HSUS rightfully praises one governor and slams another

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Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the US praised the accomplishments of one outgoing governor and the slammed the negative record of another, in a blog post on Monday.

Pat Quinn is out as governor of Illinois. His record on animal welfare was a solid one. Pacelle noted he vetoed a bill on the way door that would have opened up trophy hunting and commercial trapping of bobcats.

Last year, Quinn signed into law a ban on the possession, sale, or distribution of shark fins. He signed the state’s puppy lemon law and an antifreeze safety law. He also fought for restrictions on tethering and promoted non-lethal methods for law-enforcement in handling animals and pushed for a ban on the trade of primates as pets.

But as pro-compassion as Quinn was, Pacelle counters with the horrible record of out-going Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman. He vetoed a bill to ban the trophy hunting of mountain lions and fought to preserve the horrible use of battery cages for hens and gestation crates for pigs.

Heinman seems to be charter member of anti-science and anti-compassion clubs.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Wanna see some real factory-farming propaganda?

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It’s the old argument little kids use with their parents: “But Mom, Billy did it too. He does it all the time. No fair.”

An opinion piece on the Beef Magazine website popped up on the Pack News Wire concerning the topic of the “Emotion in Animal Welfare.” – (Interesting already)

It seems a Purdue University associate professor of animal behavior and well-being spoke before a group in Nebraska and offered some very odd spin on that well-being part. She apparently showed a photo of hens in battery cages beside a photo of two parrots in a cage. And used the Billy-does-it-too argument. Of course, it’s more like – ‘I burned the house down, but Billy broke a lamp, so no fair punishing me.’

And she is quoted as saying, “When we think about animal welfare, everyone has a different idea of what that means.” – No, not really. And later, the associate professor is quoted on the topic of what meat producers should be saying, – “Make sure people know no one is more concerned about our animals than us, and that we are committed to their health and welfare.”

And in the middle of that editorial, I found a link to another piece submitted by the Center For Consumer Freedom (a name not really related to what the group wants).

It starts off trying to define the terms ‘animal rights’ versus ‘animal welfare.’ The writer suggests “animal welfare requires science-based, sometimes difficult choices.” Actually, that’s right – and science-based is where people like me like to go. But then the text turns away from science.

It is suggested hens in cages have a lower mortality rate than hens in cage-free and free-range environments. So stuff the hens in cages where they suffer 24/7 and they’ll live longer. Forget the suffering, even within the notion that the suffering goes for a longer period of time.

It seems their ‘science’ fails to take other factors directly related to the hen’s health into account. What’s the term I need here … what is it? …. oh yeah, that’s science limited to the narrow confines of a cage.

Amendment to US House Farm Bill supports cruelty

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There are two rather twisting aspects to an article published Friday on the Sacramento Bee website.

The topic centers on a US House Farm Bill amendment that would prevent states from blocking the sale of agriculture products from other states, as one state might object to the way that other states produce that product.

It all has to do with California’s standards on battery cages. In 2015, all eggs sold in the state can only come from facilities where the hens are housed in cages large enough to allow them to stand and spread their wings.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa doesn’t like that. He apparently believes cruelty is acceptable and that no state should be able to institute even this minimal improvement for the lives of farm animals.

But here is where the second twisted aspect comes into the article. King is quoted as saying – “If California wants to regulate eggs that come into the state, fine.” But then he states – “But don’t be telling the states that are producing a product that’s already approved by the USDA or the FDA how to produce that product.”

Is it me, or does this not make any sense at all. So he’s saying it’s okay for California to regulate the eggs coming into the state, but then again it’s NOT okay to do that. It seems to me California is not telling factory farms in other states how to “produce” their products. It is only saying we won’t allow eggs to be sold within the state from hens in smaller cages. This is exactly what King says is “fine” in the first statement.
If anyone else is reading more into this than I am, please comment below.
The Humane Society of the US fears the Farm Bill amendment could also toss out California’s ban on foie gras. Wouldn’t King typically support states rights?? I guess he is only against states rights in cases where it might protect animals from cruelty.

Pack Topics: Egg bill amendment rejected; cougars making a comeback

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The US Senate rejected this week a contentious Farm Bill amendment that would have doubled the space in cages for egg-laying hens on factory farms.

