Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Animal care standards bill advances in Kentucky

March 29, 2010 by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News

A bill to create a Livestock Care Standards Commission in Kentucky has been passed by the Kentucky House and could soon be headed to the governor for his signature.

The legislation—which is backed by Kentucky Farm Bureau—is designed to limit groups such as the Humane Society of the United States from trying to get tougher livestock care rules implemented in the state. If approved, the new commission could recommend on-farm animal care regulations to an existing state agriculture board, which could adopt them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eating Less Meat Won't Curb Climate Change, Air Quality Expert Says

Monday, March 22, 2010 (American Meat Institute)

Consuming less meat will not reduce our greenhouse gas production, a leading air quality expert said on Monday, Agence France-Presse reports. Frank Mitloehner, a professor at the University of California-Davis, delivered his remarks during a conference of the American Chemical Society in California.

Mitloehner is the author of the published study, “Cleaning the Air: Livestock’s Contribution to Climate Change,” which asserts that despite often repeated claims, it is simply not scientifically accurate to blame livestock for climate change. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Advances in Agronomy.

Mitloehner traces much of the public confusion over meat and milk’s role in climate change to a 2006 United Nations report, titled "Livestock's Long Shadow," which he says overstates the role livestock play in greenhouse gas emissions.

These statements are not accurate, yet their wide distribution through news media have put us on the wrong path toward solutions, Mitloehner said.

"We certainly can reduce our greenhouse-gas production, but not by consuming less meat and milk… but by increasing efficient meat production in developing countries, where growing populations need more nutritious food,” Mitloehner says.

To view the abstract of Mitloehner’s report, click here

Thursday, March 18, 2010

States Considering Livestock Care Standards Board

Idaho and Missouri are taking preemptive action to protect livestock production.
Compiled by staff at Farm Futures
Published: Mar 16, 2010

The Idaho Senate has approved a bill that would set up a Livestock Care Standards Board. The board would be similar to the one voted in last November in Ohio. Like Ohio, Idaho hopes to get ahead of any efforts by the Humane Society of the United States to influence animal welfare laws in the state.

The legislation has yet to pass the Idaho House. If it goes into law it would create a 13-member committee that would include representatives from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, statewide organizations for dairy, livestock and cattle professionals and legislators and would make recommendations on animal care.

In Missouri, a bill is moving through the Missouri General Assembly that would protect livestock care practices in that state. The Missourians for Animal Care Coalition supports the bill, because it would protect the right to raise animals in Missouri. The Coalition says there are animal rights extremist groups like the Humane Society of the United States trying to get a ballot initiative that would put severe limitations on the ability of anyone to own and raise animals.

The intent of the bill, according to Missouri Farm Bureau's legislative director Leslie Holloway, is to try to ensure that additional restrictions on raising animals, whether it be livestock or dogs or whatever the case may be, are under the jurisdiction of the General Assembly rather than interests that might come in from out of state such as the Humane Society of the United States.

If passed, the animal care constitutional amendment would join a HSUS-backed bill on this fall's state-wide ballot that would crack down on dog breeders in the state.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Animal rights lawyers: A three-ring circus

By DAVID MARTOSKO - Special to The Telegraph Sunday, Marcy 14, 2010

What do Ponzi schemes, corrupt cops and organized-crime families have in common? They’ve all been taken down under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. This is a law that can result in enhanced criminal and civil penalties for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

But the latest RICO defendants aren’t wiseguys from a real-life Club Ba-Da-Bing. They’re a handful of animal rights groups, their lawyers and a pay-for-play federal court witness.

Last month the owners of the popular Ringling Brothers circus filed a federal RICO lawsuit against the Humane Society of the United States, two of its lawyers, a Washington, D.C. law firm, and several other animal rights groups. The defendants are accused of committing bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice and money laundering, all in a nine-year scheme to prosecute a bogus elephant-abuse lawsuit against the circus.

These are pachyderm-sized charges. But the evidence is compelling. In December, federal Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the activists’ 2000 elephant suit, ruling that the plaintiffs paid more than $190,000 to a former Ringling elephant “barn helper” in exchange for his completely unreliable testimony.

The judge wrote that the animal rights groups, including the anti-circus Fund for Animals (which is now part of HSUS), cleverly disguised their payola through a nonprofit “wildlife advocacy” charity founded and operated by their lawyers. (These lawyers now have to find their own defense attorneys to deal with the RICO lawsuit.)

The primary purpose of these payments, says Judge Sullivan, was “to keep [the witness] involved with the litigation.” Judges tend to frown on paying witnesses what amounts to a secret retainer.

Anyone who’s seen a PETA protest up close will find it utterly unremarkable that animal activists would knowingly fudge the truth. But it’s telling that these groups would do just about anything — including buying themselves a federal court witness — to get their way.

