Animals in Agriculture

Smithfield's Invasion of Poland

by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.


Reprinted from The Ecologist
Date Published: 26/11/03
Author: Robert Kennedy Jr and Tracey Worcester

Fields covered with faeces, children vomiting at school, plastic bins stuffed full of dead pigs. Robert Kennedy and Tracy Worcester experience firsthand the reality of life in Smithfield's Poland.

Ignoring Smithfield's 'no entry' sign, we clambered over wire barriers and wrenched open the ventilation shaft of one of three vast concrete and corrugated iron sheds. The noise was deafening. Five thousand squealing pigs were crammed into strawless compartments inside the recently opened pig factory near the town of Szczecinek in the northwestern Polish province Zachodnio-Pomorskie.

Back outside, effluent from cement cesspits had over-flowed – sending a small stream of brown, stinking liquid into the lake below, which had then frozen over. In a large plastic bin we found 20 dead pigs. When we'd looked the night before, it had been empty.

It seems that the entire operation is illegal. During the communist era, the state farm had employed 44 locals. Officials told us that Prima (a Polish company now owned by Smithfield) had only been given a permit to renovate the derelict farm on condition it guaranteed 15 local jobs. Instead, no locals were employed and 5,000 pigs arrived in the dead of night. Villagers only grasped what had happened when the company began illegally dumping liquid faeces on the snow-covered fields.

People were angry and frightened, but village and township officials told us they were powerless to defend their community as the local government had taken Prima's side.

'If you had informed us of Smithfield's record six months earlier,' they told us, 'we would have refused all permits and prevented Prima from gaining a foothold.' Now they could only ask for our help in challenging the company on environmental grounds.

A few miles north we visited Prima's factory farm at Nielep, where 30,000 pigs are confined. We were met at the compound gate by a tall man in a surgical face mask. Removing the mask, he identified himself as the manager and demanded that we kept away. Responding to our questions about animal welfare, he claimed that although there was no bedding for the pigs, the factory had all the appropriate permits and required number of employees. However, he refused to say exactly how many pigs were impounded, how many died each day or what mix of chemicals were pumped into them. Admitting that he had been taken to Smithfield installations in North Carolina for training, he mouthed the standard company line: 'Our local and national opponents are selfishly concerned with animal welfare instead of feeding the world'.

Local resistance

In a nearby village, a meeting had been convened for local farmers and authorities to hear Tom Garrett of the animal rights advocacy group the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) describe Smithfield's record in the US. People sat in stunned silence as they tried to grasp the impending destruction of their livelihoods and community.

When Garrett had finished, the audience erupted. Many demanded that the local authorities in Poland take control of the country's former state farms and give tenancies to former employees rather than foreign transnationals. Desperate and angry, one old lady confirmed what we had already seen: 'The company has been spreading effluent over snow-covered fields,' she explained. 'People have developed rashes and stomach upsets.' The stench from the effluent had caused vomiting, which threatened the closure of the local school and the destruction of local businesses. To raucous applause, a local politician declared: 'Smithfield must be kicked out.'

This same cry is now being heard all over Poland, with locals signing petitions and farmers forming blockades to get Smithfield out. Across the provincial border from Zachodnio-Pomorskie is Wieckowice, a beautiful village of brick and wooden homes, shrines and long stone barns in the region of Wielkopolska. There we found several dozen local activists carrying signs outside a former state farm owned by Smithfield's Polish subsidiary Animex. The facility has permits for only 500 cows and 500 pigs. It has been reported that it houses 17,000 pigs. The farm is 40 yards from an elementary school where residents say their children get sick and vomit because of the pig odours.

Among the protesters was Irena Kowalak, a dignified woman who served as village mayor for 35 years. She told us she had resigned recently because of intimidation by Smithfield. Andrzej

Nowakowski is the governor of Wielkopolska. Nowakowski said that the local population was unanimously and adamantly opposed to Smithfield and that he refused to give the company permits when it bought the farm two years ago. But six months later Poland's environment ministry overrode him.

Nonetheless, thanks to the governor, Smithfield has not been able to get permits for liquid manure. So the farm uses straw bedding and has not yet devised a plan for disposing of its waste. Fields of wheat surround the pig barns, but they are never harvested because Smithfield is not interested in agriculture. To Smithfield, these fields are a place to dump the notorious wastes of industrial meat production.

A convoy of indignant Wieckowice residents took us out to see the giant pile of pig manure. On the side of a 1,000-acre wheat field was a mountain of pig waste 150 metres long, four metres high and 50 metres wide. 'Seventeen thousand pigs for six months,' a young man said, nodding at the pile. Local authorities have been ordering Smithfield to move the illegal pile for six months, but the company has refused. The night before our visit Smithfield covered its pile with a giant black tarpaulin, which was already inflated and writhing with the internal pressure of methane gas.

Half a mile downhill from the pile, villagers had created a public beach on a 1,500-acre lake where umbrellas shaded dozens of families swimming and playing on a steamy 90º day. Manure residues festered on the shores of a nearby bay into which Smithfield's waste pile drains. An old man with twinkling blue eyes stuck his hand into the water, smelled his fingers and offered us a whiff. 'Smithfield Foods,' he announced.

Governor Nowakowski told us that there is another Smithfield factory, in Sedziny, that has 4,500 pigs but a permit for only 1,000 cows. He said his assistants were now inspecting the facility. 'But,' he explained, 'the legislation is very difficult for the local government to enforce [without state support].' Unfortunately, the federal government is not supporting the Wielkopolska authorities.

Nowakowski is not the only local politician begging for federal help. Zofia Wilczynska is a deputy in the Sejm, the lower house of Poland's national parliament. Wilczynska has complained to the federal government that a Smithfield operation in Polczyn Zdroj is endangering the northern Polish town's 400-year-old health spa. Right over by Poland's northeastern border with the Russian Federation enclave of Kaliningrad (former East Prussia) another health spa, in Goldap, is also threatened by pollution and odours from a Smithfield site.

The day after our visit to Wieckowice, a member of a parliamentary agriculture committee told us that the Polish government had recently conducted an investigation of 16 Smithfield farms (14 owned by the corporation and two owned by front groups it controlled). The agricultural ministry found that every one of the farms had broken Poland's veterinary, health and construction laws. Yet when Smithfield lacks proper permits, or is caught breaking the law, it is fined, laughably, just a few hundred dollars.

Sometimes Smithfield just buys officials off. A hundred miles north of Wieckowice, the mayor of the Western Pomeranian village Wierzchowo gave Smithfield permits for two enormous farms after the company paid his wife approximately $4,000 to perform the environmental impact assessment.

Local communities devastated

The economic impacts of Smithfield's production methods are devastating local communities and markets. When Smithfield took over Animex, the latter's three principal farms near Goldap employed 60 employees. Following the farms' conversion to automated pig factories, only seven of these workers remain.

Smithfield says it wants to produce 6 million pigs in Poland each year. Polish peasants currently rear 20 million pigs per year, and a quarter of them will have to lose their livelihoods to make way for Smithfield. The corporation is already squeezing the small farms. In Western Pomerania we found that the region's small slaughterhouses had already been closed, and that the remaining Smithfield-owned slaughterhouse would not slaughter pigs from small farms. The same will soon apply to the rest of Poland. Once Smithfield controls the slaughterhouses and has eliminated local markets, it will be able to control prices and, ultimately, the farms.

