From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1994:
At deadline Washington D.C. sources believed
a Justice Department probe of accusations that Agriculture
Secretary Mike Espy improperly accepted free travel, foot-
ball tickets, and other favors from the Tyson poultry empire
would end without charges being filed. However, Bob
Gottsch, a leading Nebraska cattle feeder, on June 14 sued
Espy for $22 million in damages, alleging Espy unfairly
favored poultry over beef in strengthening sanitary require-
ments for beef slaughterhouses without likewise regulating
poultry slaughterers. Ironically, Espy was editorially hit the
same week by The New York Times for purportedly favoring
beef by exempting hamburger from a requirement that meat
product labels must accurately describe fat content.
Despite recent improvements, the USDA meat
inspection system “is only marginally better today at pro-
tecting the public from harmful bacteria than it was a year
ago or even 87 years ago when it was first put in place,”
General Accounting Office food and agriculture chief John
Harmon told Congress on May 25.
An archaeological team led by Dr. Michael
Rosenberg of the University of Delaware has excavated
evidence at Hallan Cemi, Turkey, that humans domesticat-
ed pigs before taking up cultivation––2,000 years after
domesticating dogs but 2,000 years before domesticating
sheep and goats. The finding suggests that agriculture may
have evolved not to stabilize crop production for direct
human use, but rather to stabilize fodder production.
Perdue University professor William M. Muir
says he has developed a docile breed of chicken who won’t
require debeaking to prevent fatal fights in cages. Rose
Acre Farms, one of the biggest egg producers in the U.S.,
estimates the mortality rate for hens who are not debeaked
at 35%; Muir, whose 13-year project was both state and
federally funded, claims a mortality rate of 3%.
“The evidence shows beyond all reasonable
doubt that keeping hens in cages is extremely distressing in
many different ways,” Dr. Mike Baxter of Brunel
University testified in the June 15 edition of The Veterinary
Record, a British journal.
Biotechnologies Inc., formed by California engi-
neers James Hamamoto and Renato Lumbroso, is attracting
attention with an organic method for high-volume steriliza-
tion of cow manure. The end product is reportedly a superi-
or fertilizer, free of harmful organic elements, but as rich
in nutrients and as easily handled as peat moss. The process
may become a solution to the waste disposal problem that
has become the Achilles heel of factory dairy farming.
Today’s semi-urban factory dairy operations are typically
situated prohibitively far from the fields where their hay is
produced: trucking the manure away to spread costs more
than it’s worth. The Hamamoto/Lumbroso process purport-
edly improves the quality of the fertilizer to the point that
trucking becomes economical. Hamamoto and Lumbroso
developed it after serving as consultants with a failed
attempt to generate energy from cow manure.
Rather than comply with pollution laws, the
ConAgra Red Meat Co. on May 15 abruptly closed its
Northern States Beef slaughterhouse in Edgar, Wisconsin,
throwing 450 people out of work without warning. Holding
about 30% of the U.S. market, ConAgra is the world’s
largest meatpacker, with sales of $16.2 billion in 1992.
Utah State University is beginning a $300,000
EPA study of methane emissions from bovine belch-
ing––a follow-up to a similar study of methane releases
from manure begun at Washington State University in 1991.
Although a 1991 analysis by Cornell University holds that a
cow has the same effect on global warming as a continuous-
ly burning 75-watt light bulb, other authorities believe cat-
tle produce about 20% of all global methane emissions, and
are thus a major cause of the “greenhouse effect” buildup of
methane in the upper atmosphere.
Compassion in World Farming and Global
Action in the Interest of Animals shocked the European
Union farm ministers on May 30 with a special screening of
a new film, For a few pennies more, which documents
livestock abuse in transit––especially in France and Italy.
The European Parliament in December recommended an
eight-hour limit on continuous animal transport. 1991 legis-
lation, now in effect, requires transporters to feed and
water animals only once per 24 hours.
The summer 1994 edition of the Canadians for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals newsletter features
anonymous testimony from cattle truckers about neglect and
abuse of animals en route from farm to slaughter. Inquire
c/o POB 18024, 2225 W. 41st Ave., Vancouver, B.C.,
Canada V6M 4L3.