Thursday, March 31, 2011

Investigations clear New York dairy of animal abuse

By Dairy Herd News Source | Updated: March 28, 2011 reports investigations by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets and other experts show the Willet Dairy meets or exceeds animal-care standards despite accusations by an animal-rights organization.

An undercover worker from Mercy for Animals, a Chicago-based animal-rights group, released a video showing what it called inhumane treatment of cows and calves at Willet Dairy. Results from two investigations found the dairy’s workers used care practices equal to or above industry standards. The final reports showed no systemic abuse of cattle on the farm.

The investigation was completed by state Department of Agriculture and Markets, state Cattle Health and Assurance Program, state College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Health Diagnostic Center and ProDairy.

The investigation did find one dairy worker from the video hitting a cow on the nose with a screwdriver handle. That employee, Phil Niles, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. He was fined $350, was fired from the dairy and is denied contact with animals for a year, according to The Post-Standard.

Apart from the charge against Niles, practices on the farm kept the 5,000-cow dairy cows clean and well cared for. Some of the practices Mercy for Animals found inhumane were common and according to the district attorney’s report, “not currently illegal in New York state.”

The undercover work who released the video admitted he is not an expert on dairy operations or New York state animal-welfare laws.

Senate panel OKs ban on undercover farm videos

By ANDREW DUFFELMEYER - Bloomberg Business Week

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill Wednesday aimed at preventing animal rights activists from getting hired on farms to secretly record what they believe is the mistreatment of livestock.

The bill would make it illegal to secretly record and distribute videos and punish those who take jobs on farms only to gain access to record animals' treatment. Penalties include up to five years in prison and fines of up to $7,500.

The committee approved the bill on a voice vote, while the Republican-led House approved the measure 65-27 on March 17.

Critics of the bill say it would have a chilling effect on free speech and the question of whether it is constitutional could be challenged in court, something that could prove expensive for the state.

"Our primary concern is the constitutionality of the bill," said Adam Mason of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. "It seems like it's going to limit free speech of individuals."

The bill's manager, Democratic Sen. Tom Rielly of Oskaloosa, agreed the measure needs more work before it goes to the Senate floor for a vote.

But Rielly said he still believes the bill is necessary to prevent animal cruelty. Some animal rights groups film abuse of livestock without reporting it and then use it to gain publicity, Rielly said. Full story at link