Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TX Dog Owners May Sue to Recover the Sentimental Value

I think it's going to have a significant impact on the private sector, particularly veterinarians, kennel owners, even individuals who take care of their neighbors' pets. I mean, for example, on veterinarians, things which would be routine care for a pet, now they have to practice much more defensive medicine," Texas attorney Boudloche said. "The value of a dog has changed in the eye of the law. So, if mistakes happen, the exposure for everybody is much greater."

By David Lee. Courthouse News Service
FORT WORTH (CN) - A Texas appeals court ruled that the owners of a mistakenly euthanized dog can sue to recover the sentimental value of their lost pet, reversing and remanding the ruling of a trial court. The closely reasoned opinion cites more than a century of Texas courts rulings on dogs.

The Court of Appeals for the 2nd District of Texas reinstated Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen's negligence lawsuit against Carla Strickland, a City of Fort Worth animal shelter employee.

According to court filings, their 8-year-old Labrador mix, Avery, escaped from the Medlens' back yard and was picked up by the city's animal control. Jeremy Medlen went to the shelter to bail out Avery, but did not have enough cash in hand to pay the fees. He was told he could return the next day and that a hold-for-owner tag would be placed on Avery's cage, to prevent him from being euthanized. But Avery was killed the next day before the Medlens could pick him up.

The Medlens sued for "sentimental or intrinsic" damages. Strickland objected, saying such damages are not recoverable for the death of a dog. The First Tarrant County Court at Law dismissed for failure to state a claim for damages recognized by law. The court said the Medlens could recover only the market value of the dog. Full story

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Supreme Court skeptical of California's slaughterhouse law

By MICHAEL DOYLE. McClatchy Newspapers

Supreme Court justices carved into California's ban on the commercial slaughter of lame livestock Wednesday, leaving the state law's future in doubt.

In a case that pits state vs. federal power, justices repeatedly suggested that California went too far with protecting animals already regulated by federal law and overseen by the U.S. Agriculture Department.

"California should butt out," Justice Antonin Scalia said at one point.

Although more bluntly phrased than most, Scalia's seeming skepticism toward California's livestock-protection law appeared to be widely shared during the hourlong oral argument. No justice seemed sympathetic to the state's case, and some at times sounded downright impatient.

"I don't see how you can argue that you're not trenching on the scope of the (federal) statute," Justice Sonia Sotomayor told California's deputy attorney general, Susan K. Smith.

Sounding dubious, Sotomayor later suggested that Smith was "not seriously arguing" a particular point, while Scalia said of one of Smith's arguments, "That can't be right."

The California law in question prohibits the slaughter of non-ambulatory pigs, sheep, goats or cattle. These are animals that can't walk, because of disease, injury or other causes. The state law further requires that the downed animals be euthanized.

Federal law bans the slaughter of downed cattle, and the challenge heard Wednesday was to the state provision that covers swine.

Full story at link.

Related articles

National Hog Farmer. Supreme Court to Hear Downer Hog Case

Hogs on the menu at Supreme Court

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Minn. foie gras producer challenges notion that process is cruel

by Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
October 10, 2011

Caledonia, Minn. — On a winding road in southeastern Minnesota, there's a 60-acre farm unlike any other in the Midwest.

Au Bon Canard, or "good duck" in French, is where Christian Gasset raises ducks to produce a culinary delicacy: foie gras, or fattened duck liver. The Au Bon Canard duck livers — along with breasts, wings and other parts — end up on plates of the most celebrated restaurants in the Upper Midwest.

Inside a barn on Gasset's farm on a recent morning, four long wooden pens each held about 16 adult male ducks, with room for the ducks to walk around. Gasset and his wife, Liz Gibson-Gasset, moved slowly to keep the birds calm.

"With foie gras, the really big thing is you can't have a good product if you're not treating your ducks well," she said. "If they're unhappy, if they're stressed out, if anything's wrong with their living conditions, you don't get a good product."

But as much as the Gassets try to keep their birds content, how they and other foie gras producers feed ducks makes the product controversial. Animal rights activists say the process used to fatten the ducks' livers amounts to animal torture.

The Gassets, who started their business in 2004, raise and slaughter about 2,100 males ducks a year, a fraction of what their competitors in New York and California produce. The birds on their farm are Mullard ducks, a cross between Pekins and Muscovies. They arrived from California as day-old chicks.

After living the first few weeks in a temperature-controlled room, they spend another eight weeks or so outdoors, eating a mixture of corn, bugs and grass before going into the barn for controlled feedings.

Twice a day for the last two weeks of a duck's life, Gasset tilts the bird's head back, inserts an eight-inch funnel into its throat and pours three-quarters of a pound of freshly cooked kettle corn down the duck's esophagus.

The corn goes into a small organ called the crop, which Gasset massages for a few seconds as he pulls the funnel out. It takes him seven seconds to feed each bird.

Gasset said controlling the amount of corn the duck ingests during the last two weeks of its life plumps its liver up to 10 times its normal size — making it foie gras. As the liver's color changes from black to yellow, its texture becomes creamy, like butter.

Gasset said the process is meant to mimic the way a bird puts on weight before fall migration, even though the ducks never migrate. To him, many of those who criticize the process simply don't want anyone to eat meat and see foie gras as an easy target.

"It's such a small production and you kind of target the rich people, because it's a really extremely expensive product at the end," he said.

Full story and video at link

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Marshall MO town hall meeting to discuss threats to agriculture

Town hall meeting planned for Oct. 26 in Marshall to discuss threats to agriculture
Thursday, October 6, 2011

Marshall Democrat-News
Two agriculture organizations and four Missouri legislators are hosting a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Martin Community Center in Marshall to discuss threats to agriculture.

Representatives from Missouri Farmers Care and Sante Fe Agri-Leaders are expected to help lead the discussion. According to a news release from MFC, state Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, and state representatives Joe Aull, D-Marshall; Caleb Jones, R-California; and Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, are also expected to attend.

The announcement specifically mentions the Humane Society of the United States as a threat. HSUS sponsored the controversial "puppy mill" ballot issue that narrowly passed in 2010 and was subsequently revised by the legislature.

HSUS reportedly backs a current initiative petition that would place on the ballot a measure limiting the Missouri legislature's ability to amend laws approved by referendum.

Supporters of the measure hope to have it considered during a 2012 election.

For more information, contact Dan Kleinsorge at or 573-821-2040
Online: Missouri Farmers Care News

Attorneys disqualified in Palm Springs Animal Shelter lawsuit

An animal rights group will likely appeal an Indio judge’s ruling to disqualify attorneys representing it in a suit against the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, a spokeswoman for the group said.

Riverside Superior Court Judge John G. Evans granted a motion Monday by shelter attorneys to disqualify Marla Tauscher, a private practice attorney in Palm Springs representing the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and fund attorney Michelle Lee.

Evans granted the motion because Tauscher at one point gave Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter legal advice, helped prepare manuals and waivers and attended at least one closed-door board meeting, according to court records.

Lee was disqualified because she had access to the information Tauscher had, Palm Springs city attorney Doug Holland said.

"Disqualification is mandatory in light of the substantial relationship,” court records on the ruling stated. “It is immaterial that Ms. Tauscher did not have an express contact for legal services, as an attorney-client relationship can be established when the attorney volunteers his or her legal services or otherwise provides legal advice to a prospective client even where there is no free agreement.”

Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter is a nonprofit group that raised money to build the new city shelter, scheduled to open Oct. 22.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a suit in April against the city alleging the shelter euthanizes animals too quickly and has lax record-keeping.

“Even though we have an abundance of evidence about the unlawful killing of animals at the Palm Springs Shelter, the city has maneuvered to try to kill the case by getting rid of the lawyers representing the interests of the animals,” said Lisa Franzetta of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“We are currently considering our next legal options for how best to win the justice that the homeless animals of Palm Springs so desperately need and deserve.”

A status hearing is scheduled for Dec. 2 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio. Full story

Lawsuit alleges Palm Springs Animal Shelter Euthanizes Too Soon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Restore the U.S. Horse Industry

6,808 letters and emails have now been sent from the Petition2Congress site requesting Congress to restore the U.S. horse industry.

As U.S. horse industry members, supporters, and concerned citizens we call on Congress to take proactive measures to stop the needless suffering of horses and people by 1) removing the annual riders from the Ag Appropriations bill that prevent USDA inspection on a voluntary fee basis (the processor pays for the inspection) which does not cost the taxpayer a dime, allows for the overnight creation of hundreds of private sector jobs, and allows the entire horse industry to begin to regain economic value, viability and vitality; and 2) oppose any and all measures that use the heavy hand of federal intervention such as S. 1176 and H.R. 2296 that do absolutely nothing to improve the welfare of horses, and only result in increased suffering.

You can Sign the petition at the link.