Avoiding the monoculture in Poland

Instead of reinventing itself to mimic the failed systems in Europe and the US, Poland should celebrate its assets and sell them to the world. Polish meat tastes much better than factory meat. Polish sausage is world famous. Consumers like knowing that their meat is from animals that were humanely raised in ways that are good for the environment, supportive of family farms, and free of dangerous hormones, antibiotics and chemicals. But all these things make quality meat more expensive than factory meat. And when the consumer sees free-range pork that does not look much different to a Smithfield cut, they will choose the cheaper product. The answer is branding.

When Europe opens its markets to Poland, the Poles should establish a market for their produce by using branding to draw attention to their traditional values. The AWI has offered the Polish government to help brand the country's pork internationally. The institute specialises in helping small farmers by finding consumers who are willing to pay a premium for produce that is healthy and raised humanely and without the use of antibiotics and hormones.

Anybody who pays a premium for Polish meat will be getting a good deal. Some of the meat and sausage that we gorged on in Poland was among the best we've tasted. Pork of the kind produced by traditional Polish farms is widely recognised to be tastier and juicier than confinement pork of the sort produced by Smithfield.

If Poland is going to flourish rather than flounder, the nation needs to recognise its enormous strengths and start believing in itself. The words 'produced in Poland' should become a standard for high quality. This is no easy challenge. But the easy way out, signing a contract with Smithfield, is not the solution.

A last bastion of tradition in Poland

Poland is an oasis of traditional farming in a world dominated by agribusiness multinationals. Around 2 million Poles, about 18 per cent of the country's population, are farmers or members of farming families. That's as many as the rest of central Europe put together.

The Polish landscape is not yet marked by the vast monocultures of row crops that are typical of the US. Currently, Poland is a country of picturesque farm villages, with farms that average five hectares and modest homes of wood, timber and fieldstone. Typically, each farmer has a horse, a couple of cows and some pigs and chickens. Animals are raised free range and humanely. And Polish farmers rotate a variety of crops in the traditional way that fosters healthy soils.
Many Polish farmhouses still have occupied stork nests on their roofs. The country hosts 25 per cent of the world's white stork population – some 50,000 pairs. – more than the whole of western Europe combined. Elsewhere in the continent the bird has been exterminated by modern agriculture practices: liquid manure and pesticides effectively wipe out the fish, frogs, crabs and insects that storks eat. In Denmark, for example, there are only six pairs left.

Poland has large stands of timber as well as the last sanctuaries of European bison and Europe's last clean-flowing unregulated rivers. It has purer soils than anywhere else in Europe. Its land is uncontaminated by pesticide and fertiliser residue and almost entirely free of the heavy metals caused by industrial smokestack pollution throughout the rest of Europe.

Smithfield's Tasteless Enterprise

Millions of years of natural selection have endowed pigs with back fat to regulate their body temperature. But Smithfield gets more money from meat than from fat, so the company has bred its own strain of super-lean pigs with almost no back fat. They are highly-strung and unable to survive normal outside temperatures.

Food professionals say this extreme leanness has dramatically diminished the quality of US pork. Food magazine Saveur described the pigs of modern confinement agriculture as being so skinny that they look 'like dachshunds'. While applauding traditional farming methods of the kind used in Poland, The New York Times Magazine stated: 'The pork industry has managed to engineer a pig with almost no fat at all. And this is why most modern recipes for pork involve some kind of liquid – putting the meat in a marinade before cooking, basting it while cooking or braising it in broth. If you simply grill a mass-market pork chop, it becomes inedibly dry.' The Times went on to say that free-range pork 'is rich when sliced and sautéed, fine textured and robust in flavour. It needs nothing more than seasoning with salt'. The dryness and poor taste of confinement pork have become so bad that many major pork companies are now 'enhancing' their pork: adding water, flavoured liquids, or even stock to their tray-pack and prepared meats, and using red food colouring to improve its drab appearance.

Financing the Slaughter

Financial institutions like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) use EU taxpayers' money to subsidise companies like Smithfield. The result? Small farmers disappear, food quality deteriorates, animal welfare suffers. Although it claims to be 'environmentally sensitive', the EBRD has joined with the Polish banks BRE and Rabobank Polska to provide a $100m loan to Smithfield's Polish subsidiary Animex.

The EBRD's 'project summary' states: 'Follow-up investigations of [EBRD] environmental staff and discussion with Smithfield management responsible for such issues demonstrated that the [Animex] facilities comply with the national requirements for environment, health and safety.' Yet the evidence suggests that the EBRD is consciously and deliberately backing a corporate takeover of Polish agriculture. The bank's press releases and 'transition impact' statements are full of talk about 'restructuring Poland's agribusiness and food industry'. The EBRD refers, for example, to the 'restructuring of the meat-processing sector' and 'the consolidation of the agribusiness sector'.

The reality is that Poland, like the rest of the modern world, is about to bury an ancient culture based on community living, family and land stewardship for the benefit of future generations. As Tom Garrett of the Animal Welfare Institute has lamented: 'There is no salvation to be found in industrial agriculture owned and controlled by foreign multinational corporations. There is only damage.'

For more information about the EBRD's involvement in Poland: www.bankwatch.org/issues/ebrd/animex/manimex.html.

HOW TO BYPASS SMITHFIELD PRODUCTS

As Smithfield buys local companies to front their operations, it is difficult to trace its products. The surest way of avoiding them is not to buy from supermarkets but to buy organic or locally produced pork from local butchers or farmers' markets instead. To find information about local producers, visit: www.localfood.org.uk or www.bigbarn.org.uk.

In the UK Smithfield's pork products are marketed under the brand name PEK. However, it is more than likely that Smithfield meat is also ending up in mass-produced products like pizzas. So, while not buying PEK-branded products is good, not buying anything containing non-organic pork is better.

Contribute to or join the AWI (www.awionline.org/membership); it is the only humane organisation fighting the cruelty of pig factory farming in Poland. But the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside is also doing important work. See its website at www.icppc.sfo.pl.

Robert Kennedy Jr is the president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots coalition dedicated to protecting water systems from pollution; Tracy Worcester is the associate director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (www.isec.org.uk), a non-profit organisation that aims to protect cultural and biological diversity

From Sweden to Iowa: Seeking Humaneness, Sustainability and Democracy in Agriculture

Northfield, MN -- The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, famous for bringing world-renowned musicians and romance to the rural Midwest, will be the site of an unprecedented gathering on Friday, April 5, 2002. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance, will be the keynote speaker during an all-day program on the urgent need to revitalize a culture of humane, environmentally-sound, independent family farming in Iowa, Minnesota and throughout the U.S.

The "Summit for Sustainable Hog Farming", sponsored by the non-profit Waterkeeper Alliance, with support from the Animal Welfare Institute and other organizations, brings together family farmers, scientists, attorneys, animal welfare advocates, fishermen, environmentalists, religious and labor leaders and public health activists, as well as citizens who suffer from living near animal factories.

At the special invitation of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Professor Bo Algers, Head of the Department of Animal Health and Environment at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, will focus on Sweden's experience in his presentation "Animals in Food Production: Sustainability and Democracy". Sweden captured the world's attention in 1986 when, at the request of Swedish farmers, it prohibited the routine use of antibiotics in raising animals for food, and again, in 1988, when Sweden required that all animals, including those used for food, be allowed to behave naturally. These statutes hastened Sweden's phase out of systems that impose extreme confinement and deprivation on animals used for food, and Sweden's progress toward a safe, ethical and sustainable food production system.

