Tuesday, July 31, 2012

USDA Threatens Small Business Owner with $450,000 in Fines

Without much fanfare, Dean Moyer has raised gerbils and hamsters for 12 years. He’s sold them to distributors who, in turn, have sold them to pet store owners across the country. Chances are good that the pet hamster your neighbor’s kid always carries in his hand came from Moyer’s Sand Valley Farms, Inc. But that could change soon if the folks at the USDA have their way.

“Basically, the USDA just wants me to close up,” Moyer said. “They just want me to get out of the hamster business.”

After an inspection by two individuals, including one veterinarian, from Youngstown, Ohio rather than his local inspector, Moyer received a letter from USDA advising him they found 45 violations for which he could be fined $10,000 each - or $450,000.

Full story at Bob McCarty.com

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran calls foul on USDA Meatless Monday effort

DC Caller. By Caroline May

On Wednesday, Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran called on Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to explain why the agency’s employee newsletter encouraged them to not eat meat and participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative for the environment.

Read more

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

USDA “Meatless Mondays” Uproar

Ag Wired. Posted on July 25, 2012 by Cindy

An internal USDA Greening Update newsletter that promotes “Meatless Mondays” caused a bit of an uproar on Wednesday.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) sent out a news release linking to the newsletter and questioning USDA’s commitment to the livestock industry. The newsletter talked about various “greening” initiatives by the agency and suggested that “one simple way to reduce our environmental impact while dining at our cafeteria is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative.” But it didn’t stop there:

The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat.

Within an hour after the NCBA release went out, USDA pulled the newsletter from the initial link and a statement was sent out by USDA press secretary Courtney Rowe. “Today, we have received a number of inquiries regarding a rumor that USDA is encouraging “Meatless Mondays,” she wrote, adding a statement from an unnamed USDA spokesperson that “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed.”

The offending document was found on another link, and you can read the whole thing here where we uploaded it to our server. Just deleting the document from the link does not address this issue at all, since this is an internal newsletter that was sent to USDA employees. That makes this more than a “rumor.” While the Secretary may have been unaware of this gaffe and it may not be “official” USDA policy, the message has been sent to USDA employees that meat is bad for the environment. Not only does this have to be pulled, action should be taken against whoever wrote it and an immediate retraction should be made in a new “Greening Update.”

This is animal activism in a government agency that should be supporting all of agriculture and it is unacceptable.

Sacramento restaurants find loopholes in foie gras ban

Banning foie gras ended up being a boon for its popularity.

The state's July 1 ban on foie gras was supposed to prevent the fatty goose or duck liver from being served at California restaurants. Instead, foie gras has become more popular, and enforcement of the new law has been nearly nonexistent.

Sacramento chefs and others from around California are exposing loopholes in the law, making foie gras fairly easy to find in restaurants despite its blacklisted status. You can find it served at such restaurants as The Kitchen in Sacramento, where foie gras is treated as a complimentary item – not officially for sale and technically, some say, not illegal.

"There's more interest in foie gras now than ever," said Randall Selland, executive chef and owner of The Kitchen. "If you ask to try it, we'll let you have some. It won't be on the menu and there's no extra charge."

Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks or geese with a funnel and long tube to create an engorged liver, a process known as gavage. Though foie gras has deep roots in France's culinary traditions, gavage has been outlawed in a number of European countries. The California ban was instituted in 2004 with the passage of SB 1520, and given a 7 1/2-year sunset for the law to take effect.

Some California chefs stocked up on foie gras before the ban took effect, with plans to offer it after July 1 as a complimentary item and duck the letter of the law.