The Humane Farming Association (HFA) and another animal-welfare organizations have been speaking out against the amendment, suggesting it would have overturned California’s Prop. 2, while ensuring hens remained caged – as opposed to turning to truly cage-free hens. The HFA was calling it the “Rotten Egg Bill.”

MarketWatch.com also reports the United Egg Producers (UEP) organization is involved in a scandal and along with several egg companies “” has been sued repeatedly for alleged illegal price fixing, paying $25 million to settle allegations that they illegally manipulated the price and supply of eggs under the guise of instituting standards for animal welfare. “”

Priscilla Feral, the president of Friends of Animals, is quoted in the article as saying, “There is no such thing as an ‘enriched’ battery cage.”

I stated before that this might have been a step in the direction, but in light of the scandal information and the possibility that it might very well throw up a roadblock to truly cage-free hens, I’ll have to say it is best that the amendment was defeated. We cannot allow the momentum to slow down for more humane regulations on factory farming.

I hope this next section leads to a more positive outcome for an animal species:

I received a press release this week with the following headline – “Cougars Are Re-Populating Their Historical Range, New Study Confirms”

The release in its entirety –

“” “”
New Evidence Shows How American Big Cats are Reversing 100 Years of Decline

American mountain lions, or cougars, are re-emerging in areas of the United States, reversing 100 years of decline. The evidence, published in The Journal of Wildlife Management, raises new conservation questions, such as how humans can live alongside the returning predators.

“The cougar population declined dramatically from 1900, due to both hunting, and a lack of prey, leaving the remaining population isolated to the American west,” said Michelle LaRue from the University of Minnesota. “Here we present the hard evidence that the western population has spread, with cougar populations re-establishing across the Midwest.”

Three main cougar populations exist in the Midwest centered around The Black Hills in South Dakota, however, cougars are venturing far outside of this range. One male cougar from the Black Hills was found to have traveled 2,900 kilometers through Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, before ending up in Connecticut.

“While the distance the Connecticut cougar traveled was rare, we found that cougars are roaming long distances and are moving back into portions of their historical range across the Midwest ”, said LaRue. “Our study took in over 3,200,000 Km² of territory, confirming the presence of Cougars from Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska, to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.”

Working alongside scientists from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and The Cougar Network, LaRue and Principal Investigator Dr. Clay Nielsen analyzed cougar sightings which have been reported since the 1990’s to characterize confirmed sightings over time, assess habitat suitability and confirm where cougar populations are being re-established.

Aside from confirmed sightings, the team’s evidence included carcasses, tracks, photos, video, DNA evidence and cases of attacks on livestock across 14 states and provinces of North America. Only sightings which were verified by wildlife professionals were included, while sightings of animals known to be released from captivity were excluded to ensure only natural repopulation was analyzed.

The results reveal 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest with the number of confirmations steadily increasing between 1990 and 2008. Approximately 62% of confirmed sightings took place within 20km of habitat that would be considered suitable for cougar populations.

When cougar carcasses were recovered 76% were found to be male. As the Connecticut example shows, males are capable of traveling long distances and this finding suggests males are leading a stepping-stone dispersal of the cougar population.

“This evidence helps to confirm that cougars are re-colonizing their historical range and reveals that sightings have increased over the past two decades,” concluded LaRue. “The question now is how the public will respond after living without large carnivores for a century. We believe public awareness campaigns and conservation strategies are required across these states, such as the Mountain Lion response plans already in place in Nebraska and Missouri.”

This research was conducted in partnership with Southern Illinois University Carbondale (http://www.wildlife.siuc.edu ) and The Cougar Network: http://www.cougarnet.org/

This study is published in The Journal of Wildlife Management.

“” “”

With a bit of intelligent educational practices, we can indeed welcome the return of cougars.

Some groups opposed to bill amendment to expand space for egg-laying hens

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The new US Senate bill amendment that would double the cage space for egg-laying hens on factory farms is getting some negative feedback from both the factory farming side and some animal-welfare groups.

Food Safety News quoted the Humane Farming Association as calling it the “rotten egg bill.” The Humane Farming Association is an anti-factory farming group out of California. Its members fear the legislation might “deprive states of the right to enforce anti-cruelty laws which prohibit battery cages.”

The amendment is the result of an agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States. If passed “enriched colony housing” would be phased in, doubling the space for each hen.