To help combat the extreme and unnecessary cruelty inherent in pig factories, the Animal Welfare Institute has established humane husbandry standards for raising pigs. Niman Ranch, a California-based marketing company famous for supplying high quality meat to fine restaurants, requires that the farmers from whom it buys pigs adhere to the Animal Welfare Institute standards. Bill Niman, co-founder of Niman Ranch, will discuss his company's mission and successful marketing to hundreds of restaurants and stores nationwide. Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle Mexican Grill, uses Niman Ranch pork exclusively in his restaurants. Mr. Ells will discuss Chipotle's philosophy and experience with marketing the products of healthy husbandry in his presentation "How a Simple Burrito Can Make A Difference."

Iowa pig farmers Paul Willis and Colin Wilson will describe their family farms, managed according to principles of humaneness and sustainability. Mr. Willis, who also serves as manager of the Niman Ranch Pork Company of Iowa, and Mr. Wilson, along with 180 other independent family farmers, adhere to AWI's husbandry standards and market pigs for a premium to Niman Ranch. Minnesota farmer Paul Sobocinski, program organizer with Land Stewardship Project, will discuss grassroots efforts to fight concentration in agriculture and promote humane, sustainable pig farming.

Registration for the Summit commences at 8:00 a.m. and the formal program begins at 9:00 a.m. The registration fee of $25.00 includes all programs and meals. Mr. Kennedy's address, at 7:00 p.m., will be free and open to the public. For more information, call Waterkeeper Alliance attorneys Nicolette Hahn or Jeff Odefey at 914-422-4410 or Animal Welfare Institute Farm Animal Advisor Diane Halverson at 507-645-8434, or visit the Waterkeeper Alliance website at www.waterkeeper.org. The Animal Welfare Institute website can be found at www.awionline.org. The full agenda for the Summit is attached.

The following is a complete list of the Hog Summit speakers, listed in the order they will appear:

Ms. Nicolette G. Hahn, Senior Attorney, Waterkeeper Alliance

Brother David Andrews, Executive Director, National Catholic Rural Life Conference (Iowa)

Mayor Kirk Kraft, Mayor, Clear Lake (Iowa)

Ms. Janice Weber, Producer/Director, JWCreative Solutions, Ltd.(New York)

Dr. Mike Duffy, Professor of Agricultural Economics, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University (Iowa)

Dr. Kendall Thu, Department of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University (Illinois)

Dr. Melva Fager Okun, Coordinator, North Carolina Keep Antibiotics Working campaign (North Carolina)

Mr. Robert Cook, Citizen activist and former hog confinement worker (Iowa)

Dr. David Wallinga, Director, Antibiotics Resistance Project, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) (Minnesota)

Dr. Michael Appleby, Vice President for Farm Animals and Sustainable Agriculture, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) (Washington, D.C.)

Dr. Michael R. Burkhart, Associate Professor Department of Geologic and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University (Iowa)

Dr. John Downing, Professor of Limnology, Department of Animal Ecology, Iowa State University (Iowa)

Ms. Martha Noble, Senior Policy Analyst, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (Washington, D.C.)

Mr. Ken Midkiff, Director, Sierra Club, Clean Water / CAFO Campaign (Missouri)

Mr. Paul Sobocinski, Farmer and Program Organizer for Land Stewardship Project (Minnesota)

Mr. Tom Frantzen, Hog Farmer for Organic Valley (Iowa)

Mr. Charlie Speer, Partner, Payne & Jones (Kansas)

Mr. Daniel E. Estrin, Counsel, Kennedy & Madonna (New York)

Ms. Anne Wiowode, Director, Mackinac Sierra Club (Michigan)

Mr. Harlan Hansen, Former hog farmer and County Supervisor, Humboldt County (Iowa)

Mr. Hugh Espey, Rural Project Director, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa)

Dr. Stephanie Seemuth, Family Physician (Iowa)

Dr. Jan Flora, Professor, Iowa State University (Iowa)

Mr. David Osterberg, Associate Clinical Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa (Iowa)

Ms. Diane Halverson, Farm Animal Advisor, Animal Welfare Institute (Minnesota)

Dr. Bo Algers, Professor, Swedish University of Agricultural Science (Sweden)

Ms. Theresa Marquez, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Organic Valley (Wisconsin)

Mr. Steve Ells, Founder & CEO, Chipotle Mexican Grill (Colorado)

Mr. Bill Niman, Founder, Niman Ranch (California)

Mr. Terry Spence, President, Family Farms for the Future and cattle farmer (Missouri)

Mr. Gary Hoskey, Hog farmer and President, Iowa Farmers Union (Iowa)

Ms. Marlene Halverson, Farm Animal Economic Advisor to Animal Welfare Institute (Minnesota)

Mr. Colin Wilson, Hog farmer and Immediate Past President, Practical Farmers of Iowa (Iowa)

Mr. Paul Willis, Hog farmer and Manager, Niman Ranch Pork Company of Iowa (Iowa)

Mr. Jim Braun, Citizen activist and former hog farmer (Iowa)

Mr. Bryan Burgess, Citizen activist cattle rancher (Alabama)

Mr. Don Webb, Citizen activist and former hog farmer (North Carolina)

Mr. Chris Petersen, Citizen activist and former hog farmer (Iowa)

Ms. Lisa Bechtold, Citizen activist and farmer (Alberta, Canada)

Mr. Kurtis Kelsey, Citizen activist and farmer (Iowa)

Ms. Karen Hudson, Citizen activist and farmer (Illinois)

Mr. Gary Bierschenk, Citizen activist and crop and hog farmer (Iowa)

Mr. Rick Dove, Waterkeeper Alliance Southeast Representative (North Carolina)

Mr. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President, Waterkeeper Alliance

Comfortable Quarters for Chickens

Second Part

A dustbath is used for care and cleaning of plumage and enhances the well-being of chickens. They prefer to dustbathe in groups. If the dustbath is provided outside, it should be roofed and should give protection from drafts. Quartz sand with charcoal and flowers of sulphur added is recommended as a dustbathing substrate.

Nesting behavior of hens includes nest investigation, scratching and pecking at the nest material, choosing a particular nest and entering it, forming a hollow, laying an egg, rolling an egg under the body, and brooding.

Hens prefer to lay their eggs at sheltered places where manipulatable materials are available. During the pre-laying phase, the hen leaves the flock and looks for an adequate nesting place. She investigates different places or nest boxes before deciding where to lay her eggs. A hollow is formed at the chosen nesting place. After 10 to 30 minutes, the hen gets up and lays an egg which she rolls under her body. She stays in the nest for a short period of time before joining the group again.

Appropriate housing for chickens must take the animals’ species-specific behaviors into account. A room may be readily transformed to suitable housing for chickens by placing a wire-mesh covered dropping pit on one side of the room and installing perches along the wall at different heights over the pit. The horizontal distance between two perches should be at least 35 cm (13.8 in.). The total perch-length is determined by the number of chickens and should be no less than 18 cm (7.1 in.) per animal.


Chickens naturally live in a stable social group. This photo shows a hen with almost-adult chicks and a cock.

A scratching are is an imperative to allow chickens to exhibit species-typical foraging behavior. A thin layer of sand covered by approximately 10 cm (3.9in.) of chopped straw provides a suitable substratum for this purpose. The scratching area should take up at least half of the floor area of the hen house.