Equine Scientists Debunk Horsemeat Health Risk Claims


October 4, 2011

Dave Duquette, 541 751 7588
Sue Wallis, 307 685 8248 (ranch) 307 80 8515 (cell)

Health Risk of Horse Meat is Unsubstantiated

Four prominent equine scientists, Dr. Don Henneke, Phd, Dr. Sheryl King, Phd, PAS, Dr. William Day, Phd and Dr. Patricia Evans, EdD, have written a strongly worded letter to the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology in regards to a February 2010 paper, "Association of phenylbutzone usage in horses bought for slaughter: a public health risk" by Nicholas Dodman, Nicolas Blondeau, and Ann M. Marini, pointing out the unscientific, politically motivated erroneous conclusions of the paper. The letter points out the fallacy of "mixing sound research conducted on humans with unrelated sound research from horses." The clear message of the four equine scientists is that the journal paper's authors "attempt to formulate an unfounded and unsubstantiated conclusion that horsemeat derived from American horses contains residues of phenylbutazone that are harmful to humans. This conclusion is not supported by the research cited or any other research..."

The paper's authors as well as the so-called experts credited with contribution to the article are all linked to extremist animal rights organizations that have been attacking America's farmers and ranchers. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and their animal rights activist cronies continue to try to discredit the animal agriculture industry's commonsense, factual reasoning for the need for humane horse processing in the United States.

"We are heartened that scientists have stepped up to challenge this flagrant attack on the hard working, tax paying horse people of America," says Wyoming state representative, Sue Wallis, one of the leaders of a nationwide grassroots horse industry organization, United Horsemen. "The journal article is penned by scientists and uncredentialed lay people known primarily for their radical animal rights political views."

"Facts are stubborn things;" wrote founding father John Adams, "and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

"Thanks to dedicated scientists insisting on strict adherence to the scientific method," says Dave Duquette, working cow horse trainer and president of United Horsemen, "we have the facts, science, and evidence to disprove this blatant attempt to fool Congress and betray America's farmers and ranchers."

The equine scientists conclude their letter by stating that,

"As equine science Instructors, we strive to present factual information to our students in an unbiased manner. The topic of horse slaughter is controversial and emotional. No horse owner looks forward to making end of life decisions concerning their animals. Humane euthanasia, whether it is done at the veterinarian's facility, the owner's facility, or the slaughter facility, is not an easy decision to make. We believe that the decision should be left up to the individual horse owner. In the current economic climate, the availability of humane euthanasia must remain a viable option for the health of the horse industry. The publication of this obviously biased article by such a reputable source raises real concerns about the value of the peer review process. We trust that future acceptance of articles by Food and Chemical Toxicology concerning the horse will be properly reviewed prior to acceptance and publication."

The letter authors also issued a detailed advisory to Congress regarding the unsubstantiated claims in the journal article, and the evidence for the safety of horsemeat produced from U.S. horses.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NSSF Survey: 94 Percent of People Support the Right to Hunt

Sept. 22, 2011
Public Support for Hunting Remains Strong, NSSF Study Shows

94 Percent Agree with 'Right to Hunt'

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- As sportsmen and sportswomen prepare to celebrate the 40th annual National Hunting & Fishing Day this Saturday, a new study shows that the majority of Americans continue to support hunting.

The scientific telephone survey of American adults 18 and older was conducted in early September and commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.

Three-fourths of survey respondents (74 percent) said they approved of hunting, a level of support that has not varied by more than a few percentage points since 1995. "The numbers have been consistent over the past two decades," said Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, the research firm that conducted the study. "Support for hunting is solid."

The new study went a step further than previous research, however, revealing extraordinary support for the "right to hunt." No matter what their opinion about hunting, Americans stand firmly behind a person's right to hunt, with 94 percent agreeing it is "OK for other people to hunt if they do so legally and in accordance with hunting laws and regulations." Only four percent of respondents wanted to strip citizens of the right to hunt.

"It's gratifying to see that strong public support for our great tradition of hunting is unwavering," said Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO. "For many of us, it is extremely fulfilling to provide food for ourselves and our families through hunting, even if only on a few days a year. That's one of many reasons why NSSF and others work so diligently to protect hunting."

The survey also revealed that Americans have a taste for eating what sportsmen harvest. Sixty-seven percent of respondents indicated they have eaten some type of wild (non-farm) game meat or fish within the last 12 months. This finding corresponds to people's growing interest about their food sources. Hunters and their families have always known the benefits of eating healthful, hormone-free game meat, and now more people are enjoying cooking and eating game, with some even taking up hunting because it connects them directly with locally acquired, sustainable foods.

The survey also revealed the public was equally supportive of target shooting, with 93 percent agreeing that target shooting is acceptable.

Survey respondents closely matched the age, gender, race and region of the American population 18 and older. Of the hunters in the survey--about 10 percent--the average age was 41. "It remains a goal of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the many programs it funds to increase hunting participation among all ages, especially by attracting younger participants and former hunters," said Sanetti. "It is they who will carry on this great American tradition and continue to fund the protection of wildlife and habitat."

The billions of dollars generated through hunting license sales and excise taxes on firearms and ammunition, as well as fishing tackle, provide the foundation for wildlife conservation efforts in America. Excise taxes on firearms and ammunition sales alone have resulted in more than $6.8 billion benefiting conservation through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. One of the objectives of National Hunting & Fishing Day is to raise awareness of the many contributions sportsmen make in this area.


About NSSF
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 6,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to

Wisconsin agrees: Delist wolf

Editorial from the Wisconsin State Journal Sept. 28, 2011

Wisconsin is now home to some 800 gray wolves.

Wisconsin has more wolves than every state in the nation except Alaska and Minnesota.

These majestic animals have more than tripled in numbers here over the last decade, thriving far beyond state and federal recovery goals.

So why are they still on the federal endangered species list?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should remove the gray wolf from the list in and around Wisconsin so wildlife officials here can better protect farm livestock and pets — as well as the wolf's reputation.

Virtually every member of Wisconsin's congressional delegation — even U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison — agrees. The delegation this week sent a letter asking Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to delist the wolf.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed doing just that. Yet its process is incredibly slow and complicated by an effort reclassifying gray wolves in the eastern United States as a new species. Read more..

Monday, September 26, 2011

Spay Neuter HSUS Campaign Update

A message from Lobbyist, Frank Losey.


• Eight Members of Congress have requested the Inspector General of the Department of the Treasury to investigate "HSUS's apparent improper activities and its tax exempt status." By letter dated April 18, 2011, six of these eight Members of Congress also asked the Treasury's Inspector General to "investigate IRS's potential failure to conduct a proper investigation pursuant to Congressman Leutkemeyer's March 23, 2010 letter." The eight Members of Congress include Senator Lugar and Representative Visclosky from Indiana, Representative Young from Alaska, and Representatives Emerson, Hartzler, Long, Leutkemeyer and Graves from Missouri.

• The Treasury's Inspector General for Tax Administration, by letter dated August 24, 2011, informed Senator Lugar from Indiana that his Office "recently initiated an audit to determine whether the IRS's Exempt Organizations function is accurately accounting for referrals of alleged violations of Federal tax law, acknowledging receipt to submitters, and tracking and monitoring the time frames for working referrals."

• During 2010 more than 6,000 concerned, tax-paying citizens from all 50 States wrote to the IRS and requested the IRS to investigate the excessive, prohibited, non-reported and under-reported lobbying activities of the U.S., which are the subject of 17 Formal Submissions to the IRS that are substantiated by 1,628 pages of incriminating and self incriminating documents. These documents include:

1. Extracts from HSUS Tax Returns that literally "brag" about all of its lobbying activities while claiming on other sections of its Tax Returns that none of its paid staff or volunteers lobby;

2. Claims by the President and CEO of the HSUS that he and the HSUS are responsible for the passage of 1,000 laws - - some of the claims are recorded on CDs furnished to the IRS;

3. Federal Election Commission Documents that reference nearly 3,000 pages of lobbying related documents that were generated by three subsidiary organizations and PACs of the HSUS which confirm that Millions of Dollars have been contributed to Hundreds of Federal Election Campaigns, and these expenditures do not include the Millions of Dollars expended by the HSUS at the State Level where it claims to be responsible for the passage of more than 525 State Statutes and Ballot Initiatives; and

4. The failure to report any receipt of Membership Dues for the last five years, which could amount to more than $500 Million.

• The Treasury's Inspector General has received a Documented Complaint that one or more IRS Employees has been improperly "leaking" portions of the above referenced 17 Submissions to the IRS to the HSUS.

• The Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia has received a Documented Complaint that the HSUS and Members of its Senior Leadership are in violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 because they have never registered as a Lobbying Organization or as Lobbyists with the two Houses of Congress, notwithstanding 1,000s of direct "lobbying contacts" for the purpose of influencing legislation. In contrast, the President and CEO of the HSUS is a Registered Lobbyist in MO.

NOTE: If the HSUS and its Senior Leadership had registered with both Houses of Congress, the HSUS would be admitting that it has done excessive lobbying, which in turn, could result in the IRS rescinding its tax-exempt, public charity status, and the HSUS could become subject to the IRS assessing Tens of Millions of Dollars in back taxes, penalties and interest.

