The US Department of Agriculture recently finalized a new waiver system whereby bird slaughter plants can apply to increase their line speed to 175 birds per minute. Before finalizing the waiver system, the USDA took public comments on its proposed criteria for applicants. AWI vehemently opposed the proposal because it included no mechanisms for ensuring that increased speeds would not cause inhumane handling.
AWI asked the USDA to require, as a condition to any waiver, that processors comply with good commercial practices (GCP)—a voluntary system that addresses humane handling of birds at slaughter. In September, the USDA published a notice in the Federal Register indicating that it has essentially adopted our recommendation: To receive a waiver, a plant must have had no violations of GCP in the preceding 120 days. AWI believes this condition provides a strong incentive for plants to adhere to better practices and avoid incidents that result in greater suffering for birds.