"We know what the rules are, but we have enough to last a couple of months," said Selland. "We're waiting to see how this pans out and how it can be done. There's a multitude of ways to do it." Full story at Sacramento Bee

Thursday, July 19, 2012

APHIS rule update

SAOVA friends,

We should never underestimate the resolve of animal rights organizations to bring an end to animal ownership and breeding as we know it today. I trust all our readers have been following the progress of the APHIS proposed rule for regulating retail pet sellers. The rule is widely promoted by HSUS, ASPCA, PETA, ALDF and others as merely closing a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and a means to run puppy mills out of business. Never forget that in the eyes of these radical groups and their brainwashed followers we are all irresponsible puppy mills. More than two decades ago, HSUS developed campaign materials promoting a moratorium on breeding cats and dogs and guidelines for mandatory spay/neuter laws. PETA stated long ago, “There is no such thing as a responsible breeder”; and went on to say, “Simply put, for every puppy or kitten who is deliberately produced by any breeder, an animal in an animal shelter dies.”

This week the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) weighed in on the APHIS rule. Their submitted comment should be a wakeup call to anyone who holds the illusion that any part of this rule is necessary or that a compromise should be negotiated.

After the tried and true AR-speak statement that “puppy mills produce an estimated two to four million puppies each year often in deplorable and inhumane conditions”, ALDF proceeds to support the rule as a beginning and highlight their ideas for additional steps needed. To summarize, ALDF opposed any expanded exemption from three to four breeding females for dog, cat, and small animal breeders; requested automatic license suspensions for repeat offenders; requested automatic confiscation of distressed animals.

Finally, ALDF requests the AWA be amended by Congress to allow private right of action for enforcement with fee shifting provision. ALDF suggests to APHIS that allowing third parties to file suit against violators would enhance enforcement process and at the same time remove some of the agency’s cost burden. The ALDF comment can be viewed online at the Federal Register.

The comment period for the proposed APHIS rule regulating retail sellers has been extended until August 15. If you value your right to own and breed dogs without federal restrictions, please continue to submit comments and encourage clubs and businesses to do the same.

Again, encourage organizations and businesses to join the SAOVA Opposition List. To add your organization's name, send an email signed by an officer of the organization stating opposition to: Susan Wolf cubhill@earthlink.net. Please include organization's address. http://www.saova.org/APHIS_Opposition.List.html

Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's & Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to Identify and Elect Supportive Legislators

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Video targets hog production practices

An expert panel viewing the video stated that much of the narration was not supported by the video footage, the animal handling practices were humane and supported by both the American Veterinary Medical Assn. and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the animal behavior that the video asserted was evidence of abuse was actually natural behavior.

7/18/12 Rod Smith. Feedstuffs

Mercy for Animals, an animal protection organization which promotes vegetarianism, has released an undercover video filmed at a hog production farm in Hanska, Minn., showing alleged animal abuse, including sows housed in individual stalls, piglets being killed by workers by slamming their heads against concrete flooring and piglets having their tails cut off and testicles ripped off without pain killers.

The video was filmed with a hidden camera at the Christensen Farms operations in Hanska and was narrated by Bob Barker, an animal welfare advocate and former host of "The Price Is Right."

The video was posted at Mercy for Animals' web site July 16 and a public announcement was made July 18.

It prompted the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) to pull together an expert panel of animal scientists to review the tape and narration.

It was timed to coincide with an announcement by Costco Wholesale Corp. and Kmart that they are implementing new procurement policies to purchase pork from only stall-free suppliers by 2022, and it was used to encourage Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to implement a similar strategy.

Animal protection organizations say sow stalls are a particularly abhorrent production practice that confines gestating sows in stalls large enough for the animals to only lay down and stand up and leads to health and welfare problems. Full story

Saturday, July 14, 2012

APHIS Comment Period Extended to August 15

7/13/12. APHIS ANNOUNCEMENT. "We are is extending the comment period for our proposed rule that would revise the definition of retail pet store and related regulations to bring more pet animals sold at retail under the protection of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). We are also announcing the availability of a revised factsheet regarding our proposal. These actions will allow interested persons additional time to prepare and submit comments."