On the other side, the pork, beef and poultry industry are opposed to the new regulations, using the old slippery-slope argument. Some representatives have expressed fear that improving the housing for egg-laying hens could lead to more humane housing for other animals on factory farms.

We can only hope, can’t we. I’d hate to be on the side speaking out against more humane practices from the factory farming industry. So for that side, less suffering is a bad thing?

Food Safety News reports the amendment is backed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Mercy for Animals, Farm Sanctuary and the National Consumers League.

As I’ve stated in other posts, this latest amendment is a good first step. But the hens ultimately need more than double the space they currently live in. And I’m sure a lot of caring consumers like me would be more than willing to pay more for eggs we knew came from hens who lived under humane conditions.

Senate amendment to Farm Bill could improve the lives of egg-laying hens

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The Humane Society of the United States is reporting the US Senate could vote very soon on an amendment to the Farm Bill. This amendment could improve the lives of egg-laying hens on factory farms, with improvements such as doubling the space for each hen and banning inhumane practices such starving them to force a molting process.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., filed the amendment.

The HSUS is also urging people to read an editorial on the USA Today website, under the headline: “Editorial: Egg producers, activists show how to make a deal.” The focus is on the compromise between two opposing sides – the HSUS and the United Egg Producers.

Opponents are crying that the price of eggs will skyrocket, but the USA Today editorial notes the following: “” In the U.S., a study done for the egg producers found that the gradual changes would add about 10 cents to a carton of eggs by 2025, which cost an average $1.83 in April. “”

This is bill is a good step in the right direction, but I still believe the hens need more space. And I personally would pay beyond 10 more cents for each carton of eggs, if it means the hens are leading a better life.

Hen battery cages debated

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Two editorials hit the Pack News Wire this morning, crossing the vast canyon of the animal welfare debate. One rightfully calls for new, more humane practices within the egg-production industry. The other uses scare tactics and wild clams and pricing predictions and financial mumbo-jumbo – and everything but concern for the chickens packed into tiny cages for the entire span of their lives.

First, lets go to Mindy Patterson’s editorial posted on American Thinker website. Her thoughts really don’t match up at all with logical thinking, but I guess warped thinking is some sort of thinking. Patterson is speaking out strongly against US Senate Bill S. 3239, which would require more space for hens – by 2029.

Before I get to Patterson’s rant, I have to say that the obvious injustice in an otherwise forward step to more humane practices on factory farms is the length of time that hens will continue to suffer. Why 17 years? A kid born today could be getting ready for high school graduation in 2029. But still, the supporters of inhumane practices on factory farms are crying that is too much?

In the middle of her scare-tactic tirade, she claims the “regulations may seem reasonable on the surface,” but it’s all a plot by the Humane Society of the US to push for “cleverly crafted laws.” So for that side, even if it’s reasonable, if it’s pushed by the HSUS, it’s wrong?

And she throws this one at the readers: “HSUS’ goal is to provide relief to chickens, not provide food for humans.” And her point is what? – How dare a Humane Society try to end the torture of chickens? It’s like saying – ‘Weight Watchers goal is to help people loose weight, not provide donuts and sodas for overweight people.’ Oh the horrors.

She wraps up the editorial by quoting Henry Kissenger with,  “If you control the food supply, you control the people.”  And calls the move for more humane practices on factory farms – “food tyranny.” I hope the SNL writers are reading this.

Thankfully, we have folks like Tim Vande Bunte on the other side of the debate. In his editorial posted Friday on MLive.com out of Michigan, he calls for the new legislation to be enacted, to provide “enriched colony housing which will provide hens with nearly double the amount of space.” And he notes the new rules would provide “perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas that allow the hens to express natural behaviors.”
He cites a report that notes better housing for hens reduces the mortality rates and increases production. And get this, Vande Bunte represents Konos Inc., a family-owned egg producer since 1946.
He notes the new standards are supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Consumer Federation of America and the United Egg Producers.
Would Patterson accuse the United Egg Producers of “food tyranny?”

Any egg producers who use battery cages and are now fighting against new, humane regulations got themselves into this mess. If it is going to cost them money to modify their facilities, they should consider that they should have never gone to battery cages in the first place.


Topics: Factory farming, seal slaughter, kangaroo slaughter – and greed

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What led to current state of factory farming? – Greed. What prompts the annual seal slaughter in Canada and the similar kangaroo slaughter in Australia? – Greed – And then there is the unfortunate market for the products from these mass slaughters.