• The Parent Company of the Ringling Brothers Circus has filed a Lawsuit against the HSUS, and alleged the following violations: Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; Money Laundering; Bribery; Obstruction of Justice; Mail Fraud; Wire Fraud; Illegal Witness Payments; Virginia Conspiracy Act; Conspiracy to Harm a Business; Abuse of Process; Malicious Prosecution; and a Fundraiser Held in Furtherance of the Schemes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

GAO: 'Limited Progress' in Addressing Antibiotic Resistance

by Helena Bottemiller Sep 15, 2011
Federal agencies have made "limited progress" in addressing antibiotic use in food animals and lack the data needed to track progress, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The GAO found that the government is lacking the detailed data needed to measure efforts to reduce antibiotic resistance and fully examine the relationship between using antibiotics in animal agriculture and the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Without that analysis, it's difficult to measure whether or not policies to combat resistance are working.

The National Pork Producers Council pointed to the GAO report as confirmation of the group's long-held position that science does not back up the link between food animal antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in humans.

"Not only is there no scientific study linking antibiotic use in food animals to antibiotic resistance in humans, as the U.S. pork industry has continually pointed out, but there isn't even adequate data to conduct a study," National Pork Producers Council President Doug Wolf in a statement. "The GAO report on antibiotic resistance issued today confirms this." full story at Food Safety News

The GAO report details background, research challenges, and recommendations.

Sen. Blunt Recognized as Friend of Ag Economics

Agricultural economic organizations name Sen. Roy Blunt as 2011 awardee.

Compiled by Missouri Ruralist staff
Published: Sep 15, 2011

The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE) and National Association of Agricultural Economics Administrators (NAAEA) recently recognized Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) as the "2011 Friends of C-FARE and Agricultural Economics." This annual award is given to individuals who support the application of economics to policy issues involving agriculture, natural resources, food and nutrition topics.

C-FARE Chair Damona Doye of Oklahoma State University spoke at a Sept. 6 reception in Washington, D.C., held in the senators' honor. "Our profession is grateful to both senators for their continued appreciation of economic analysis to improve public policy," she said.

Mike Monson of the University of Missouri presented the honor to Sen. Blunt. "With his Missouri farm background, Sen. Blunt understands the key role that agriculture plays in driving the nation's economic recovery," Monson said. "[He] is a strong supporter of continued investments in agricultural research to provide producers the tools needed to stay competitive in the world market, ensure our food supply, improve the efficiency of our infrastructure and foster policies that provide benefits to the entire economy." full story

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New ag organization started to protect state's animal agriculture

By Robert Pore
Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 8:27 PM CDT

Animal agriculture in Nebraska is a more than $7 billion industry that supports thousands of jobs.

But a group of agricultural organizations believes the livestock industry is threatened by outside groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

These organizations have formed We Support Agriculture (WSA) to educate Nebraskans about modern agricultural practices and to defend against attacks and misinformation about modern technology used to raise livestock.

WSA was announced on Tuesday at Husker Harvest Days. Pete McClymont, vice president of government affairs for the Nebraska Cattlemen, is WSA president.

He said Nebraska's farmers and ranchers are "caring people who know how to care for their animals properly."

"They go to great lengths to protect their animals from disease, predators and harsh Nebraska climate while feeding their neighbors and the world."

But they now have a new predator to contend with, McClymont said, in the form of increased activity across the country by "extreme animal rights groups who have an agenda to make Americans eat less food originating from animals -- such as meat, eggs and dairy."

He said these groups want to institute "hostile regulations that will increase the price of food and make them much more difficult to produce."

According to WSA, "This negatively affects consumers by inflating the cost of food and limiting the availability of nutritious food choices for their families."

WSA said its goal is to "defend agriculture against this extreme agenda."
Full story
Visit We Support Agriculture website

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

California Foie Gras ban goes into effect

The Artisan Farmers Alliance and intends to fight the California law.

Chef Gary Danko sears an inch-thick slice of duck liver in a small pan in the San Francisco restaurant where he earned a Michelin star until the meat develops a golden-brown shell.

The delicacy known by its French name, foie gras, is garnished with figs and champagne grapes, a variation on a dish he’s served since opening Restaurant Gary Danko near Fisherman’s Wharf in 1999.

“I sell probably 40 orders a night or more,” Danko said in an interview while salting the meat. “When the protesters are here, double that.”

The protesters are animal-rights advocates who say force- feeding ducks and geese to fatten their livers is cruel. Danko and other California chefs will have to remove foie gras from their menus in July, when the state becomes the first to ban the dish, under a 2004 law.

At issue is the method of feeding the birds, with a tube inserted in the esophagus.

“These birds have done nothing to deserve this fate of being force-fed several times a day,” Paul Shapiro, a spokesman for the Washington-based Humane Society of the United States, said in a telephone interview. “It’s an inhumane practice that should be relegated to the history books.”

Connoisseurs say the process mimics behavior in the wild, where the birds gorge themselves before migrating. Foie gras purveyors say the force-feeding causes no pain, and that opponents are trying to impose the values of vegetarians on everyone else. Full story

Friday, September 2, 2011

HSUS’s Wayne Pacelle Endorses Human Exceptionalism

The "father" of the animal rights movement, Peter Singer, said "Christianity is our foe. If animal rights is to succeed, we must destroy the Judeo-Christian Religious tradition." Pacelle, it seems, is determined to use the Bible and Christianity as yet another platform for preaching the hypocritical animal rights agenda. Well done, as usual, commentary by Wesley J. Smith on the disingenuous evangelist Pacelle.

Thursday, September 1, 2011, 2:05 PM
Wesley J. Smith
Wayne Pacelle is the head of the Humane Society of the United States. He is very slick, sophisticated, and runs HSUS as if it is only about animal welfare. I don’t believe it for a second. HSUS works diligently to make meat raising more expensive and morally marginalized, without vocally pitching the animal rights dogma. It’s a tactic, not a true belief in the principle of animal welfare.

Toward that ultimate end, Pacelle has explicitly embraced human exceptionalism. From an article in Prism, an evangelical magazine, “A Call to Compassion From Our Brothers the Animals:”

Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president of the HSUS, explains why it encourages animal welfare instead of animal rights: “I think it’s a recognition that we are special and exceptional,” he says. “All these creatures are at our mercy…The rights language suggests that that there’s something inherent in them, and I think it’s more about us.”

Well, I can agree wholeheartedly with that. Human exceptionalism is why we have duties to animals. That is what I preach here every day and indeed is the core thesis of my book A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy. (Funny, I missed that rave review from Pacelle.) Indeed, that is the core animal welfare principle. We have a right to use animals instrumentally, so long as we balance the human benefit with the best and proper methods for attaining humane care.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t for a second believe Pacelle means what he said. He’s an old animal rights radical, a belief system predicated on the concept of “speciesism,” which explicitly holds that HE is unwarranted discrimination against animals. Moreover, while HSUS implicitly endorse humane meat, I perceive it as obfuscation. Read on .......

Federal Judge takes BLM to task over mustangs

The roundup of nearly 1,300 horses, which began July 20, is scheduled to end this week. The horses targeted in the Triple B roundup are among an estimated 2,200 that roam a series of horse management areas covering a total of 1.7 million acres southeast of Elko and northwest of Ely in eastern Nevada. BLM officials maintain the area can only sustain between 500 and 900 horses.

By SCOTT SONNER — Associated Press
RENO, Nev. — A federal judge in Nevada is taking the U.S. government to task for misconduct by a helicopter contractor during one of the biggest mustang roundups in the West, granting a rare emergency order sought by wild horse protection advocates who argue all of the gathers on public lands are inhumane and illegal.

U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben denied a request late Tuesday to halt the roundup at the Triple B complex in northeast Nevada near the Utah line. But he did issue a temporary restraining order banning any mistreatment of mustangs like the Wild Horse Freedom Federation caught on camera earlier this month.

Laura Leigh, the vice president of the Texas-based group that filed the lawsuit against Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, who oversees the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said it was a small but important victory in a larger effort to bring attention to what she says is the BLM's routine violation of federal laws protecting the horses.

"This is significant because the judge saw what we see every day," Leigh told The Associated Press.

"This is a recognition in the federal court system that there is something wrong with not only what is going on out there but something wrong with the justification process."

BLM officials denied the group's claims that the helicopter pilot on the video actually struck a horse with a helicopter skid on Aug. 11.

Full story

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

IFAW Marks $1 Million in Donations From Partner The Animal Rescue Site

International Fund for Animal Welfare is another animal rights organization with a two-star rating from Charity Navigator, one star lower than HSUS and PETA.

According to the press release issued August 30, IFAW marked a milestone: $1 million in grants received from to help animals in crisis around the world. IFAW has been beneficiary of initiatives on The Animal Rescue Site and's grants since 2008.

"The Animal Rescue Site makes it so easy for people to act upon their natural generosity and compassion. When so many individuals are willing to give just a little bit each, we can make a massive difference for animals," said IFAW President and CEO Fred O'Regan.

The Animal Rescue Site was added to the GreaterGood Network in 2002. The primary beneficiaries of its "Click Here To Give" button and The Animal Rescue Site store are International Fund for Animal Welfare, Foundation, Fund for Animals, Rescue Bank, and Northshore Animal League America.

