In September 2013, AWI received notification from USDA that it intends to act on AWI’s petition and amend the regulations governing the export of animals to foreign countries. A proposed rule will be published for public comment, probably in 2014. AWI will continue to press USDA to strengthen the regulations to protect the welfare of animals transported to international markets.
Two years ago, large numbers of animals—many of them pregnant dairy cattle—began leaving the United States to establish breeding herds in Turkey, Russia and Kazakhstan. Last year alone, about 100,000 cattle were shipped from the eastern U.S. coast on sea voyages lasting more than two weeks.
When these massive shipments began, AWI warned the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that the risk of injury and death during long-distance journeys was high. AWI requested that the agency, at a minimum, establish animal “fitness to travel” requirements. Unfortunately, USDA failed to act on AWI's petition.
AWI recently received word that 400 cattle, among a shipment of 3,900 animals, have died en route to Russia. The deaths have been attributed to a breakdown in manure removal and ventilation systems, causing the animals to suffocate on ammonia fumes.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Tell USDA that you expect it to ensure the well-being of animals being exported from the United States, and that if the agency is not capable of doing so, that exports involving long-distance transport should not be approved.
You can send a message to USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack here. Sample language is included, but please consider personalizing the sample message to give your letter more impact.
Please share this Dear Humanitarian eAlert with friends, family and coworkers, and ask them to do the same. As always, thank you for your continued and critical support on this important issue.
Farm Animal Program Manager