A new Whole Foods just opened in my hometown. My wife and I roamed through the store over the weekend and I found a section with meat products from animals raised as free-roaming. This – for the most part – is the way it used to be, before factory farming took over the industry.

For the sake of massive profit – pigs, cows, turkeys and chickens, etc are crammed into tiny cages for the entire span of their entire lives. It’s horrible. Why can’t the animals at least be free to roam before their deaths? Why can’t they live free of cruelty at least until the time of their deaths?

The response to these questions from the supporters of factory farms always turns to the cost of production and the increased price on the shelves. It’s always about money. They can’t help it. It’s money and profit and pricing and sales. All things are excusable because finances always come first in the era of factory farming.

Employees need better working conditions? Employees need a raise? – Can’t be done. After all, the CEO needs another multimillion-dollar bonus. The record profit margin must be maintained. The vice-president in charge of what-ever is only making $1.2 million; hardly enough to maintain homes in California and Florida. And have you checked how much it takes to fill the gas tank on a yacht lately?

The employees don’t need a raise. The price of house-brand macaroni and cheese is still pretty cheap in the grocery store. They can eat that every day. After all – they’re only workers. If they want more, they can get a fourth job. What are they doing in the overnight hours anyway – sleeping? That’s pretty lazy.

And for the animals; if they weren’t crammed into crates 24/7, they’d be wandering around outside doing nothing. They can’t read or watch TV and they aren’t allowed in the mall, so what kind of life could they lead?

This is the philosophy of the universally greedy.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill last week that could improve the housing for hens on factory farms – in this case, in mass-production egg farms. The bill is endorsed by the United Egg Producers  and the Humane Society of the United States. It doubles the size of the cages most hens are crammed into today – for at least 124 square inches for each hen.

An editorial this week on the Chicago Tribune website noted the following – “” Major chains like Costco and Wal-Mart already insist on cage-free eggs for their private brands. Food companies General Mills and Kraft are shifting in that direction. Burger King has announced that within five years it will switch to all cage-free eggs. “”

Slowly but surely, progress is being made toward more humane conditions. But there is a long way to go and other facets of the factory farming industry might not be so willing to change their ways.

I referenced the annual seal slaughter and kangaroo slaughter above. Lesli Bisgould, a Canadian animal rights lawyer is making a connection between the two very similar atrocities, on separate continents.

An estimated 90 million kangaroos have been killed in Australia over the last two decades.

Bisgould, reportedly the first lawyer in Canada with a focus in animal rights, has been challenging the Canadian seal hunts and questioning the justifications for the slaughter. I haven’t handed out one these of late, but Bisgould is hereby awarded a Pack of Humane Justice Award.

Topics: Factory farming, lab animals

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A protest was held Sunday near the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. The Philly Dawg blog reports it was part of the National Day of Mourning for Animals in Laboratories.

The writer reports – “” A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report found that employees at Children’s Hospital inaccurately mixed formula for lambs who were languishing likely from lack of nutrition. The lambs had to be euthanized as a result, the report said. “”

The University of Pennsylvania was warned last year by the USDA about the treatment of animals at its lab.

A bill working its way through the US Senate would amend the Egg Products Inspection Act, to modify rules for the housing of hens. It would double the space for hens.

The Dot Earth blog on the New York Times website notes the National Pork Producers Council is saying this bill “would set a dangerous precedent for allowing federal bureaucrats to regulate on-farm production practices.”

The NPPC is of course WRONG. – The dangerous precedent was set – for animals and consumers – when too many factory farms started abusing animals.

Burger King announces move to cage-free eggs and cage-free pork products

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Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to announce a major shift in the direction of animal welfare for Burger King.

The No. 2 fast-food giant will by 2017 phase out the use of eggs and pork products from severely confined hens and pigs.

Pacelle was also quoted by the Associated Press as saying – “So many tens of thousands of animals will now be in better living conditions. Numerically this is significant because Burger King is such a big purchaser of these products.”

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The AP also noted Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork each year.

We’ve still got a long road to travel to end suffering, but this news is a positive step in the right direction. The use of gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for chickens is barbaric and if more companies like Burger King would make this call, maybe the factory farming industry will end these practices for good.