The Ringling case (and its swift-justice RICO fallout) is just one piece of a disturbing trend of animal rights groups replacing public persuasion with courtroom strong-arm tactics.

Since the vegan firebrand Wayne Pacelle took the reins at HSUS in 2004, for instance, that organization has beefed-up its legal department ten-fold, from three lawyers to 30.

Full story at the link

Thursday, March 11, 2010

American Legislators: Do Your Homework; You Might Learn Something

CattleNetwork 03/11/2010 11:12AM
U.S. Representatives Diane Watson, D-Calif., and Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., this week introduced the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (H.R. 4733) “To promote the well-being of farm animals by requiring Federal agencies to procure food products derived from certain animals only from sources that raised the animals free from cruelty and abuse, and for other purposes.” Not surprisingly, a Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) press release said: “The Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization, praised the proposal and encouraged Congress to act swiftly to pass the bill.”

Adding the words “cruelty” and “abuse” to this bill is an effective way for HSUS to get the shock value out of the legislation and make legislators erroneously believe cruelty and abuse is the norm on farms. It’s also a way to strong-arm the government into kowtowing to activists’ wishes for control over the American diet and the demise of animal agriculture one federal program at a time.

Farming industry advocates, however, dispute that this bill can guarantee welfare standards, and in fact, may hinder welfare on operations depending on type of operation, species, geography and other factors. In a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said: “The American Farm Bureau Federation strongly opposes H.R. 4733, which would limit the federal government from purchasing animal products that are not ‘humanely’ produced. The legislation would mandate arbitrary ‘humane’ standards for food animal production absent the professional judgment of veterinarians and livestock producers.”

Stallman went on to say that “…modern animal agriculture has a consistent commitment to the best possible animal care and millions of research dollars have been committed to assuring the latest science-tested welfare practices. Every major U.S. livestock and poultry group has either a professionally-developed, science-based quality assurance program incorporating proven welfare standards, or has created specific science-based animal welfare practices to which their members adhere.”
Full story at Cattle Network

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

HSUS and the courts

Recently, a press release for HSUS legislative awards hit the media. HSUS, a nonprofit, and their lobbying affiliate the Humane Society Legislative Fund, “honored” 131 Congressional leaders for their work and/or votes on HSUS supported federal animal legislation.

To date 34 Federal bills have been introduced by legislators on behalf of HSUS. The most recent, HR 4733 Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, introduced by Representatives Diane Watson (CA-33) and Elton Gallegly (CA-24), would require Federal agencies to procure food products from animals raised “cruelty free”.

Lawsuits filed by HSUS often attract less attention, although these maneuvers have great impact on animal use.

A four-year suit filed by HSUS against USDA came to an end last November when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the HSUS case challenging the government’s long-held decision not to include poultry in the humane slaughter act. The suit was originally filed in 2005 claiming that “other livestock" cited in the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 should be interpreted to include poultry. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled in favor of the USDA, saying Congressional intent to leave poultry out was clear. HSUS appealed and in November 2009 the appeals court panel ruled that HSUS did not have standing to sue in the first place.

In December, the nine year long HSUS battle alleging elephant cruelty against Ringling Brothers came to a close when Federal Court Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the suit. Discovering that the main witness against the circus had been paid nearly $200,000 by HSUS and other plaintiffs Judge Sullivan ruled, “The Court finds that Mr. Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible, and therefore affords no weight to his testimony.”

More recently, in January 2010, HSUS lost its suit against Petland charging that thousands of puppies sold by Petland were from substandard breeders. HSUS maintained it had investigated 32,000 purchases, yet in court could only present 31 claimants in a five year period. The United States District Court in Arizona dismissed 29 of the claims leaving only 2 claimants who purchased dogs from stores now closed. The Court also rejected the broad claims relating to the sale of pets from substandard breeders, referred to by HSUS as "puppy mills."

According to the HSUS website, “The Animal Protection Litigation section conducts precedent-setting legal campaigns on behalf of animals in state and federal courts around the country. With a staff of 13 lawyers located in Washington D.C., New York, San Francisco and Seattle, a network of over 1,000 pro bono attorneys and dozens of active cases, The HSUS has the largest Animal Protection Litigation program in the country.” The full litigation list of 85 cases filed by HSUS, the Fund For Animals, and their animal rights allies can be found here humanesociety.org/litigation/docket

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Obama administration will accept no more public input for federal fishery strategy

Monday, March 8, 2010

Culled out
By Robert Montgomery

The Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.

This announcement comes at the time when the situation supposedly still is "fluid" and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force still hasn't issued its final report on zoning uses of these waters.

That's a disappointment, but not really a surprise for fishing industry insiders who have negotiated for months with officials at the Council on Environmental Quality and bureaucrats on the task force. These angling advocates have come to suspect that public input into the process was a charade from the beginning.

