In a landmark victory for animals, on Tuesday (12/30) the USDA issued a ban on the slaughter and marketing of downed animals. The ban comes one week to the day of the first confirmed case of Mad Cow disease was reported in the U.S., and after more than a decade of lobbying by animal protection groups seeking the ban.

Thanks to a torrent of media interest and an outpouring of emails, letters, and phone calls to Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, the USDA took decisive action today with Secretary Ann Veneman’s announcement that "USDA will ban all downer cattle from the human food chain." While a number of states restrict the movement of downers at state-licensed facilities, the newly-announced federal ban will apply in all states and at all federally inspected slaughterhouses, which account for the vast majority of all animals slaughtered in the United States.

This is a great victory in the fight to implement more humane treatment for millions of farmed animals. At least 200,000 of these animals become "downed" every year in the U.S. With a ban on the sale and slaughter of downed animals, livestock owners will be forced to treat their animals more humanely so that they do not become nonambulatory in the first place. And those animals who do become too sick or injured to walk on their own will no longer have to suffer the cruelty of being dragged, beaten, or pushed with bulldozers to the killing floor.

Says Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice president of The HSUS, "“We are delighted with Secretary Veneman’s emphatic declaration that downed cattle are unfit for human consumption and will not be channeled into the human food supply. This decision also means that these animals will no longer be inhumanely treated by being dragged by chains or pushed by bulldozers to get them to slaughter.”

To read the full text of the USDA press release, go to:  

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