IFAW campaigns to protect wildlife and against seal hunts and whaling. They also produce a variety of Animal Fact Sheets, including handouts on domestic dogs and cats. The IFAW website advises, Please spay or neuter your pet because 1 female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in just 7 years! Better yet! 1 female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 in just 6 years!

IFAW's press release can be viewed here

Helicopter Hunting For Feral Hogs Begins in TX Thursday

Field & Stream August 29, 2011. by Chad Love

Thursday is the traditional kick-off to many fall hunting seasons, from dove to grouse to...pork choppers? Yes, pork choppers. And according to this story, hunters from across the nation are lining up to be a part of Texas' first helicopter-based hog season.

From this story in the Forth Worth Star-Telegram:
"Pork choppers," Texas' newest weapon in the war on feral hogs, will take to the skies Thursday when it becomes legal for hunters to buy seats on hog-hunting helicopters and gun down as many pigs as they can put in their sights. With more than 2 million feral hogs rooting around the Lone Star State, there will be plenty of targets for aerial gunners willing to pay $475 for an hour of heli-hunting. Vertex Helicopters is already bringing home the bacon as a result of the measure passed by the Texas Legislature this year. The Houston-based firm requires shooters to take a $350 hunting safety course before they can book a hunt, said President Mike Morgan, a former Army helicopter pilot.
story at Field & Stream

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Cruelest Trick Ever Played On A Breed Of Dog

Every once in awhile a new article surfaces about the "Pit Bull" which for a century was viewed as America's dog. Great article, worth reading and sharing.

Let’s pretend…
…that you’re the owner of a large, national company that makes only children’s shoes. No adult shoes. Just kid’s. Unlike most other businesses, your customer profile is extremely narrow. Pretty much only kid’s Moms buy kid’s shoes. You’ve named your company after a cute seven year old boy and you want that little boy to have a dog. There’s nothing more wholesome than a boy and his dog, but which breed should it be? You know dog breeds have different dispositions. German Shepherds, for example are vicious, unreliable, uncontrollable and a movement has been formed to ban them altogether. You know this because the newspaper told you so. What you need is a dog universally known to be good with children. A dog that not even the most easily scared, overprotective mother in the country would fear might harm the boy he’s pictured next to on every box of shoes you produce and a dog she has no fear would harm her child should he encounter one. You need a dog that is loved by everyone and known as being the absolute safest with kids. The reputation of your company depends on it. What breed do you choose?
Read article

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HSUS: D-D-Dreadful Charity Practices

Three times a year, the venerable American Institute of Philanthropy (which runs analyzes publicly reported information from charities and issues a report card grading how well these organizations spend their money. Unlike other charity analysts, AIP digs past the face-value data to get a more accurate measure of how effective a charity is. And in its latest report, AIP gives the deceptively named Humane Society of the United States a “D” grade—yet again.

Last year, AIP gave HSUS a “D” grade—twice—due to the animal rights group’s lackluster performance (to put it mildly) in using donors’ contributions. Even PETA has a “C-plus” grade. (AIP must not dock points for hypocritically killing thousands of animals a year.)

AIP finds that HSUS spends up to 49 cents to raise every dollar—quite inefficient fundraising. Additionally, AIP finds that HSUS spends as little as 49 percent of its budget on programs. Full story at Consumer Freedom

HSUS Announces New SC State Director

HSUS issued a press release on August 15, 2011 for the hiring of another state director. "Kimberly Kelly takes the reins for animal welfare efforts on behalf of The Humane Society of the United States in South Carolina. She will be responsible for building activist coalitions and working with local supporters, advising law enforcement, assisting with emergency and disaster preparedness, and working with animal shelters."

"Kelly, based in Charleston, is a graduate of the Charleston School of Law, and the University of California, Berkeley. She led the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund while in law school, and worked with a domestic violence organization to help start their services for pets program which provides food and temporary shelter for the pets of women trying to escape domestic violence. She also has worked with The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation department."

The presss release notes that last year HSUS helped pass more than 100 animal protection laws in various states. South Carolinians can expect to see a steady stream of HSUS legislation both locally and at the state legislature.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wolf delisting headed to court again

(CN) - Environmental groups on Thursday asked the 9th Circuit to reinstate the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf on the Endangered Species List.

Last week, a Montana federal judge upheld the constitutionality of a Department of Defense budget rider, which directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the gray wolf, a species that roams the northern Rocky Mountains through Montana, Idaho, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Utah.

"Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains should be managed by science, not political meddling by Congress," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. "This appeal is aimed at restoring needed protections for wolves in these states. Although numbers have risen, the job of wolf recovery is far from complete."

Since the ruling, a number of states have set new hunting quotas for wolves, according to appeal filed by the center, Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene, Ore., and the Western Watersheds Project.

Fish and Wildlife issued a final rule to remove the species from the list in 2009, but a federal judge found that the rule violated the Endangered Species Act by protecting a listed species only across part of its range. The court vacated the rule and the wolves remained protected until the passage of an appropriations bill by Congress this past April. A rider to that bill, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama, directed Fish and Wildlife to reissue the 2009 rule.

"The wolf rider is a clear example of overreaching by Congress that resulted in the wrongful removal of protections for wolves," Cascadia Wildlands campaign director Josh Laughlin said in a statement. "The rider is not only a disaster for wolves but for any endangered species that a politician doesn't like. Congress has set a terrible precedent that we hope to overturn."

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula also decried the rider in his Aug. 3 ruling as a "tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law."

Nonetheless, Molloy determined that he was bound by precedent to uphold the congressional delisting, no matter how much he disagreed with it. Full story

Friday, August 5, 2011

PETA Loses Lawsuit Seeking Inclusion in Merck Shareholder Meeting

PETA Loses Lawsuit Seeking Inclusion in Merck Shareholder Meeting
U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson dismissed a lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals seeking a court order to force Merck & Co. Inc. to include a resolution from the animal rights group in materials for the pharmaceutical company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Following a motions hearing this morning, Jackson granted Merck summary judgment and dismissed the case in an order from the bench. Since the shareholder meeting in question already took place in May, Merck had argued that the court lacked authority to order Merck to hold a special meeting for the purpose of presenting PETA’s resolution, among other things.

The animal rights group holds 101 shares of Merck. The group accused Merck of wrongfully denying its request to include a resolution in proxy materials that called on Merck to disclose use of animal testing in in-house and contracted research. Full story

MO Farm Bureau Opposes HSUS Initiative Petition

Farm organization warns Missouri citizens that HSUS group's 'Your Vote Counts' initiative petition is dangerous.
Compiled by staff Published: Aug 2, 2011

Missouri Farm Bureau's board of directors recently voted to oppose an initiative petition being circulated to require a three-fourths vote of the Missouri legislature to change an initiative statute.

The "Your Vote Counts" initiative petition is bankrolled by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a national organization with no affiliation to local Humane Society chapters in the state.

"Missourians should be alarmed by organizations like HSUS who are hijacking Missouri's initiative petition process," said Blake Hurst, president of Missouri Farm Bureau. "They are using their vast financial resources to buy their way on the ballot with paid signature gatherers and then buy voter support by flooding the air waves with slick, misleading commercials. This is government by fundraising, legislation by thirty-second commercials.

"By requiring a three-fourths vote, the 'Your Vote Counts' proposal creates an unrealistic threshold for legislative action as a check and balance against the influence of multi-million dollar organizations like HSUS," Hurst said. "The Missouri Legislature can override a governor's veto with a two-thirds vote. They can even vote to amend the U.S. Constitution with a two-thirds vote. I sincerely doubt HSUS's ideas are more lofty or important than the Bill of Rights."

HSUS spent more than $2.5 million last year to gain voter approval of Proposition B, a state statute that further regulated dog breeders. During the 2011 legislative session, the governor and Missouri Legislature made changes to improve the initiative statute so it would put unlawful, instead of reputable, dog breeders out of business. Angered by this action, HSUS now proposes to use some of its $150 million annual budget to again buy its way on the ballot and tell Missourians how to conduct their business.

"Look no further than a state like California where budget problems are well documented and are largely a result of the ballot initiative process. California's legislature cannot itself amend ballot initiatives approved by the state's voters, not much different than what HSUS is proposing for Missouri," Hurst said. "Initiative petitions are a valuable part of the democratic process, but the process needs checks and balances. Absolute power is dangerous, and absolute power in the hands of groups with unlimited funding is a recipe for the worst kind of government of all."

Source: Missouri Farm Bureau

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Judge upholds Congress' change to wolf status

HELENA, Mont. The way Congress went about removing endangered species protections from the Northern Rockies gray wolf undermines the rule of law, but it did not violate the Constitution, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy reluctantly upheld a budget rider passed by Congress in April that stripped wolves of federal protections in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

The provision was inserted by Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana. The measure marked the first time since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 that Congress forcibly removed protections from a plant or animal.

Molloy, who twice blocked attempts to lift federal protections for the predators before Congress' action, did not hide his distaste for the provision.