Hens need adequate nest boxes, preferably with manipulatable material, like oat husks or chopped straws. One nest box should be provided for each 5 hens. Its dimension should be approximately 40x40cm (16x16 in.). If larger family nests are used, a nesting area of 1 m² (10.8 sq. ft.) per 50 hens is recommended.

Group size should not exceeded 80 animals, as chickens are only able to distinguish between 40 to 80 members of their own species. Stocking density should not exceed 5 birds per square meter (10.8 sq.ft.) of available surface area to avoid stress from overcrowding.

A variety of food should be offered to the chickens. If only meals or pellets are fed, the animals consume their ration too fast and do not spend enough time foraging. Bad habits such as feather pecking can easily develop under such conditions. To prevent this, grain should be provided in racks or in baskets hanging from the ceiling, so that the animals can pull and peck at the contents and keep busy.

  • 1. Water
    2. Used air
    3. Fresh air
    4. Family nest
  • 5. Food trough
    6. Nipple drinker
    7. Litter
    8. Perches
    9. Dropping pit
  • 10. Drainage
    11. Drainpipe
    12. Covered run with basket for greenstuff and extra space gained through use of third dimension

Chickens should have access to a box filled with sand so that they can take dustbaths. Dustbathing is a social activity which is usually performed by several chickens at the same time. The sand box should therefore be relatively spacious, i.e., 80x80 cm (31x31 in.).

A bad-weather run should be provided so that the chickens have exposure to natural daylight and seasonal temperature variations throughout the year. The run should have a roof so that chickens can have access to it even in bad weather, and wire-mesh walls so that the animals are protected from predators. It should be about half the size of the hen house and have a concrete floor covered with a layer of straw and sand.

1. Hen house
2. Gravel or wooden slats
3 & 4. Rotational runs
5. Electric fence
6. Dustbathing places

Gravel or wooden slats in front of the hen house.
SUGGESTIONS FOR AN OUTSIDE RUN
Whenever possible, chickens should be able to use an outside run covered with vegetation. To keep the turf intact, the outside run has to be divided and to be used alternately, otherwise the much-designed green is soon destroyed through pecking and scratching (3 & 4). The area can be divided with an electric fence (5). Ideally, the windward side is sheltered by hedges and structured with trees and bushes that give shade. Low bushes make it possible to put up netting to prevent birds of prey from catching chickens. If the pasture is not evenly used the old grass has to be cut down; it is therefore advisable when planting trees and bushes to make sure that the outside run can be maintained with machines (if big enough). In front of the hen house should be a layer of gravel or wooden slats, with drainage underneath, to assure that at the surface stays dry at this highly-frequented place. Dustbaths near bushes complete the outside run.

Anti-Cockfighting Bill Introduced in Congress

Colorado Senator Wayne Allard and Minnesota Congressman CollinPeterson have introduced legislation to eliminate a loophole inthe federal Animal Welfare Act which allows fighting birds tobe shipped from states where cockfighting is illegal to stateswhere the cruel "sport" is still allowed, Only threestates permit this inhumane, bloody activity: New Mexico, Louisianaand Oklahoma.

Currently, law enforcement officers have a difficult time crackingdown on illegal cockfights in the 47 states where it is banned.When confronted, cockfighters merely claim that the fighting birdsin their possession are destined for shipment to a legal cockfightingstate. Prosecution of these unscrupulous cockfighters would befacilitated if the Allard bill (S. 345) and the Peterson bill(H.R. 1275) become law.

Cockfightingis a centuries-old bloodsport in which two ormore specially hired roosters are forced into a pit to fight surroundedby gambling onlookers. Often, one or both birds die as a resultof the fight because their feet are fitted with razor sharp steelknives. The birds may end up with punctured wings, broken bonesand pierced eyes. Even the battle's "winner" may ultimatelydie from injuries sustained inthe fight. And birds that survive but are deemed unfit to fightagain are either killed by their owner or simply thrown in a garbagecan to suffer and die.

Independent of Senator Allard's federal legislative initiative,there is a move underway in Oklahoma to prohibit cockfightingwithin the state, joining Missouri and Arizona which just bannedcockfighting through citizen ballot initiatives last November.Oklahoma State Representative Charles Gray has introduced legislationto ban cockfighting specifically. Cockfighters in the state Suchas Walt Roberts, however, object to people trying "to endthe sport because it is not within their definition of what ishumane" according to Oklahoma's Tulsa World newspaper.

But Representative Gray is not alone in hisopposition to this horrible fighting. A statewide poll sponsoredby the Tulsa World revealed 2 to 1 opposition to cockfighting:if a cockfighting ban were put to a vote, 65 percent of Oklahomanswould vote in favor while only 30 percent would vote against.As long as there is powerful and vocal rural opposition in thestate, however, it is unlikely that the legislature would voteto end the cruel practice of cockfighting. This makes passageof Senator Allard's federal legislationall the more important.


AWI Quarterly, Spring 1999, Vol. 48, No.2, p. 10


Voters Reject Factory Farms

AWI Quarterly Fall/Winter1998-1999: Farm Animals


VotersReject Factory Farms
Anti-Factory FarmCandidates Win, Struggle Against Factory Farms Continues

by Tom Garrett

In 1998, the proliferation of hog factories, which has embroiledstate legislatures and county commissions for much of the decade,reached center stage as a national issue. On November 3, in thewords of the Wall Street Journal's Bruce Ingersoll, "Pigpolitics became big politics."

In the two states where the hog factory came directly beforethe people, the verdict was unequivocal. In Colorado, Initiative14, which places hog factories under moderately severe regulation,was approved by over 60% of the electorate. South Dakota AmendmentE, which bans corporate farming in the state altogether, gained59% of the popular vote despite a massive infusion of corporatecash and opposition from the state's Republican governor.

Lauch Faircloth was defeated by JohnEdwards (D, NC). Faircloth, according to CounterPunch (November1-15, 1998) "was part owner of Coharie Farms, the 30th largesthog producer in the country. Faircloth owned more than $1 millionworth of stock in two slaughterhouses. In Congress he attendedto the interests of the pig men as chairman of the Senate Subcommitteeon Clean Water, Wetlands, Private Property and Nuclear Safety."Environmentalists and small farmers across the state worked hardto defeat Faircloth. The Sierra Club flooded the airwaves withads linking Faircloth to water pollution and pfiesteria.

   
 Progress or Retrogression? Above Left: A relaxed group of pigs photographed on a family farm, almost a hundred years ago. Above right: Sows in a present-day factory farm. They can't even turn around in their 22-inch-wide gestation stalls. They express their desperation by attacking the bars that imprison them.

In Iowa, where hog factories haveblighted northern counties and driven most of Iowa's traditionalhog farmers out of business, the hog issue played heavily in DemocratTom Vilsack's crushing upset of Republican gubernatorial candidateJim Lightfoot. In neighboring Minnesota, Reform Party candidate,Jessie "The Mind" Ventura's victory sent a seismic shockthrough the American political establishment. The governor-electsupports a temporary moratorium on new hog factories.

Factory farming was also a factorin the unexpectedly severe defeat of anti-environmentalist Republicancandidate Ellen Sauerbrey by Maryland's incumbent governor, ParrisGlendening. Glendening received high marks for his crackdown onMaryland's huge chicken farms following the 1997 pfiesteria outbreakin the Chesapeake Bay area. Environmental protection was a definingissue in the campaign.