Links to the Docket, suggested comments, various articles, and the SAOVA Opposition List can be found at the SAOVA website. Please continue to spread the word. The rule needs to be withdrawn in its entirety. Comment at the Federal Register portal, write your Congressmen, and join the SAOVA Opposition List.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kudos to Rep. Steve King's Amendment to the Farm Bill

In more specific news about the House Ag Committee markup earlier this week, Chris Clayton reported yesterday at the DTN Ag Policy Blog that, “In a shot against state ballot initiatives on agricultural production standards, the committee adopted an amendment thatprevents states from denying the trade of an agricultural product from another state based on its means of production.

“Committee members got into the details of the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution and the way it may be usurped by state ballot initiatives on issues such as pork gestation or egg production. The amendment goes after the spreading use of such state ballot measures.

“Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who introduced the amendment, characterized it as a ‘protect interstate commerce amendment’ by prohibiting states from regulating the means of production over a particular farm product. King cited issues such as pork production, eggs and cages for hens and expressed concern that states adopting such laws on production standards would restrict shipping of those products from other states.”

Speaking on yesterday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams, Senior Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, Mary Kay Thatcher, indicated that the King Amendment was “the Amendment of the Farm Bill yesterday.” To listen to a portion of Ms. Thatcher’s remarks on this issue from yesterday’s AgriTalk show, just click here (MP3- 1:27).

To listen to the full discussion leading up to the vote on the King Amendment that took place Wednesday night during the House Ag Committee markup, just click here (MP3- 23:00). The clip includes remarks from Reps. Steve King (R., Iowa), Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.),Dennis Cardoza (D., Calif.), Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.), Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.), Mike Conaway (R., Tex.), and Marlin Stutzman (R., Ind.).
The audio clip is a bit lengthy, but the discussion regarding the King Amendment was interesting and educational. Source: FarmPolicy.com, Inc.

Related: Rep. King statement on the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA) Amendment

Thursday, July 12, 2012

HSUS sends notices of plans to sue 51 pork producers

In its continuing campaign to disrupt animal agriculture, HSUS is now preparing to file suits against a number of North Carolina, Iowa, and Oklahoma pork producers. Does your Congressman understand the real HSUS agenda?

Feedstuffs. Rod Smith 7/11/2012
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) gave notice this afternoon that it plans to file lawsuits against 51 large-scale pork producers in North Carolina, Iowa and Oklahoma for unreported ammonia releases into the environment.

HSUS said it identified the alleged offenders "after months of research" and said the companies emit "hundreds of pounds" of ammonia per day, endangering farm animals, wildlife, the environment and rural communities.

"It was no surprise," HSUS said, that many of the producers who will receive notices are affiliated with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the trade group representing the U.S. pork industry that defends the use of gestation stalls for pregnant sows, a practice that HSUS finds abhorrent and is seeking to end.

The letters of notice are required under the federal Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act before litigation can start.

HSUS recognized that there are producers who are "attentive" to animal welfare and environmental issues, but said some of the wealthiest producers "apparently refuse to comply with critical" public health laws.

In response to "notices" sent today to 51 pork producers by HSUS, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said late this afternoon it is reviewing the allegations, but regardless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is itself still evaluating air emissions data from livestock and poultry operations to develop "a better understanding" of emission rates.

NPPC said it is important to note that HSUS is not alleging environmental harm but paperwork violations of EPA's emissions reporting rule that has created widespread confusion, including one state's claim that EPA notices are "an internet hoax."

NPPC said the notices represent "another scare tactic" to get NPPC "to back off" its opposition to the HSUS-United Egg Producers agreement on hen housing and the congressional legislation that would codify the agreement into law, as well as NPPC's efforts to correct the record on the HSUS "truth-twisting campaign" against producers who use gestation stalls for pregnant sows.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alliance Adds Balance to Antibiotic Resistance Discussion

July 5, 2012 – The Animal Agriculture Alliance joined 15 other agricultural organizations today in submitting a letter to Congress in response to the recent Consumers Union report on the use of antibiotics in animal production. Read the full letter here.