"When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) completed their successful campaign to convince the Ontario government to end one of the best scientifically managed big game hunts in North America (spring bear), the results of their agenda had severe economic impacts on small family businesses and the tourism economy of communities across northern and central Ontario," said Phil Morlock, director of environmental affairs for Shimano.

"Now we see NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the administration planning the future of recreational fishing access in America based on a similar agenda of these same groups and other Big Green anti-use organizations, through an Executive Order by the President. The current U.S. direction with fishing is a direct parallel to what happened in Canada with hunting: The negative economic impacts on hard working American families and small businesses are being ignored.

"In spite of what we hear daily in the press about the President's concern for jobs and the economy and contrary to what he stated in the June order creating this process, we have seen no evidence from NOAA or the task force that recreational fishing and related jobs are receiving any priority."

Full story at ESPN link

Related links:
CSF submits comments to task force
Radical preservationist group could have hand in management plan

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Consumers less familiar with farming

By Mindy Ward and Jeff DeYoung, Missouri Farmer Today
Friday, February 26, 2010 11:27 AM CST

CHESTERFIELD -- With consumers now two generations removed from life on the farm, explaining how their food made it to the dinner table is more complicated.

Dave Drennan says that those in the animal-rights movement manipulate and twist agriculture’s story to suit their agenda. And, consumers are listening and watching.

As video footage of tail-docking and dehorning of dairy cattle stream across television and computer screens, all Dave Drennan could do was cringe.

“There are common-sense reasons dairy farmers do this, to protect themselves, other cows and the food supply,” he says.

Drennan, executive director of the Missouri Dairy Association, says that while many Missouri dairy farmers do not use the practice of tail-docking, many will cauterize horns.

“It protects the farmer from getting gored while working with the cows,” he says. “And, if they are all about animal well-being, this protects other cows from hurt from being gored. Isn’t that what they want? A safe environment for the cows.”

He says the issue surrounding tail-docking also focuses on safety. Tail-docking started as a way to protect farmers from illnesses spread by cow urine and feces during the milking process. It was also an attempt to keep the feces and urine from finding its way into the milk supply.

However, these two concepts are lost in the story, Drennan says. Many consumers do not visit a farm to learn about their food. Rather, they rely on the media.

“Families do not take that weekend trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm anymore,” he says. “They are not tied to agriculture. They do not see just where their food comes from and what we do on the farm.”
Full story at link ....

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ohioans have spoken about animal care

Kudos to Representative Zach Space (D, 18) for taking a stand to defend agriculture against the unwarranted measures of HSUS to force their opinions on others. We hope Representative Space will also write to the IRS and request that HSUS be investigated for these continuous and excessive lobbying practices.

Chillicothe Gazette March 1, 2010
Ohioans have spoken about animal care

Dear Mr. Pacelle,

I was disappointed and troubled to hear of the recent decision by the Humane Society of the United States to move forward with attempts to further their political agenda and force it on the people of Ohio. This news proves that clearly you and your organization have not been listening.

HSUS was obviously not listening when residents across the state of Ohio spoke in one voice -- overwhelmingly supporting Issue 2 and ensuring that Ohioans regulate our own standards for animal care. HSUS was obviously not listening when a majority of Ohio's federal and state delegation endorsed the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board -- overwhelmingly denouncing the HSUS' efforts to undermine it. And HSUS was obviously not listening when farmers across the state of Ohio weighed in on this disastrous policy -- overwhelmingly opposing it.

In addition to a majority of Ohioans, Issue 2 also had great support among Ohio's legislators, Governor Strickland and groups representing animal interests, including The American Humane Association and the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association. It is unconscionable to me that an outside group would come into our state and claim that they know better.

The OLCSB was created just four months ago with a strong mandate by the people of Ohio, and it would be wrong for it to be hijacked by overzealous special interests based out of Washington, D.C. Our board will ensure that livestock and animals in Ohio are treated humanely and that our agricultural producers -- a major sector of Ohio's economy -- are not unfairly penalized with unacceptable regulations.

The experts that will make up the OLCSB are the best sources for determining Ohio's minimum standards of care for our animals, and not a liberal group whose real intentions are less about animal care and more about control over what we in Ohio eat.

Your attempts to dictate our state policies regarding animal care are misguided, and I will not stand for them. Ohio's standards of animal care should be determined by those who know the issue best and have a vested interest in the outcome -- Ohioans.

I joined the farmers of my district to support the passage of Issue 2, which passed with almost 64 percent of the vote on Nov. 3. Ohioans statewide have spoken. It is clear exactly where they stand on this issue.

Mr. Pacelle, Ohio has spoken. Why haven't you been listening?