Despite political setbacks, the industryblitzkrieg shows no sign of abating. With the producer price ofhogs as Iowa as 9 cents a pound – the same price it was inthe Depression Era – the last of America's family hog farmersare being driven from the business, while corporations are engagedin a brutal battle for control of the hog market. In the meantime,thousands of citizens, from the New Melloray Monastery in Iowato Owyhee County, Idaho, are threatened by the insensate drivefor more, and still more, hog factories.


FIGHTING THE 'NEW FEUDAL RULERS'

Excerpts from the January 3, 1999
Washington Post
article by William Clairborne

"It's ironic when you think about our heritage in South Dakota, "said Johnson, 41, who took over the family farm when his father had a stroke in 1981. "'Our ancestors left the landlords and kings in Europe to come here for their economic freedom, and now we're making the big corporations the new feudal rulers ... Sometimes I think nobody is paying attention while the big corporations are just taking over the whole farm economy and destroying an American way of life. " [Charlie Johnson a farmer from Madison, South Dakota]

The article quotes another farmer:

"The feed comes from out of state, the hogs come from out of state and the hogs are shipped out of state for slaughter, " said Don Hoogestraat, who turned his third-generation family farm over to his son eight years ago. "That leaves us with nothing but the manure, and the farmer becomes a hired hand on his own farm. "

Hoogestmat, a former president of the South Dakota Pork Producers Council who is now critical of the council support of corporate-backed farming, accused big hog-producers of engaging in "planned overproduction" to temporarily drive pork prices down and force more family farms into contract feeding agreements. Earlier this month the price of hogs dropped to a 27-year low of 15 cents a pound in Sioux Falls – half of what it costs to produce – and in some parts of the country prices have dropped to less than 10 cents a pound.

US Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has announced a series of crisis measures, including a moratorium on government loans for new pork production plants. 


Animalsas Units of Production:
Industrial Agribusinessand Sentient Beings

By Ken Midkiff


Traditional farming operationstreated animals as individuals. A farmer knew the personalitiesof his milk cows as well as he did those of neighboring farmers.I knew which of my sows liked to have her back and ears scratched– and which one would try to viciously bite if I approached.When ewes rejected their lambs, we brought them into the houseand fed them from a bottle. As a small child, I knew which ofthe old roosters would attack me (some roosters are just damnedmean) and which could be carried around in my red wagon.

Somewhere between my childhood inthe 1940s and the 1970s, something went terribly wrong in foodproduction. Schools of agriculture and the USDA, taking theirmarching orders from agribusiness implement and chemical companiesstarted preaching the adoption of the Industrial Model. Get bigor get out. Volume of production is more important than quality.

A diversified, sustainable systemof integrated crops and animal production was abandoned in favorof monocultures. Farmers became specialists. Some grew only cornand soy beans. Others developed huge dairy or beef feedlot operations.This move had nothing at all to do with needing to feed the world,and everything to do with concentration of food production, andprofits, into the hands of a few large corporations. Market controlwas the goal. Not many more hogs or chickens are being grown todaythan in the past – only the methods have changed.

Poultry was the first to totallyconvert to the industrial model. Today there are almost no independentpoultry growers, all are either owned by or under contract withlarge corporations. The hog industry is going the same direction.

So what? Well, animals are now raisedin huge confinement structures, crammed in small pens or cages,given antibiotics to combat diseases (that can run rampant insuch stressful conditions). One conveyor brings in food, anothersystem transports out excrement. From a rather idyllic existenceon the family farm to a unit of production, packed in with thousandsof other units of production, animals are now treated as onlya product – much as any other industrial product. Just widgets.

Chickens raised for broilers for massconsumption are now grown in confinement structures that containup to 22,000 birds. Hatching to slaughter is only eight weeks.Those drumsticks at Kentucky Fried Chicken are from a two-monthold chicken. The methods of production are nasty, brutish, andshort.

Hogs are raised in arguably worseconditions. Mortality rates are very high. Sows in gestation stallsand farrowing crates cannot turn around. In the "finishinghouses" where pigs are fed from around 55 pounds to slaughtersize, there are from 1,200 to 2,500 hogs in a building. Emissionsof hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from excrement and urine are sostrong that large exhaust fans must run constantly to remove thetoxic gases from the houses. If the fans shut off for more than15 minutes, hogs begin succumbing to the gases.

In the heat of summer, the overcrowdedconditions in poultry operations lead to massive die-offs. Duringthe record breaking heat-wave last year in Texas, Oklahoma andArkansas, millions and millions of hens and broilers suffocatedin their packed cages. All the media focused on was the monetarylosses were to the owners and growers, not to the miserable deathsof millions of living creatures.

Chickens also suffer from the misfortunesof their owners or growers. In southwest Missouri, a bankruptpoultry house owner simply walked away and left 12,000 hens tostarve and die. Two years later, the skeletons of thousands ofhens remain packed in their little cages in a crumbling poultryhouse overgrown with weeds. A horror story in the best StephenKing tradition – and one that pretty much sums up industrial-strengthhog, chicken and egg production.

Ken Midkiff, formerly a hog farmer,now is the Director of the Missouri Sierra Club


ACall for Strong Enforcement of the Federal HumaneSlaughter Act

In 1958, following overwhelming publicsupport, the Humane Slaughter Act was adopted. In 1978, the FederalMeat Inspection Act was amended to empower USDA inspectors tostop the slaughter line on the spot if any cruelty is observed.Once the line has stopped, slaughter may not legally recommenceuntil deficiencies, whether of equipment, or of abuses by personnel,are corrected. Since that time the public has assumed that thelaw has been enforced. Gail Eisnitz' s 1997 book, Slaughterhouse(see AWI Quarterly Fall 1997), was a rude awakeningto the fact that deregulation had caused enormous speed-ups inthe slaughter line so that animals were no longer being slaughteredin conformity with the law. On the contrary, the book revealedthat fully conscious pigs and cows were being beaten, strangled,scalded, skinned and dismembered in the nation's slaughterhouses.

Two government reports, "Surveyof Stunning and Handling in Federally Inspected Beef, Veal, Pork,and Sheep Slaughter, Plants" January 7, 1997) and "SpecialSurvey on Humane Slaughter and Ante-Mortem Inspection" (March1998) provide further documentation of the failure of slaughterplants to handle and kill animals humanely. Many apparent violationsof federal law were found despite the fact that the these inspectionsof slaughter plants were announced in advance, providing ampleopportunity for plant managers to cover-up.

The 1997 report documented excessiveuse of electric prods, slippery floors and hazardous ramps, citing64% of the slaughter plants visited for ineffective use of captivebolt stunners to render animals unconscious and insensible. The1998 report noted that "it is considered inhumane to allowan animal to regain consciousness after the stunning procedure,so the bleeding should be done as quickly as possible after stunning."Yet, 57.6% of the plants permitted a lengthy period of time betweenstunning and bleeding. The report concludes that 28% of the plantsvisited have "serious problems." A detailed resolutioncalling for strong enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act waspresented to the United States Animal Health Association's AnimalWelfare Committee by AWI's Director Cathy Liss. The USAHA representsfederal and state regulatory veterinarians throughout the nationand has done so since its founding in 1897. Seeking to quash attentionto this issue, a representative of the Livestock Marketing Associationobjected to virtually all of the text claiming it could not besubstantiated. The industry representative even objected to textcited from the two government studies, claiming that these studies,too, could not be substantiated. In the interest of obtainingthe necessary votes to adopt a resolution in support of the HumaneSlaughter Act, a compromise version was agreed. The final resolution,which appears in the box, was adopted by the Animal Welfare Committeeof the USAHA. On the following day it was adopted by the fullboard of the Association.