"The way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 is a tearing away, an undermining and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law," Molloy wrote in his order.
Full story

Bear attacks

Yesterday Field & Stream reposted photos of a very lucky game warden who survived a grizzly attack. The post reads: With the number of bear attacks on the rise in the U.S., it's time to be reminded of how powerful a grizzly truly is. Take another look at these photos of a Montana DNR officer who was attacked by a male grizzly during a relocation. Photo gallery here

Two boys injured in bear attack at Stokes State Forest

And also in yesterday's news 4 teenagers taking a survival course were injured: Teen recounts Alaska bear attack

Gilbert woman dies after Pinetop bear attack

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Updated: Wyoming, Feds, reach deal on delisting wolves

By JEREMY PELZER Star-Tribune capital bureau

CHEYENNE - After years of fighting, the state of Wyoming and the federal government have reached an agreement to remove the state's roughly 340 wolves from the endangered species list and put them under state control.

Under the so-called dual-status plan, wolves in the northwest part of the state would be protected as trophy game, meaning they could only be hunted with a license.

The 60 or so wolves in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks -- which includes five to six breeding pairs -- would be delisted but wouldn't be under state control.

In a media release announcing the deal, Mead said wolves have long preyed on livestock and game animals such as moose and elk in the state.

"This is far from the end of this process, but I think we have come up with something that fits with Wyoming's values and economy," Mead said in the release. "Wolves are recovered in Wyoming; let's get them off the endangered species list."

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who last month inserted a no-litigation clause for any Wyoming wolf deal into a still-pending appropriations bill, praised Mead for reaching a deal over an issue that's been simmering since wolves were re-introduced by the federal government to the state in 1995.

"Today marks one more step in the considerable progress Wyoming has recently made in returning management of the fully recovered gray wolf to our own state experts," Lummis said in a media release. "For years, Wyoming has worked in good faith to produce and defend a wolf management plan. These labors have been difficult and, frankly, haven't produced results -- until today."

Republican Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi also lauded the deal, saying it was long overdue.

However, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the top-ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, wrote Salazar today to "express grave concern" about the agreement. The minimum population standards in the deal would mean 40 percent of Wyoming's current estimated wolf population will die, he wrote, and suggested that the agreement was based on politics, not just science. "Science, not politics, should ensure the conservation and management [of] the gray wolves in Wyoming, should they be delisted," Markey wrote in the letter.

Full story at link

Closing of U.S. horse slaughter plants still reverberates

By Malinda Larkin. JAVMA News August 15, 2011
After four years without domestic horse slaughter facilities in operation and a thorough study of the results, one thing is clear: the same number of horses from the United States, if not more, are being killed for their meat every year.

According to a recently released report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the plant closures have shifted the slaughter horse market to Canada and Mexico and driven down the sale prices of lower-grade horses. They've also worsened an already bad welfare situation by forcing horses to travel long distances to slaughter, often in unregulated trips.

Since fiscal year 2006, Congress has annually prohibited the use of federal funds to inspect horses destined for food, effectively halting domestic slaughter. With the cessation of domestic slaughter in 2007, Congress directed the GAO to examine horse welfare.

The organization's 68-page report, "Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter," came out June 22, more than a year after its scheduled release date (see JAVMA, Nov. 1, 2009, page 1026).

The GAO examined the effects, if any, of the plants' closures on the U.S. horse market; the impact of such market changes on horse welfare and on states, local governments, tribes, and animal welfare organizations; and the challenges, if any, to the Department of Agriculture's oversight of the transport and welfare of U.S. horses exported for slaughter.

From its analysis, the GAO recommended that Congress reconsider restrictions on the use of federal funds to inspect horses for slaughter or institute a permanent ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. Further, the agency recommended that the USDA issue a final rule to protect horses during more of the transportation chain to slaughter, and consider ways to better leverage resources for compliance activities.

Worsening horse welfare
According to the GAO, from 2006 through 2010, the number of horses exported from the U.S. to Canada for slaughter increased by 148 percent and the number exported to Mexico increased by 660 percent. As a result, nearly the same number of U.S. horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010—almost 138,000—as were slaughtered before domestic slaughter ceased in 2007. For reference, 104,899 horses were slaughtered in 2006, the last full year of domestic slaughtering operations, according to the report. Full story

Washington state court upholds kosher slaughter law

August 2, 2011 posted on JTA

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- A Washington state appellate court ruled against an animal protection group's bid to strike down as unconstitutional a law protecting religious slaughter.

The three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals on July 25 was unanimous in rejecting the suit brought by Pasado's Safe Haven.

The state law defines as humane stunning an animal before slaughter, which is the conventional means of slaughter, and severing the carotid artery, which it says is "in accordance with the ritual requirements of (a) religious faith." The latter method is used in Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter.

Pasado's said the law was unconstitutional in part because it favored religious ritual over other methods. The court rejected the claim, saying that invalidating part of an act while upholding another would usurp the state Legislature.

The Orthodox Union, an umbrella body for synagogues and a kosher certifier, praised the ruling.

"Kosher slaughter has been targeted by various fringe activists, but it is a necessary component of our community’s religious life," it said in a statement. "We appreciate that elected officials, such as those in the Washington legislature, recognize the humane nature of shechita, and ensure its protection and thereby the flourishing of Orthodox Jewish life. "

Related article
Where's the beef?
For Adam Karp, it’s usually about the animals. This time, religion has gotten involved. “The question is whether the state has created an unconstitutional exemption in favor of religion,” said Karp, who founded the Washington State Bar Association’s Animal Law Section.

HSUS, UEP: Strange bedfellows

July 8, 2011 By Steve Kopperud

When I first got wind of the July 7 United Egg Producers (UEP)-Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) agreement on “enriched cages,” egg carton labeling, euthanasia, molting, ammonia levels and so on, I was surprised, but not completely. UEP has been fighting a long, expensive and sometimes (often?) lonely battle to stop HSUS state-by-state, and it was expecting to do battle again in 2012 in Oregon.

I understand the industry’s frustrated desire to end the seemingly unending attack on how it does business, the crazy quilt of state laws that have evolved over the last few years governing how it raises birds, and I know the retailer pressure UEP has been under as company by company – albeit only a few of the truly unenlightened within the retailer community — announce plans to “go cage-free” at some undefined time in the future, honestly believing they’re doing the consumer some kind of favor.

What truly struck me dumb – and this is not generally an easy thing to do – was that part of the announcement where UEP and HSUS announced they would jointly seek federal legislation to enshrine their agreement. At this point my only reaction was: UEP has gone a step too far.

There are currently no federal laws governing how a U.S. farmer husbands animals for food. There are unending laws and regulations on how to make feed, how to practice animal health, how food safety is maintained, how animals are killed, but no federal regulation on husbandry practices per se. Why? Because there’s no reason to regulate how farmers farm or how ranchers ranch. There is no problem that must be solved by federal intervention. Animal ag has battled for 30 years to keep it this way. For 30 years, HSUS has tried to put Uncle Sam in the middle of every farm and ranch in America. For 30 years, Congress has sided with farmers and ranchers.

It’s clear had UEP been able to craft this “partnership” its way, it would have been an industry voluntary program of transition from conventional cages to enriched environment cages. But my guess is UEP couldn’t keep HSUS at the table if it only agreed to a voluntary transition. Full story

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Animal rights activist charged with trespassing at UF

By Nathan Crabbe, Staff writer, The Gainsville Sun

Published: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.

An animal rights activist has been charged with trespassing in a University of Florida building where she allegedly posted fliers offering a reward for information about students who experiment on animals.

Lisa Ann Grossman, 50, of Jacksonville, had been issued a trespass warning for a protest in December inside a fundraiser at UF’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The warning barred Grossman, a member of the animal rights group Negotiation is Over, from the UF campus for three years.

She is accused of violating that warning July 9 by entering the UF Cancer/Genetics Research Complex to post about 100 fliers. The fliers offer $100 in cash for personal information such as the name, picture, address or phone number of any student learning to experiment with animals.

The State Attorney’s Office last week filed a trespassing charge against Grossman. The second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by as many as 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Grossman couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

UF police allege that someone let Grossman into the locked cancer and genetics building to post the fliers. A Health Science Center official subsequently warned employees against admitting strangers to locked facilities and encouraged them to contact police to report suspicious persons.

Negotiation is Over previously has put the addresses and phone numbers of UF faculty researchers on its website over claims they conducted animal research. The website describes a campaign involving students as a way to show them that animal research can result in “car bombs, 24/7 security cameras, embarrassing home demonstrations, threats, injuries, and fear.”

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lummis clause preventing wolf lawsuits survives challenge

By JEREMY PELZER Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette

Thursday, July 28, 2011. CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A proposed ban on lawsuits against an impending Wyoming wolf management deal survived a legislative challenge in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

House members voted 250-174 to keep a rider in a 2012 Interior appropriations bill that would prevent any litigation against a potentially imminent agreement between Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would put the state’s roughly 340 wolves under state control.

Earlier this month, Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said they hoped to reach an agreement by the end of July that would remove Wyoming wolves from the federal endangered-species list and allow unregulated killing of the animals in all but the northwestern part of the state.

