of animal welfare issues. As a result of the agreement, HSUS will not pursue its ballot initiative pursued through a ballot committee called Ohioans for Humane Farms to end certain factory farming practices such as (1) use of battery cages for egg laying hens, gestation crates for pregnant pigs, crates for veal calves or other confinement that prevents animals from lying down, standing up, fully extending his or her limbs, or turning around freely; (2) strangulation and other inhumane methods of killing cows and pigs and (3) transport, sale or receipt of non-ambulatory animals.

Signatures necessary to put the imitative on the ballot were due today.

Gov. Strickland said the deal would "enhance animal welfare and animal care standards" and is "good for Ohio agriculture and good for animal welfare in our state." He said the deal had the support of the Ohio Farm Bureau and agriculture industry organizations in Ohio.

What the deal means for Ohio's farm animals
Under the deal veal crates must be discontinued as of 2017, the same date as specified in the ballot initiative and when the industry has said use of the crates would be phased out anyway. Gestation crates may continue to be used until 2026 though no new permits for facilities using the crates can be issued after Dec. 31, 2010. Battery cages used for egg laying hens will not be required to be phased out, but there can be no new permits issued for facilities using battery cages for confinement. It is not clear if the Livestock Care Standards Board will agree to implement these measures. Under Ohio law, the LCSB determines standards of care and treatment for farm animals. The LCSB could also presumably lift these restrictions at some point.

The deal does include a ban on strangulation of farm animals and mandatory humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured animals. There will also be a ban on the transport of downer cows for slaughter. The language of these measures is not yet available. It is not clear what enforcement measures and penalties will be included. Again, the LCSB must implement these restrictions if they are to have the force of law. In addressing why HSUS decided to abandon the ballot initiative, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, who was present at the news conference said that a ballot initiative is an "uncertain circumstance for both sides" and it is a "better outcome for both sides if we can advance ...reforms".

HSUS, the Governor and Ag Industry agreed on a number of other animal welfare issues
Indeed, the deal is far-reaching, affecting other animal welfare issues. It was agreed that the governor would issue an order barring importation of exotic, dangerous animals as pets. It was agreed legislation would be enacted to raise penalties for cockfighting and improve commercial dog breeding standards. But the legislature must first pass the legislation.

There is already a bill pending to raise penalties for cockfighting.

There is a battle between two puppy mill bills, S.B. 95, that would actually encourage puppy mills, and McKenzie's Law, soon to be introduced by Ohio state Rep. Cheryl Grossman and which is supported by a grassroots movement. There is also a ballot initiative underway that would ban dog auctions. McKenzie's Law would also ban dog auctions while S.B. 95 would allow them to continue.

Pacelle said HSUS would support S.B. 95.

It is more important than ever that you let your Ohio legislators know that you support McKenzie's Law as the best way to end puppy mills and the cruelty to dogs. And, you can still help gather signatures for the ban on dog auctions. Take this as an opportunity to get involved and help pass meaningful legislation that will truly save dogs from the puppy mills in Ohio.

GET INVOLVED AND HELP STOP BACK YARD BREEDING!

The one bright light in all of this is the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions. According to Mary Shaver, a dedicated volunteer (and one of my heroes), the Coalition has so far collected 15,472 signatures. The Coalition needs 120,700 signatures to put the Ohio Dog Auctions Act—a proposed law—before the Legislature in January 2011.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

To help gather signatures (AND YOU CAN HELP!) or for more information, contact the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions www.banohiodogauctions.com 

They have a Facebook page too.

"We ought all of us to feel what a horrible thing it is to cause suffering and death out of mere thoughtlessness..." Barbara McGrady

Compassion is the radicalism of our time. ~The Dalai Lama


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