None is needed at this time.
The comment period has closed. AWI will continue to monitor this issue, and we will alert our supporters if further action is needed.
The chicken industry has petitioned the USDA to allow waivers of the maximum line speeds prescribed for poultry slaughter plants. The current limit is an already dizzying speed of 140 to 175 birds per minute. But the National Chicken Council (NCC) wants certain chicken slaughter plants to be able to operate without any line speed limits whatsoever.
Nowhere in the NCC petition is there any mention of the potential ramifications of the proposed change on the birds themselves. Increased line speed poses a risk to bird welfare by giving workers less time to perform shackling, which can lead to an increase in painful injuries like bruises and fractures. Higher line speed also means that more birds may be inadequately stunned, resulting in an increase in conscious birds entering the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tank, where they are burned before drowning.
The problems presented by increased speed are exacerbated by the fact that the USDA has failed to adopt any regulations governing the humane handling and slaughter of poultry. Creating the requested waiver system also amounts to rulemaking without meeting legal requirements.
Please join AWI in urging the USDA to deny the NCC petition. You can use AWI's Compassion Index to submit your comments by the December 13th deadline. (Note: your name and comments will be publicly viewable on Regulations.gov. If you prefer to comment directly, you can do so by going to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FSIS-2017-0045.)
Be sure to share our "Dear Humanitarian" eAlert with family, friends and co-workers, and encourage them to comment, too. The comment period on this petition closes soon, so don’t delay and take action today!