Mead and other state officials have repeatedly said that a congressional “no-litigation” clause is vital to protect any agreement reached from lawsuits by environmental groups and others.

The rider, inserted by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., would also put Wyoming wolves directly under state control as soon as a deal is reached.

Lummis’ budget rider was unsuccessfully challenged by an amendment from U.S. Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash., as 24 Democrats joined 226 Republicans in voting to keep the language in the bill.

Congressional observers have said that they expect Lummis’ wolf rider to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. However, they’re uncertain how the proposal will fare in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Salazar also spoke out against Lummis’ rider earlier this month.

In April, Montana’s two U.S. senators successfully passed a budget rider delisting wolves in five other Western states, along with a no-litigation clause.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wolves back in court

Outdoors blog
Idaho-Montana wolf issues head back to court on Tuesday

July 25. PREDATORS — The battle over the status of gray wolves in Idaho and Montana returns to court Tuesday, where environmental groups will argue Congress overstepped its authority when it stripped the animals of federal protection last May, according to a report by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

Two legal scholars who specialize in environmental and constitutional law say the greens face long odds in their effort to reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for wolves.

Read on for the rest of Barker's story.

The groups, which include the Moscow-based Friends of the Clearwater, the WildEarth Guardians, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Center for Biological Diversity, claim Congress violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine when it attached a rider to a federal appropriations bill that delisted wolves. The rider ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to re-publish a wolf delisting rule that had been overturned in 2010 by Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula, Mont. The rider also said the rule would not be subject to judicial review.

The groups have argued in court briefs that because the wolf case was being appealed and a decision was pending, the rider unconstitutionally interfered with the judicial branch. Specifically they say the rider “directs an outcome in pending litigation without changing underlying law or providing the courts with new law or standards to apply.”

The rider authored by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, makes no reference to the underlying law, the Endangered Species Act. For example, Molloy ruled the delisting rule was illegal because it removed protection for wolves in the Northern Rockies in only a portion of their range, Idaho and Montana, but not in Wyoming. The rider does not explicitly change the ESA to make that legal in either a narrow or broad sense.

The federal government responded in court documents that the action by Congress implicitly amends the ESA by overriding all existing laws that govern wolves and it does not infringe on the authority of the court.

Michael Blumm, a professor at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., said administrative rules, such as the ones that list and delist species under the ESA, can be challenged under the Administrative Procedures Act or the ESA. Since both were authored by Congress, it has jurisdiction over them and because of that it can order a rule exempt from judicial review. full story

Related articles:
RMEF Files Motion to Intervene in Latest Wolf Suit

Gazette opinion: Wolf rider implements needed state plans

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Endangered Species Service? Obama Administration Deal Forces Questionable ESA Listings

An important message from U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, Friday, July 22, 2011 3:44:00 PM

By Bill Horn, Director of Federal Affairs
While debt ceiling talks and the stalled economy dominant Washington, D.C., the pot continues to boil regarding hunting and fishing issues. The Obama Administration just cut a deal with the anti-hunting activists at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) on accelerated Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings. Per the legal agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is required to consider adding 757 species, subspecies, or distinct population segments to the list of endangered or threatened species. Decisions on all 757 must be rendered by October, 2016. The list includes species that are presently fished, hunted or trapped, including golden trout, cottontail rabbits, sage grouse, fisher, and wolverine.

Obligating FWS to engage in an unprecedented level of ESA listings will require millions of dollars and eat up untold hours of agency personnel time. Other key agency programs will suffer, including operation of the National Wildlife Refuge System (and hunting, fishing, and trapping which occurs on the majority of the 553 Refuge units), migratory bird management, and fisheries restoration. USSA has always been a strong supporter of FWS and these vital conservation programs. As a former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (overseeing FWS), I am deeply worried that the Obama-CBD deal converts FWS into the “Endangered Species Service.”

The timing on this deal looks like an effort to thwart Congressional efforts to rein in the ESA program. The House of Representatives is about to pass the Interior Department funding bill (including FWS) which severely restricts new ESA listings. The House wants the Service to use its finite money and personnel resources to focus on recovering already listed species rather than listing 757 more species (many of which are “endangered” only in the minds of anti-hunting activists). What CBD, and its Administration pals, cannot get via Congress, they want to get via this court settlement.

Interior, and FWS, are also about to get a new Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. President Obama recently nominated Rebecca Wodder to the post. She had her first (of two) Senate confirmation hearings this week. Wodder is a long time D.C. environmental activist who began her career in the late 1970’s as a staffer for Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) often considered the “father” of Earth Day. She later spent 15 years with The Wilderness Society (with whom USSA has long been fighting over wildlife management and hunting access issues) before becoming Executive Director of American Rivers in 1995. Wodder has not taken anti-hunting positions but has also not been a vocal supporter of the hunting community. We expect her to take office in September.

Stay tuned and be prepared for what will no doubt be a large and contentious issue facing all sportsmen, sportswomen, and other conservationists.

Oregon Congressman David Wu resigns

Oregon Congressman David Wu (D-1) resigned today amid new emerging scandal and calls for him to step down from office. Long time animal rights supporter, Wu had received 100 percent ratings from the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI); Defenders of Wildlife; and Big Cat Rescue. From 2009-2010 Wu missed a perfect score of 100 from HSUS/Humane Society Legislative Fund for failing to endorse the ban on chimps in research. Wu received the HSLF Human Advocate Award in 2006.

NCBA statement on HSUS-Egg agreement

A truly excellent statement on an issue that should be a major concern for all animal industries as well as consumers.

CattleNetwork. Washington July 13, 2011 – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall issued the following statement regarding a July 7, 2011, agreement between the United Egg Producers (UEP) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to work together toward the enactment of federally mandated egg production standards.

“Cattlemen are rightfully concerned with the recent UEP-HSUS agreement to seek unprecedented federal legislation to mandate on-farm production standards. Cattlemen take very seriously the responsibility to care for their animals. Cattlemen support and actively participate in multiple voluntary, industry led initiatives aimed at ensuring the production of healthy cattle and, ultimately, the safest, highest quality and most nutritious beef. The U.S. beef industry is recognized as a worldwide leader for its proactive and responsible health and wellbeing programs.

“More than two decades ago, long before agenda-driven, well-funded animal rights extremists started spreading fiction as fact, cattlemen adopted voluntary production practice guidelines. Unfortunately, these groups have repeatedly ignored the beef industry’s many cattle care programs, including Beef Quality Assurance program and the Cattle Industry’s Guidelines for the Care and Handling of Cattle. These programs set specific guidelines and provide hands-on training based on decades of practical experience, research and the most up-to-date science and education. They are updated regularly to ensure the use of the newest scientifically sound information and provide flexibility to meet the diversity of the industry.

“The cattle industry’s successful programs were not the result of a government mandate. They were developed by industry for industry to ensure cattlemen constantly improve handling and management techniques. And we will continue working to ensure our standards – not just animal care and handling, but food safety and environmental stewardship as well – are based on the latest knowledge. Unlike the UEP-HSUS agreement, our cattle care programs should never be weakened by being misused or construed as the basis of a regulatory or government mandated program.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Michigan Rep. Dale Kildee to retire

Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) will not seek reelection, the congressman announced earlier this month. Kildee has served 18 terms in office. HSUS has honored Kildee with multiple awards from 2006-2010 for his consistent perfect scores of 100 on the organization's Humane Scorecard.

Upon receiving the HSUS Humane Advocate award in 2008, Kildee issued the following press release:

"I am grateful to receive this award, but the real thanks goes to the Humane Society for more than fifty years of dedicated service," Congressman Kildee said. "I fully endorse the mission and achievements of the Humane Society and the protection of animals from abuse, cruelty and neglect will remain among my top priorities as I cast my vote."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Has the HSUS hijacked the APHIS Office of Enforcement?

Frank Losey sends us the following report concerning a potential Conflict of Interest at APHIS as a result of hiring ex-HSUS employee, Ms. Sarah Conant, to fill a newly created enforcement position.

In May of 2010 the Inspector General of the USDA released a scathing report that criticized APHIS for placing too much emphasis on education and not enough on enforcement. One of its recommendations included creating an Office within APHIS that would specifically focus on enforcement. And the person who was hired to fill the new position was an attorney who had specialized in Animal Law Issues. Her name is Ms. Sarah L. Conant, and she has been issuing a number of “enforcement” letters to dog breeders, and to at least one rabbit breeder with assessed fines up to $50,000 or more. A sampling of some of Ms. Conant’s “legal qualifications” that may have been considered by the USDA when she was selected to fill the newly created APHIS position, which may give all responsible breeders a reason to say “OMG,” is set out below:

• Ms. Conant was employed by the HSUS as a Litigation Attorney immediately before she was hired by the USDA.

• Ms. Conant first became associated with the HSUS when she was designated as an HSUS Litigation Fellow.

