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UPDATE: Permanent Downer Ban – Loophole Closed!
A LONG TIME COMING: The first letter-writing campaign Kinship Circle issued
a decade ago asked legislators to pass the Downed Animal Protection Act —
to ban slaughter of cows, pigs, sheep and all “livestock” too sick and
crippled to stand upright. A federal law STILL does not exist.
In 2003 the USDA authorized a downer ban in response to a Washington state
dairy cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). But by 2007, Big Meat
convinced Bush regulators to dilute USDA’s administrative rule. Collapsed
cows with orthopedic (as opposed to central nervous system) injuries like
broken legs or ripped tendons were kept alive to make hamburgers.
Many mad cows and beef recalls later, USDA’s ban remained wishy-washy. In
2007/2008, HSUS went undercover at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Co. in
Chino, Calif. For the first time, mainstream eaters saw electric prods shock
the heads, necks, spines and rectums of animals crumpled on concrete. They
saw eyes blink as organs failed. They saw crushed bones and torn ligaments
dragged over pavement. They heard cows scream (who knew?) as forklifts
tossed their giant bodies like rag dolls. They even saw concentrated water
jets fired into the cows’ noses and throats. http://tinyurl.com/yul2lw
USDA recalled 143,383,823 pounds of Hallmark-tainted beef. Legislators cried
“protect our food…ban downers!” Yet at a 2/28/08 hearing to assess
inspection blunders, then Secretary of Agriculture Edward Schafer asked a
Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to strike down a ban on
slaughter of downer cows. Apparently it was still “okay” for diseased cows
to occasionally enter the food supply.
…Which brings us to the present: Without much fanfare, the Obama admin
just permanently banned the slaughter of cows who can’t move on their own.
WHY WE CARE: Yes, sick cows make sick food — from mad cow disease to E.
coli or Salmonella. But Kinship Circle already advocates a plant-based diet.
We care because no dying animal should be rammed upright with tractors and
forklifts…hauled, shocked and pounded…so meat makers can eke about $30
out of her tortured body.
Obama’s signature solidifies the ban and closes the loophole that left
certain downers unprotected. Now, maybe, we can get Congress to pass that
Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act.
**With the close of the 110th Congress (2007-2008), the 111th Session
(2009-2010) will likely initiate some version of this longstanding bill to
safeguard downed animals. When it does, Kinship Circle will be close behind
with action campaigns. ALSO, check here:
A half million downers stagger toward kill floors each year, JAVMA predicts.
Downer cows are primarily the end result of industrialized dairy operations.
By the time they reach stockyards, they cannot stand or walk. Once down,
they’re kicked, rammed, shocked, dragged, water-hosed and rolled. Anything
to prop them up for inspection. Anything to make a few bucks. Cheap meat, it
seems, comes with a hefty price tag: Utter inhumanity.
HSUS undercover video, Hallmark Meatpacking Company: http://tinyurl.com/yul2lw
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