The coalition wrote:
“We strongly believe consumers deserve a choice when it comes to their meat and poultry purchases. However, consumers can make an informed choice through balanced information about the challenges, benefits and realities of the various approaches to raising and processing livestock and poultry. We do not believe it serves the consumer to stigmatize certain production systems to boost others.”

Other organizations that signed on to the letter include the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, American Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Health Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Grain and Feed Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and the North American Meat Association.

The Alliance previously addressed the Consumers Union report in a blog post dated June 26. Additional resources explaining the role that antibiotics and other animal health products play in producing safe food can be found on the Alliance’s website.

Additionally, on July 5, the Alliance sent a letter to the editor in response to a July 1 Washington Post editorial that oversimplified the complex problem of antibiotic resistance. Read the full letter here.

Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith wrote:
“Calling for “Meat Without Drugs” to eliminate the use of antibiotics in farm animals may sound like a good idea, but the very title is misleading and inflammatory. Our meat and poultry supply is already “without drugs.” When farm animals are sometimes treated to prevent or control disease, a strict withdrawal period is followed to ensure that the end products are safe.

The claim that 80 percent of antibiotics are used on farm animals is unsubstantiated. Fully 40 percent of animal antibiotics are compounds not used in human medicine. FDA has initiated a process ensuring that all medically-important antibiotics will be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian and only for therapeutic purposes.”

The Alliance supports the responsible use of antibiotics by farmers and ranchers in order to maintain the health of their animals and to continue to provide consumers with high-quality food products.

About the Alliance:
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a broad-based coalition of individual farmers, ranchers, producers, organizations, suppliers, packer-processors, scientists, veterinarians and retailers. The Alliance's mission is to communicate the importance of animal agriculture to our nation's economy, vitality and security. Find the Alliance on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oppose APHIS proposed licensing of pet sellers

APHIS has proposed regulation for pet sellers who own 5 or more intact females and sell pets remotely by any means. For sellers, this means every transaction must take place with the buyer physically entering your premises. If you sell dogs, cats, rabbits, small exotic animals, or other small pets and cannot qualify for the revised narrow exemptions then you must obtain a federal license and meet set standards.

Living under USDA licensing is NOT an option for the average retail seller. The average house cannot be converted to a USDA compliant facility. Federal engineered standards for licensed facilities dictate enclosure sizes, sanitation, surfaces that are impervious to moisture, ventilation, bio-hazard control, veterinary care, exercise, temperature controls, waste disposal systems, diurnal lighting, drainage systems, washrooms, perimeter fencing, as well as transportation standards for regulated animals. Breeding stock is not allowed in your home. This means separate facilities for both breeding stock and puppies. It does not matter how well you think you care for your animals, Federal regulations are not flexible and do not allow for your own discretion. You must strictly adhere to what the regulations and your inspector say are acceptable equipment, care, and husbandry practices.

The rule will penalize many hard-working Americans caught up under this regulation who are not operating as true businesses. If required to hold a license, you can be fined by USDA simply for being at work and not being home to let the inspector onto your property.

Add your organization's name to SAOVA's Opposition List.
Send a strong message to Congress! Ask Congress to help stop this proposed rule.

Foie gras ban triggers California lawsuit

A Canadian duck-farming trade organization, a New York producer of duck delicacies and a Los Angeles restaurant group have joined together in a lawsuit to strike down a new California law prohibiting the sale of foie gras.

The suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles maintains the law, which outlaws force-feeding birds for the purpose of enlarging their livers and selling products from force-fed birds, is unconstitutional, vague and interferes with federal commerce laws.

Michael Tenenbaum, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he also plans to ask the court for a preliminary injunction, which would freeze the law until it can be hashed out in court. He said the request would be made soon, but gave no further details.

The foie gras ban went into effect Sunday. More: at SFGate