• In 2007 Ms. Conant was featured and quoted in a Virginia Law Publication entitled “Humane Society Lawyers Fight Culture of Cruelty, Government Bureaucracy.” One of her quotes included the statement that “Humane Society lawyers are working with legislatures and in the courts to change laws that affect the lives of farm animals,” and that “they are forced to go state by state in this effort because there are very few federal laws regarding farm animals.”

• Ms. Conant was employed by the HSUS in the same HSUS Litigation Office which was so actively involved in the Litigation last year that challenged placing the Proposition B Ballot Initiative on the November 2011 Ballot in Missouri.

• Ms. Conant’s “Name” has appeared as Counsel of Record for the HSUS on Lawsuits and Complaints filed against Federal Agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the U. S. Department of Agriculture, which now is her current employer. (Here it is significant to note that on at least one Lawsuit document that may be found on the HSUS Website, the name of “Sarah L. Conant” was no longer listed as one of the Counsel of Record, even though the originally filed document filed listed her name. Surely the HSUS would not engage in a “COVER-UP!” Or would it?!

• Ms. Conant worked in the same HSUS Litigation Office that sued the USDA under the Freedom of Information Act last October. This Lawsuit seeks personal, confidential and business sensitive information on every USDA Licensed Breeder in Missouri.

• Ms. Conant is listed as the Vice Chair of the Animal Law Section of the DC Bar, and is listed as representing the HSUS with no reference to the position that she currently holds with USDA.

While some may suggest that Ms. Conant has appropriate qualifications to act as the Chief of the Enforcement Section of APHIS, I personally and professionally believe that an egregious “Conflict of Interest” exists. In this regard, Rule 1.11 that is published by the American Bar Association specifically addresses “Conflicts of Interests For Former and Current Government Officers and Employees.” The relevant language states: “a lawyer currently serving as a public officer or employee shall not participate in a matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially while in private practice or nongovernment employment, unless the appropriate government agency gives its informed consent, confirmed in writing.” This is why a FOIA Request was submitted for a copy of the USDA “Informed Consent Document,” or a comparable “Conflict of Interest Document.” In the Practice of Law, some would consider a Breach of the “Conflict of Interest” Standard to represent a serious issue that involves “Legal Ethics.”

Three Little “Dashes” of Potentially “Good News”:

• First Dash: On Monday, July 11, 2011, I received confirmation from the IRS that it had assigned a Case File Number (2011-010153) for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Perhaps, just perhaps, someday the ASPCA will look back in the next year or so and wish that it had not thrown its “lot” in with the HSUS; that it had not contributed nearly $600,000 to the Proposition B Campaign in Missouri; that it had not been a Charter Supporter of the current and on-going “Your Vote Counts” Ballot Initiative Campaign in Missouri; and that it had not “hired away” from the HSUS Ms. Nancy Perry to fill its newly created position of Senior Vice President for Government Relations for the express purpose of overseeing the lobbying activities of the ASPCA in all 50 States, as well as at the Federal Level.

• Second Dash: On Tuesday, July 12, 2011, I received confirmation that the Inspector General of the USDA (USDA IG) had received a Fraud, Waste and Abuse Complaint that included a Freedom of Information Request for a “Conflict of Interest” Statement concerning Ms. Sarah L. Conant. While there is no guarantee that the USDA IG will find wrongdoing on the part of Ms. Conant, the potential exists that the revelation about the specific duties that she performed on behalf of her prior employer could prove to be a major source of embarrassment for the USDA, and could “taint” the integrity of every single adverse action and all assessed fines against Breeders that occurred on “her watch.” In this regard, Government Employees are expected not only to avoid “Conflicts of Interest,” but are expected to avoid any appearance of a “Conflict of Interest.” This scenario raises Issues of “Legal Ethics” - - both for the USDA and Ms. Conant who is an attorney.

• Third Dash: On Wednesday, July 13, 2011, I received confirmation that the APHIS FOIA Office had received a FOIA Request for “information” concerning Ms. Conant, and that the APHIS FOIA Office has assigned Case File Number 11-645 to this FOIA Request with a suspense date of August 10, 2011 for its response to the FOIA Request. Since it has been the HSUS that was submitting all of those FOIA requests for information about Missouri Breeders, it sure will be interesting to see if the HSUS objects to the release of information concerning Ms. Conant’s duties while she worked for the HSUS. My oh my, won’t it be interesting to see how APHIS responds to a FOIA Request that might prove to be more than a “bit embarrassing.”

When a breeder does not comply with the “Rules,” there are consequences. When a Government Employee does not comply with the “Rules,”…………………….. Well, we’ll just have to wait and see!

Visit the SAOVA website for information on the Spay Neuter HSUS Campaign.

Judge denies motion to halt NV wild-horse roundup

By MARTIN GRIFFITH Associated Press
Posted: 07/15/2011 04:52:41 PM PDT
Updated: 07/15/2011 06:50:01 PM PDT

RENO, Nev.—A federal judge Friday refused to grant an emergency injunction to halt a government roundup of about 1,700 wild horses from the range in Nevada.

U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben's ruling paves the way for the federal Bureau of Land Management to begin removing the mustangs Saturday from public lands in the sprawling Triple B Complex near the Utah line.

The judge disagreed with the Colorado-based horse advocacy group Cloud Foundation, which contends the roundup would violate the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act because the BLM failed to prove the herds there are overpopulated and causing ecological harm to public rangeland.

The herds have grown by nearly 1,600 horses since the last roundup in the complex in July 2006, McKibben said, and the range and herd itself will suffer if the population continues to grow at a 20 to 25 percent annual rate without BLM intervention.

"Plaintiffs have failed to show that a gather of this magnitude is not warranted in order to protect the rangeland habitat and maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance," the judge wrote. "The historical evidence before this court strongly supports the conclusion that the gather will benefit the horses rather than harm them, as fewer horses competing for limited resources will mean a healthier herd."

McKibben noted the high-desert complex has scarce water sources and the BLM has hauled several truckloads of water to it since June for the mustangs.
full story

Friday, July 15, 2011

Federal judge to rule on Nevada wild horse roundup

By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press

Posted on SF Gate. Thursday, July 14, 2011 (07-14) 15:47 PDT Reno, Nev. (AP) --

A federal judge said he intends to decide Friday whether to grant an emergency injunction blocking a government roundup of 1,700 wild horses in eastern Nevada, a move that also could affect other roundups on public rangeland across the West.

"I'm very concerned about the wild horses," U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben said Thursday as he questioned lawyers for both sides about their interpretations of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Opponents of the roundup say it violates the act because the Bureau of Land Management has failed to prove the herds are overpopulated and causing ecological harm to public rangeland.

Such a finding is necessary before any of the horses can be removed from federally designated "horse management areas," they say.

"This statute was put in place for a reason — to protect these horses from man, and that includes BLM," said Rachel Fazio, a lawyer for the Colorado-based Cloud Foundation suing to block the roundup BLM intends to start Saturday.

"These horses are to be left alone and not interfered with unless there is a threat to the thriving, natural, ecological balance and that does not exist," she said.

"There may be some water issues in some isolated areas, but these horses are in great condition. There is tons of forage out there. There is no urgency right now to remove these horses from the range."

The 1,700 horses targeted for roundup are among about 2,200 that roam a series of horse management areas covering a total of 1.7 million acres southeast of Elko and northwest of Ely in northeast Nevada.

BLM maintains that area can support only between 500 and 900 horses. Agency officials say they already are trucking in water due to typical water shortages in some areas and that while forage may be adequate now, there will be less come winter.

"The plaintiff suggests we wait until the entire 1.7 million acres is severely damaged before we can act," said Erik Petersen, a Justice Department lawyer representing the BLM during Thursday's one-hour hearing.

Petersen said it is important for the agency to stick to its schedule of roundups because there are a limited number of contractors who can provide the helicopters needed for the largest gathers.

Postponing the Nevada roundup "could delay other gathers throughout the western United States," he said, adding that the next big roundup is planned in Wyoming in September.

The lawsuit accuses BLM of managing the land primarily for livestock and ignoring the act's directive to manage the land "devoted to mustangs and burros principally for their welfare."

McKibben asked Fazio on Thursday, "What does `principally' mean?"

"Mostly," she answered. "There are multiple uses of the land but make sure the horses have the most."

"It's not exclusive, but in the few areas where the BLM has designated ranges to sustain wild horse herds, they should be given priority. Currently in these (horse management areas), livestock are given priority," Fazio said.

BLM disagrees.

"The plaintiff wants to couch this as cattle versus wild horses, but there are a lot of other facts at play," Petersen said.

"The act does not entitle wild horses to better treatment than other" animals on the land, including sage grouse, he said.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

USPOULTRY members concerned about deal

July 13, 2011 By Julie Harker

Brownfield Ag News. So far, there is little support from U.S. ag groups for a one-size-fits-all federal cage requirement for egg production. The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association (USPOULTRY) – the “all feather” trade organization – says many of its members have concerns “about inviting additional federal legislation” that the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States are pursuing. Last week, the UEP and the HSUS announced an agreement to push for legislation that would require enriched cages with more space for U.S. poultry production over the next 15 to 18 years.

