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    • Updated: 01/28/2023
      Copyright - 2005-2023
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      Horizon Professional Services


    The following is published in The Humane Scorecard .. A project of The Humane Society of the United States & Humane Society Legislative Fund

    Humane Methods of Slaughter Act Enforcement
    Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) again championed the cause of improving enforcement of the HMSA with targeted funding, support by Senators Santorum & Levin. Representatives Smith & Blumenauer, & the co-signers of the group letter. In FY 06, Congress approved $9 million to help ensure that animals at slaughter plants aren't hung upside down, cut, scalded, skinned or dismembered while still conscious. This includes $5 million to implement a new system for tracking violations of the federal humane slaughter law.

    Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)
    Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) again led successful efforts to keep out a threatened "rider" by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) to exempt factory farms from key environmental laws that require public reporting of toxic emissions ("Right-to-know" law) & require polluters to pay for cleanups (Superfund). These laws provide important help for those challenging concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in their local communities.

    Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) won Senate approval by voice vote for an amendment to the FY06 Agriculture Appropriations bill to ensure that "downers" - livestock too sick or injured to walk - aren't allowed into the human food supply by prohibiting USDA inspectors from approving meat from such animals. Prohibiting the use of downers for human consumption removes the financial incentive for farmers to send these suffering animals to slaughter. Downers are known to be at higher risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE OR "mad cow disease), E. coli & Salmonella.

    Just a few weeks after House-Senate conferees decided to drop a parallel provision in the FY 04 Agriculture Appropriations bill, the first U.S. case of BSE was announced - involving a reportedly downed cow in Washington State, whose meat had already been shipped to supermarkets in various states. The USDA then proposed an interim rule to keep all downer cattle out of the human food supply, but industry lobbyists have been working to weaken this rule. They argue that animals who are downed due to injury rather than illness pose no public health threat, even though at least three of the seven identified cases of BSE in North America have involved cows who were deemed to be downed due to injury. It's very difficult for an inspector to properly determine why an animal is down. Injury & illness are often interrelated. And no animal should be dragged by a fractured limb, shocked, beaten or bulldozed onto the killing floor, regardless of the reason the animal can't walk. A comprehensive ban on USDA approval of meat from ANY downed animal - including pigs, cows & sheep - would also help encourage producers to take extra care to keep animals from becoming downers in the first place. Unfortunately, Senator Akaka's amendment was again rejected in the House-Senate conference on the FY 06 Agriculture Appropriations bill. He & Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY) & Steven LaTourette (R-OH) have introduced the Downed Animal Protection Act (S. 1779/H.R. 3931) - to permanently ban USDA approval of meat from any downed animal & to require immediate humane euthanasia of downers.

    Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) & Edward Kennedy (D-MA) & Representative Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (S.742/H.R.2562) to phase out the routine feeding of antibiotics to animals to speed their growth & prevent disease in overcrowded stressful factory farms. Agricultural overuse of antibiotics - which accounts for an estimated 70 percent of all antibiotic use in this country - supports inhumane conditions & contributes to the development of anti-biotic resistance, undermining the drugs effectiveness for treating sick people & animals.

    Humane Poultry Slaughter
    Since the 1950s, federal law has required that animals be rendered insensible to pain before slaughter, but the USDA interprets this law to exclude poultry - 95 percent of all farm animals slaughtered for food, or nine billion animals a year. Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) is leading the effort to draft legislation that would specifically give this most basic protection to chicken, turkeys, rabbits & other currently excluded species under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

    Farm Animal Welfare/Procurement
    More than 10 billion farm animals are killed in the United States each year for food or fiber, but no federal law requires humane treatment of these animals on the farm. Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT) plans to introduce legislation enabling the federal government to help lead the way on humane care of such animals by requiring government contractors to follow basic humane care standards if they're providing farm animal products for federal programs such as school lunches, the military & federal prisons.


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