 

 RESOLUTION ADOPTED AT THE OCTOBER 1998 USAHA MEETING

THE UNITED STATES ANIMAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION ENCOURAGES STRONG EN-
FORCEMENT OF THE FEDERAL HUMANE SLAUGHTER ACT BY USDA's FOOD SAFETY AND
INSPECTION SERVICE TO PREVENT ABUSES TO ANIMALS PROTECTED UNDER THE ACT.

(The mission of USAHA is to be a forum for communication and coordination among state and federal
governments, universities, industry and other groups on issues of animal health and disease control, animal welfare, food safety and public health.)


EUBans Sub-therapeutic Use of Drugs

As of January, four widely used growth-enhancingantibiotic drugs will be banned for use in the European Union.

Unlike therapeutic or medicinal drugs,sub-therapeutic drugs are not used to help a sick animal recover,but rather to induce rapid and unnatural growth or keep a stressedanimal from dying while in cruel factory farms. Up to 80 percentof all Europe's cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry are given sub-therapeuticantibiotics.

Britain, Sweden, Germany, and Franceled the campaign to exclude the use of the drugs as growth-enhancers.Three nations, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium abstained from thevote, arguing that the ban will push up the price of meat. Denmarkand Sweden already enforce a unilateral ban on sub-therapeuticdrugs.

Several large agencies, includingthe World Health Organization, The British House of Lords, andthe British National Consumer Council have spoken out againstsub-therapeutic drugs. The Soil Association, representing Britain'sorganic farmers, reports that the use of antibiotics had increasedby up to 150 times in the past 30 years. Their press release reads,"We must create a new climate in which animals are kept inmore natural, less stressful conditions and are routinely treatedwith respect, rather than antibiotics."


FACTORY FARMSDEEMED NOT ORGANIC

Controversy over the labelling of organicanimal products was resolved by a January 14, 1999 decision ofthe US Department of Agriculture. By early spring, stores willhave USDA certified products. The organic label means that animalshave not been confined to the dreadful factory farms wherethey are virtually immobilizedin tiny cages andstalls during their entire lives of painful imprisonment.Instead, the animals must have access to pasture, fresh air andsunshine and not be given growth hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics.


AWI Quarterly Fall/Winter1998-1999, Vol. 47/48, No. 4/1

Cow Rescue

A Cow Who Took Matters into HerOwn Hooves

Emily the cow was on her way to a slaughterhouse in Hopkinton,Massachusetts in November 1995, when she evidently decided shewould rather be free. The three-year-old, 1,400-pound holsteinheifer bravely leaped over a five-foot fence. For 40 days and40 nights following her daring escape, she managed to live inthe woods around the town, foraging for food and hobnobbing witha herd of deer.

As the escaped cow cleverly evaded capture, people began rootingfor her. Emily's partisans left out hay for her and shielded herwhereabouts from authorities and from the slaughterhouse's employees."Like some bovine pimpernel," reported People magazine,"she was sought everywhere but never captured."

Emily's story excited the interest of animal lovers Meg and LewisRanda, who have given many animals sanctuary at their Life ExperienceSchool, a school for children with special needs in Sherborn,Massachusetts. The A. Arena & Sons slaughterhouse ended upselling Emily to the Randas for $1, reasoning that the cow hadrun off much of her value.

Meg Randa, who took great care to assure Emily that she and herfamily were vegetarians, coaxed the elusive heifer into a trailerwith a bucket of feed. The Randas had their Christmas dinner outsidein the barn with Emily, who now lives, and serves as a teacher,at the Life Experience School.

This cow-rageous Holstein has become quite famous, as her storyhas appeared in countless newspaper and magazine articles, aswell as coverage by CBS and a forthcoming children's book. Thereare rumors of a film being planned, but Emily is keeping quietabout whether she is destined to become a ruminant movie star.

Emily has become something of a cult figure, as sympathizers havepledged in her presence to stop eating meat. She has also beenbovine-of-honor at a human wedding that took place in the Randas'barn.


AWI Quarterly Winter 1996, Vol. 45, No. 1, p. 12.

Birth Intervals in Cattle Raised for Meat: Belief and Fact

by Viktor and Annie Reinhardt

It is commonly believed that calves must be artificially weaned so thatthe cow gives birth at the most frequent possible intervals. We had theunique opportunity to question the justification of this belief by comparingthe reproductive performance of 18 cows who were allowed to raise theircalves beyond the age of natural weaning with the reproductive performanceof 96 other cows who were subjected to the traditional forced weaning managementsystem. Both categories of cows lived on the same ranch, in herds of approximately50 animals including two mature bulls per herd.

The calves of the "managed" cows were taken away from theirmothers at the age of about eight months and raised in separate groups.Shortly thereafter, the mothers were also removed from the original herdand re-grouped in other herds. These artificial disruptions of social relationshipswere extremely disturbing for the animals, and it took several days oreven weeks until they calmed down again and established new relationshipswith the members of the new groups.

The calves of the "semi-wild" cows were naturally weaned bytheir mothers: female calves at the age 7-12 months, male calves at theage of 9-14 months. The weaning did not impair in any way the affectionatebond between mother and calf. In fact, the mother-calf bond was the foundationof the herd's cohesive social structure (see photo).

The performance of cattle is usually assessed by calculating the timelapse between two births. This so-called calving interval averaged 388days in the semi-wild cows, versus 494 days in the managed cows.

The difference of 106 days was statistically significant, indicatingthat the performance was enhanced when the calves were allowed to staywith their mother rather than when they were artificially weaned by beingtaken away from the maternal herd.

The better performance of the semi-wild cows could not be attributedto different climatic or nutritional conditions. In contrast to the managedcows, however, the semi-wild cows lived in a stable social environment.It was probably this stability of the social environment that accountedfor the animals' better reproductive performance. Artificially breakingnot only the bond between mothers and their still nursing calves but alsofriendship relationships between the mothers and other herd members, apparently,constituted a severe stress situation for the managed cows which resultedin a depression of their reproduction.

The affectionate mother-calf bond
is the foundation of a cattle herd's
cohesive social structure. A study
by Viktor and Annie Reinhardt
suggests that the bond lasts for
life under natural conditions.
Here, cow Dora grooms her
eight-year old daughter Riese
while grandson Rick is taking
a nap. Photo by Viktor Reinhardt.

Our observations challenge the inertia of tradition, demonstrating thatreproduction of beef cattle is enhanced rather than reduced whencows are allowed to wean their calves at the biologically determined age.Interfering in biological processes may satisfy man's ambition to havecontrol over them, but this is bound to have unforeseen repercussions ifthe biological process is not properly understood. Interfering in the naturalweaning process of cattle not only inflicts avoidable emotional pain butit also unnecessarily diminishes the animal's natural reproductive potential.


AWI Quarterly Spring/Summer 1997, Volume 46, Numbers 2 &3

Comfortable Quarters for Chickens

by Marlene Hoefner, Marion Staack and Detlef W. Foelsch

By Marlene Hölner, Marion Staack and and Detlef W. Foelsch
FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE, INTERNATIONAL RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL BEHAVIOR AND MANAGEMENT, NORDBAHNHOPSTR. 1A, D-37213 WITZENHAUSEN, GERMANY

Neither thousands of years domestication nor the recent extreme selective breeding for productivity have fundamentally altered the behavior of chickens. This has to be kept in mind when suitable housing for chickens is designed. The different behaviors shown by chickens can be categorized as follows:

Foraging behavior includes searching and finding food, scratching, and drinking.

