AGRICULTURE

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

The General Agreement on Trade
and Tariffs will increase the amount of pork
the U.S. can export to Europe to 624,000 met-
ric tons by 1999, six times the 1991 volume.
Drawn by relatively weak U.S. pollution
laws, European hog producers are rushing to
set up U.S. branches, including the Pig
Improvement Co., of Great Britain, the
world’s largest hog breeder, which hopes to
raise 100,000 hogs per year at a site near
Hennessy, Oklahoma. The facility will gen-
erate as much sewage as a town of 170,000
people. A Danish firm is reportedly planning
an even bigger operation: a 600,000-hog con-
finement farm to be sited in Alaska, where
there are virtually no laws pertaining to farm-
related pollution because farming ventures
there have historically failed.

Sodden fields that precluded
manure spreading, together with a late
spring thaw, brought Pennsylvania the worst
farm-related pollution of waterways that offi-
cials could remember, as manure piles melt-
ed down into point sources for stinking
runoff. The EPA recently reported that
manure pollutes 30% to 40% of all U.S.
waterways, affecting 103,439 river miles.
All other pollution sources combined affect
just 155,300 river miles.
While the Wise-Use Wiseguys
scream that wetlands protection is hurting
farmers, farmers in 20 states have responded
to the USDA’s Wetlands Reserve Program by
volunteering seven times more land for pro-
tection than the program has the budget to
enroll. The program was designed to pay
farmers for conservation easements plus up to
75% of the cost of converting farm land back
to wetlands. Expecting to enroll 75,000
acres, the USDA was offered 580,725 acres,
including 91,338 in Mississippi, 80,587 in
Louisiana, 71,413 in Arkansas, 57,439 in
Iowa, and 48,475 in California.
The National Cattlemen’s
Association claims that since 1980, coyotes
are 84% more numerous on U.S. farmland, as
are whitetailed deer; wild turkeys are up
70%; raccoons are up 48%; foxes are up
43%; grouse are up 41%, quail are up 38%;
and ducks are up 32%, despite a marked
overall decline of the species due to overhunt-
ing and habitat loss. The NCA isn’t as eager
to talk about songbirds, whose numbers are
down to a comparable degree, chiefly due to
the destruction of woodland habitat.
Maine and Vermont in mid-April
adopted legislation establishing tracking
systems for milk produced with the use of
genetically engineered bovine growth hor-
mone. The maker of the hormone,
Monsanto, is reportedly investigating law-
suits seeking to overturn the state laws,
which appear to contravene the intent of the
November 1993 Food and Drug Administr-
ation ruling that milk produced with the use
of the hormone is indistinguishable from any
other milk.
Protesting the USDA-mandated
hot iron face branding of cattle imported
from Mexico, Animal Rights International
placed a full-page ad in the March 15 edition
of The New York Times, showing closeups of
a Hereford actually being face-branded. The
ad, costing $19,000, brought more than
1,000 calls of protest to the USDA within the
next two days, USDA spokesperson Margaret
Webb told The Legal Times––and that wasn’t
counting letters or communications to public
officials. A second anti-face branding ad was
to appear as ANIMAL PEOPLE went to
press. The face branding is supposedly more
indelible than ear tags, but forging a brand is
relatively simple.
A “plan for avoiding possible dis-
ruptions by animal rights individuals/
groups” at 4-H events, authored by Carolyn
Stull and Duncan McMartin of the University
of California at Davis Veterinary Medicine
Extension advises on page 3, “Be truthful at
all times with the media,” then adds on page
4, that chicks, calves, and lambs should
never be called b a b i e s; that animals farrow,
hatch, foal, or bear, not give birth; that 4-H
members should say p r o c e s s, not k i l l o r
slaughter; that drugs should be called health
products; that the term family farm should be
used instead of factory farm (although they
denote radically different things, not just dif-
ferent shades of meaning); and that debeaking
should be called beak trimming. They left out
referring to manure as fertilizer.
Kyle Schwedtfeger, 22, was fined
$1,000 on April 1 for beating a lamb all over
her body so that it would feel more firm to the
judges at the Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair
Junior Livestock Auction last September.
Lamb owner Mike Herrel, 16, who held the
animal during the beating, was not charged,
but forfeited prize money.
Maine state veterinarian Chip
Ridky refused to recommend charges
against farmer John Ahern of Dexter on
March 28, after receiving complaints about
two dead calves. “They were auction calves,”
Ridky said, “who often die very quickly.
That is just the nature of auction calves.”
Ridky was to answer cruelty charges in
Newport District Court on April 13 for
allegedly allowing 18 pigs to starve last
February. Ridky did recommend charges in
that case.
The National Dairy Promotion
and Research Board and United Dairy
Association agreed in mid-March to set up a
joint umbrella called Dairy Management Inc.
to help promote the dairy industry. They have
a combined budget of $108 million raised
through levies on dairy products. A beef
industry task force meanwhile recommended
the unification of the Cattleman’s Beef Board,
Beef Industry Council of the National Live
Stock & Meat Board, National Cattlemen’s
Association, and U.S. Meat Export Feder-
ation, to streamline promotion.
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