A statement from USPOULTRY says while the industry has learned that enriched cages “offer many of the same advantages as conventional cage systems while providing birds with an opportunity to engage in additional natural behaviors” – the farming and production of poultry and egg products “is already highly regulated.”

Meanwhile, Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs of The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said in a statement this week that “cattlemen are rightfully concerned” with the UEP/HSUS agreement to “seek unprecedented federal legislation to mandate on-farm production standards.” Woodall says cattlemen voluntarily developed and follow quality assurance production guidelines that are updated on a regular basis. The National Pork Producers Council made a similar statement last week.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Landmark deal to remake how eggs produced

By Philip Brasher

July 8, 2011. A stunning, landmark deal between the largest animal rights group and the egg industry would change the way hens are raised in this country. It shouldn't be surprising that it's making others in the livestock industry nervous.

The agreement, announced today, marks a victory for both the industry and the Humane Society of the United States, which has been seeking to use a series of ballot initiatives, most successfully in California, to force some major changes in way that livestock are raised in the United States.

The egg industry has known for some time that the so-called battery cages that are now the standard industry practice would have to be replaced with something more acceptable to the public. But producers didn't want to go cage-free, as HSUS had been pushing, in part because cage-free operations require more and better trained workers. Cage-free hens also need more feed, further increasing production costs. The industry preferred instead to switch to a larger style of cages, known as "enriched colony" housing, that give the birds more room to move around and also include perches and nesting areas. (See photo) The deal announced today between HSUS and the United Egg Producers allows the industry to do just that and gives farms a decade and a half to phase in the new housing.

There's a big catch, however. The two groups agreed to jointly ask Congress for a federal law that set standards and a timeline for the changes, and that legislation will have to pass for the deal to go through. If the bill doesn't pass, "then the agreement would be off and we'd be likely to see more ballot measures, litigation, etc. Both sides want to work together to enact," HSUS' Paul Shapiro told me.

Most hens now have about 67 square inches of space in conventional cages. Under the HSUS-UEP deal that would increase up to 144 square inches.

As HSUS notes, such a law would mark the first time Congress has ever set standards for how any species of animals is raised on farms. No small achievement for HSUS.

The pork industry, which has tangled with HSUS for years over the way sows are housed, doesn't like the idea of federal standards for animal welfare. "It would inject the federal government into the marketplace with no measurable benefit to public or animal health and welfare," the National Pork Producers Council said. The group said it is "gravely concerned that such a one-size-fits-all approach will take away producers' freedom to operate in a way that's best for their animals."

Get some more details of the agreement here, in, of all things I thought I'd never see, a joint statement from HSUS and a major livestock producer group.

High court to review downer hog ban

Updated: Thursday, June 30, 2011 10:02 AM

Packer group says hogs normally lie down, law interferes with inspection


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a lawsuit over California's ban on the slaughter of downer hogs.

The National Meat Association, a packer trade group, contends that the prohibition is preempted by federal laws that govern the slaughter of livestock.

"This is about clear standards," said Jeremy Russell, spokesman for the group.

Unlike cattle, hogs normally lie down, so it's necessary for a veterinarian to determine if an animal is actually non-ambulatory, he said, adding that the California law hinders that process.

"It directly interferes with the antemortem (pre-slaughter) inspection of swine," said Steve Wells, an attorney for the group.

The nation's highest court will probably hear oral arguments and make a decision in the case in the spring of 2012, he said.

Attorneys representing the state of California would not comment on the case.

The Humane Society of the U.S., an animal rights group that voluntarily intervened in the case as a defendant, sees the court's decision as unfortunate, said Peter Brandt, its attorney.

"The meat industry is devoting a huge amount of resources to be able to slaughter animals that are too sick or injured to even walk," he said. "This is about the industry trying to cram animals that can't walk through the food system."

Brandt said he hopes the Supreme Court will recognize that the state has a legitimate interest in the prevention of animal cruelty.

If the court rules in favor of the National Meat Association, that would make it harder to prosecute people across the U.S. for such abuses, he said.

California initially passed its law against the slaughter of all downer livestock in 2008 after the Humane Society of the U.S. released a video that depicted the abuse of non-ambulatory cows at a slaughterhouse in the state.

The National Meat Association filed a legal complaint challenging the law as it applied to swine and won an injunction that prevented it from going into effect.

A U.S. district judge in San Francisco found that the prohibition was preempted by federal law, which prevents states from imposing meat inspection standards that are more stringent than federal standards.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision last year, describing the judge's interpretation as "hogwash."

According to the appellate ruling, states are allowed to ban the slaughter of certain animals -- such as horses -- even if federal meat inspection standards exist for such animals.

A non-ambulatory pig is simply another type of animal that the state government can exclude from slaughter, the ruling said.

The National Meat Association disputed these findings in its petition to the Supreme Court.

California's requirement that downer hogs be immediately euthanized prevents federal inspectors and veterinarians from conducting inspections that are mandated by federal law, the group said.

At the Supreme Court's request, the federal government submitted a brief that generally supported the National Meat Association's views. California's ban places requirements on the operation of slaughterhouses and is thereby preempted by federal law, according to the brief.

Friday, July 8, 2011

United Egg Producers- HSUS agreement

From Keith Good at, Inc.

William Neuman reported in today’s New York Times that, “Two groups that are usually squawking at each other — egg farmers and animal welfare advocates — announced an unusual agreement on Thursday to work together to seek a federal law that would require larger cages and other improved conditions for the nation’s 280 million laying hens.

“The deal comes after the egg industry has been put increasingly on the defensive. Animal welfare groups have clandestinely recorded videos showing poor conditions on farms, and various states have sought to set more humane standards for hens. Egg producers have also been struggling to improve their image after tainted eggs from several farms in Iowa sickened thousands of people in a nationwide salmonella outbreak last year.

“The agreement was announced by the nation’s main egg industry group, the United Egg Producers, which represents farmers who own about 80 percent of the nation’s laying hens, and the Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization.”

The Times article added that, “The groups said they would ask Congress to pass a law enacting the new standards, which they said would be the first federal law addressing the treatment of farm animals and would pre-empt efforts in several states to set their own standards.

“The proposed federal standards would include cages that give hens up to 144 square inches of space each, compared with the 67 square inches that most hens have today. They would also include so-called habitat enrichments, like perches, scratching areas and nesting areas, that allow the birds to express natural behavior.”

Mr. Neuman indicated that, “In a statement Thursday, the National Pork Producers Council said that a federal law regulating living conditions for hens ‘would set a dangerous precedent for allowing the federal government to dictate how livestock and poultry producers raise and care for their animals.’

“Robert L. Krouse, chairman of United Egg Producers, acknowledged the difficulties ahead.

“‘That’s part of what we have to do, as United Egg Producers, is talk with these other groups and hopefully get them to see our point of view,’ said Mr. Krouse, an Indiana egg farmer. ‘We understand their concerns, but this is about egg producers, this is a solution that we’ve found for us.’”

Today’s article noted that, “A federal law would be intended to pre-empt state laws. But the groups said it would have to include a faster transition timetable for California egg farmers to match the schedule approved in the ballot measure there, which requires larger cages by 2015.”

A statement yesterday from Arnie Riebli, the President of the Association of California Egg Farmers indicated that:

“While we are still in the process of reviewing today’s agreement between HSUS and the United Egg Producers, we welcome the recognition by HSUS that the enriched colony system is a suitable hen habitat. California’s egg farmers have long advocated the use of an enriched colony system as a superior living area for hens.

“At the same time, we are very disappointed that California is not being treated equally as the other 49 states. While the rest of the nation’s egg producers have until 2029 to spend an estimated five billion dollars necessary to comply with this agreement, California egg farmers must comply by 2015.”

Philip Brasher, writing yesterday at his new FoodWatch Blog, reported that, “The egg industry has known for some time that the so-called battery cages that are now the standard industry practice would have to be replaced with something more acceptable to the public. But producers didn’t want to go cage-free, as HSUS had been pushing, in part because cage-free operations require more and better trained workers. Cage-free hens also need more feed, further increasing production costs. The industry preferred instead to switch to a larger style of cages, known as ‘enriched colony’ housing, that give the birds more room to move around and also include perches and nesting areas. (See photo) The deal announced today between HSUS and the United Egg Producers allows the industry to do just that and gives farms a decade and a half to phase in the new housing.

“There’s a big catch, however. The two groups agreed to jointly ask Congress for a federal law that set standards and a timeline for the changes, and that legislation will have to pass for the deal to go through. If the bill doesn’t pass, ‘then the agreement would be off and we’d be likely to see more ballot measures, litigation, etc. Both sides want to work together to enact,’ HSUS’ Paul Shapiro told me.”

And the AP reported yesterday that, “Threatened with a series of state laws cracking down on cramped cages, the egg industry on Thursday said it would agree to seek federal regulation to improve conditions for egg-laying hens.

Statement Of National Pork Producers Council
Feedstuffs. HSUS, UEP reach agreement to transition to colonies
Brownfield. HSUS, United Egg agree on federal standards
Brownfield. NPPC president says federal standard bad idea
Better housing for hens may mean higher prices for eggs