Chickens spend 35 to 50% of the day scratching and pecking for food. A lot of different food items such as seeds, fruits, grass, insects, worms and berries are consumed by chickens if they are available to them. If the animals do not spend a major portion of the day foraging because of freely accessible standardized food, such as meal or pellets, they tend to peck, pull and tear at objects or conspecifics , and often develop feather pecking behavior.



The food trough should be big enough to hold food for one day. It should only be filled 2/3 to ¾ to prevent the chickens wasting food.


A drinking trough is suitable for up to 15 animals.
A container to store greenstuff, if no outside run covered with vegetation is provided, could look like this. The food can be more easily consumed by the chickens than greenstuff (grass, young stinging nettle, dandelion, etc) lying on the ground, and it does not get dirty.
A container with grill should stand in every hen house. The small sham-edge stones are important for digestion in the chickens

 

For resting, sleeping and withdrawal, chickens prefer elevated places, natural trees and bushes. This is why perches should be provided in a hen house. It is sensible to install the perches over a dropping pit so that the animals do not come in contact with their feces.

Chicks and young hens should get perches early in the life so that they learn perching and use the third dimension.

Locomotive behavior includes walking, running, flying and wing flapping.

Studies have shown that hens walk about 1 to 1.5 km (0.6-0.9 mi.) per day and that they fly to and from elevated places if they have the opportunity to do so.

Resting behavior includes standing, lying, sleeping, and dozing. Chickens prefer to sleep on elevated places rather than on ground. Therefore, they should always have access to perches.

Maintenance or Comfort behavior includes preening, stretching, flapping, dustbathing, sunbathing and body shaking. To keep their feathers in good condition, chickens must be able to preen themselves and take dustbaths. They will frequently sunbathe if they are given the opportunity. Daylight controls and triggers may of their physiological processes. It also stimulates their metabolism, plays an important part in the formation of red and white blood cells and vitamin D, and promotes the secretion of hormones necessary for growth and reproduction.

Social behavior includes conspecific-oriented pecking, threatening, chasing, kicking, fighting, avoiding, crouching, vocalizing, and reproductive behavior.

In the wild, hens and cocks of different ages lie in small groups and form a cohesive community. One cock lives in a group with about seven hens. The social structure of a flock depends on physiological, psychological and physical state of each member and is influenced by the appearance of the individuals-for example, whether the hen is ill or injured, is moulting, is brooding or has chicks. A stable rank order is formed within a small group of chickens on the basis of personal preference, threat and avoidance behavior, and factors such as age and the size of the comb.

Social interactions can be friendly (positive), for example a cock calling his hens to a food source, or they can be agonistic (negative), for example one hen chasing another hen away from a limited food source.

Farm Animals: Issues


Sweeping Changes or Sweeping Under the Rug?

by Henry Spira

Does the recent announcement of sweeping new changes to meat inspectionopen opportunities to push the farm animal welfare issue onto the nationalagenda? Harmful bacteria kill more than 4,000 people a year and sickenfive million. The new policy calls for a more scientific approach to detectingE. coli and salmonella in meat and poultry. But just like the old policy,the focus remains on dealing with effects and ignoring causes. It coversup the consequences of the stressful conditions in which this country'sfarm animals are raised.

Today's endemic disease in farm animals is not the natural order ofthings. One need only see the filthy and cramped environments in whichtoday's chickens, turkeys, pigs and veal calves are raised to see the reasonfor the epidemic. When living beings are crammed indoors on a thick bedof fecal waste and forced to spend a lifetime choking on ammonia fumes,is it so surprising that the end result is diseased meat?

As the intensity of confinement has increased, so has the prevalenceof food borne diseases. The direct relationship between stress and diseaseis well documented. In humans and other animals.

There's an urgent need to focus on the causes of these illnesses andon prevention. It is universally recognized that prevention is more costeffective and more conducive to promoting well-being than treating diseasesafter the fact.

Such a prevention campaign could begin by examining the connection betweenthe escalating abuses of intensive confinement systems, the parallel demiseof animal health and the increase of food borne illnesses in humans whoeat them.

While our ideal is the non-violent dinner table, we recognize that eatinghabits tend to change slowly. As long as people continue to consider animalsas edibles, we need to relentlessly pressure industry and government todevelop, promote and implement humane standards in the rearing, transportand handling of farm animals. Reducing farm animal suffering would benefitboth the public and the animals.

There's another critical defect which remains unaddressed in the newprocedures. The USDA is mandated, by law, to both assure the safety ofmeat and at the same time promote the meat industry.

The futility of the government taking on conflicting roles was recentlydemonstrated by the ValuJet disaster. Just as in the case of aviation,the government cannot be an advocate for food safety while simultaneouslypromoting the meat industry.

Why the government should spend taxpayer dollars to market meat productsfor a multi-billion dollar industry defies logic. The health risks associatedwith a meat-centered diet are increasingly well documented. Would governmentmoney not be better spent in protecting public health? Current thinkingseems to be that the government should get out of the business of promotingthe airlines. It doesn't belong in the business of promoting meat either.


Henry Spira, Coordinator of Animal Rights International, was awardedAWI's 1996 Albert Schweitzer Medal .


AWI Quarterly Spring/Summer 1996, Volume 45, Numbers 2 &3


Is the Public Ready to Roast the Meat Industry?

by Henry Spira

For decades, the well-being of farm animals has been a largely ignoredissue. So it may come as a surprise that most Americans want animals tobe protected from cruelty. This is the overall finding of a recent telephonesurvey of 1,012 adults by the Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton,New Jersey, for Animal Rights International.

The survey found that 93% of US adults agreed that animal pain and sufferingshould be reduced as much as possible even though the animals are goingto be slaughtered anyway.

Nine out of ten adult Americans also disapprove of current methods ofraising food animals in spaces so confining that sows and calves can'teven turn around and that laying hens are unable to stretch their wings.

With these concerns, it's hardly surprising that more than eight outof ten people think the meat and egg industries should be held legallyresponsible for protecting farm animals from cruelty. And that 91% thinkthe US Department of Agriculture should be involved in protecting farmanimals from cruelty.

What may well alarm corporate executives is that on top of this, 58%of the public also believes that fast food restaurants and supermarkets,who profit from factory intensive farming, should be held legally responsiblefor protecting farm animals from cruelty.

Too often, in the past, animal protectionists have ignored the 95% ofanimals who do not necessarily rank high in popularity. But, this studyshows that the American public cares about all vulnerable animals. And,as demonstrated by the recent successful campaign to abolish the face brandingof cattle, they are ready to confront and challenge abuses in animal agriculture.

As the public focuses on the horrors of factory farming, smart-thinking,image-conscious corporations, who profit from animal agriculture, woulddo well to respond swiftly and pro-actively. The alternative will almostcertainly be a consumer backlash as animal protectionists begin to launchpublic awareness campaigns. In this connection, we have begun to use thesurvey to talk with major companies such as Campbell Soup, Heinz and PepsiCoabout setting humane animal standards for themselves and their suppliers.This was the successful formula which energized Revlon and the whole cosmeticsindustry in the 1980s.

Pressures on the meat-industrial complex will continue to intensifyfrom all directions. In addition to farm animal well-being issues, intensiveconfinement systems will be increasingly challenged on the grounds of publichealth, protecting the environment, feeding the starving millions and leavingsome quality of life for future generations.


AWI Quarterly Fall 1995, Volume 44, Number 4


Do Animal Protection Laws Dupe the Public?

by Henry Spira

"If, as Mahatma Gandhi states, 'The greatness of a nation and itsmoral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated', the UnitedStates is being left behind by much of Western Europe." So says DavidWolfson in a soon to be published study documenting the fact that presentlaws are of no help to the cruel realities suffered by seven billion farmanimals. Wolfson, an attorney in a major international law firm, suggeststhat while farm animals have no real legal protection, society perceivesthat they do.

As outlined by Wolfson, laws give the perception of protecting farmanimals but, in reality, provide little or no protection. Federal law failsto provide any protection to farm animals on the farm. Moreover, whilemany state cruelty laws still cover farm animals in theory, they are rarelyif ever applied. And most disconcerting is the trend of farm animals beingincreasingly excluded from the reach of state cruelty laws.

At present, 25 states exclude "accepted farming practices"from the reach of such cruelty laws. Nineteen states amended their statutesin the last twelve years. Eleven of these amended their statutes in thelast six years and in just the past year, two states amended their statecruelty statutes to exclude accepted animal agricultural practices. Theresult is that any "accepted farming practice" is legally permitted-- no matter how cruel. Obviously, there would be no need to amend statecruelty laws were there not the fear that accepted practices would be judgedcruel. In effect, Wolfson states, animal agriculture has been left to regulateitself.

Consequently, our legal system appears to acquiesce to dragging a halfdead cow, chained around her hind leg, through the stockyards and keepingcalves deliberately anemic by depriving them of the most basic foods andwater while imprisoning them in wooden crates for their entire short, utterlymiserable lives. "The reality in the US", says Wolfson "isthat our society, through its laws, seemingly condones cruelty to animals."

Is this how the American public wants farm animals to be treated? Muchhas happened in the past few years to suggest that not only are increasingnumbers of people opposed to the routine and needless misery inflictedon seven billion farm animals each year, but that industry and governmentare finally beginning to respond to the public's concerns

Encouraging developments include USDA's rapidly halting the face brandingof Mexican cattle in the wake of widespread public outrage. And the USDAthen following through by placing the issue of farm animal well-being ontheir agenda. Earlier, the American Meat Institute issued groundbreakingguidelines promoting the humane handling and transport of animals. MajorAmerican slaughter houses have recently replaced the shackling and hoistingof large conscious animals. And fast food giant McDonald's has told itssuppliers to adhere to guidelines for more humane treatment of farm animals.

These reforms are encouraging. Still, life for farm animals has neverbeen more miserable. Today, the only limits to increasing the confinementand trauma of farm animals are economic. The only reason they don't crammore laying hens into a cage is because the increased mortality would makeit less profitable. The same thing holds true for the pigs and veal calvesroutinely denied the most basic freedoms to turn around, lie down, andextend their limbs.

The enormous response to our recent campaign to end the face brandingof Mexican cattle suggests that the public will not tolerate animal abuseif it is made aware of the facts. But, as Wolfson notes, the public believesthat "although we eat animals, there are laws which prevent theseanimals from being treated cruelly." In reality, farm animals arebeing subjected to ever more stressful confinement systems and have nolegal protection.

How do we proceed? The public may want to replace or reduceits consumption of meat. At a minimum we can all agree that as long asthe public eats meat, there's a need to refine current methodsof animal agriculture. But in order to make informed choices, we need toknow the realities of confinement systems, transport, handling, and slaughterof farm animals. We also need to understand the lack of legal protectionfor farm animals and the need for a farm animal protection bill. The USDAand producer groups must be encouraged to promote the well-being of farmanimals. Users of the products of animal agriculture need to enforce morehumane standards for their suppliers.

Until the seven billion farm animals do have legal protection, agribusinessesneed to respond rapidly and substantively to emerging public concerns.If they don't, let's place them in the unenviable position of having topublicly defend their right to be cruel.


USDA Reviews Livestock Care and Handling atNation's Stockyards

In October, the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Packers and StockyardsAdministration announced completion of its review of handling practices,services, and facilities in US stockyards. USDA conducted the review inresponse to public complaints of cruel treatment of downed animals at stockyards."Downers" are animals who are unable to walk or stand withoutassistance.

USDA sent warning letters to 52 markets, citing practices that mustbe corrected or discontinued immediately. Eighty one downed animals wereobserved at 66 markets. A total of 1,415 markets were inspected. USDA issuedadministrative complaints against two stockyards for the manner in whichthey handled downed animals. In addition, seven warning letters were sentto markets for failure to provide proper care and handling of downed animals.

Downers suffer horribly, particularly during transport. When callingfor support of a 1992 Senate bill requiring the humane euthanasia of downedlivestock, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Country Today stated: "Withthe exception of a rare injury during trucking to a livestock auction houseor slaughterhouse, an animal that cannot walk off a truck when it arrivesat an auction point or slaughterhouse is an animal that was too ill tobe shipped in the first place."


Henry Spira, who has been active in human and animal rights movementsfor half a century, has coordinated successful campaigns to promote alternativesto the use of animals in laboratories. He has been a merchant seaman, autoassembly line worker, Journalist, teacher, and an activist for civil rightsand trade union democracy. He is now focusing on the plight of seven billionfarm animals and plans to write a column regularly for the AWI Quarterly.


AWI Quarterly Winter 1995, Volume 44, Number 1, p.11


Farm Animals - AWI

News:
The Animal Welfare Institute is pleased to help sponsor the 42nd Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology
 

The 42nd Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology will be held at University College Dublin, Ireland from 5-9 August 2008. Our aim is to make the congress dynamic with a new approach to workshops that will facilitate the exchange of ideas between participants.  For more information, click here.


New Jersey Supreme Court Hears Appeal in Landmark Farm Animal Welfare Case

Trenton, NJ (July 11, 2007) - New Jersey's Supreme Court has granted a petition to hear a landmark case challenging the state's "humane" standards for the treatment of farm animals. These regulations currently permit numerous inhumane practices, including housing pregnant pigs for months at a time in cramped gestation crates, tethering and confining calves raised for veal until they are sent to slaughter, and performing mutilations without anesthesia—including castration, de-beaking, de-toeing and tail docking.

The Animal Welfare Institute is part of a broad coalition of humane organizations, farmers, veterinarians, and environmental and consumer groups that petitioned the court in April 2007 to reverse a lower court's February 16, 2007 ruling upholding the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's (NJDA) approval of some of the most egregious factory farm abuses as "humane." The appeal goes beyond any previous legal action taken on behalf of farm animals in that it seeks a judicial declaration that many common factory-farming practices are inhumane under New Jersey law.


New Food Seal Sets Highest Standards for Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Animal Welfare Approved Surpasses Other Seals; First Humane Program to Champion Family Farms and Repudiate Double Standards in Other Labeling Programs

New Standards Supported by Farmers, Top Chefs and Notables Such as Willie Nelson, Rosemary Harris and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Please visit www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org, the new website for the Animal Welfare Approved standards program.


Please Help These Chickens

You may think you're looking at rabbits. But according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you're looking at chickens. And chickens, says the USDA, are not really animals.

  • Click here to view this ad recently featured in the New York Times by the Humane Farming Association, Animal Rights International and Animal Welfare Institute.

"Scenes from USDA Inspected Slaughterhouses"

Animal Welfare Institute and Humane Farming Association release new video footage entitled "Scenes from USDA Inspected Slaughterhouses"  To view video click here.

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