vegansaurus!

02/28/2013

Update: HSUS is totally going to win that National Pork Producers Council lawsuit  »

imageRemember in September, when we talked about that lawsuit that HSUS co-filed with a pig farmer against the National Pork Producers Council? It focused on a “creative” use of fees paid by pig farmers to ostensibly pay for the licensing rights to “The Other White Meat,” but which actually disappeared in a back-room deal. HSUS alleged that “NPPC charged pork producers twice: once to make The Other White Meat successful, and again to pay for the value of that success.”

Park Wilde of U.S. Food Policy updated us on the lawsuit this week, and it is not looking good for those sneaky NPPC jerks. Per some newly unredacted documents pertaining to the sale of the slogan—which, remember, has been funded by mandatory fees paid by pig farmers through the pork checkoff program—there was never any other buyer for “The Other White Meat” but the NPCC, and moreover, they knew that no one else would ever want it. It wasn’t worth the $36 million that with interest over 20 years amounts to $60 million paid by the pig farmers (who, again, didn’t agree to this deal, didn’t want this deal, didn’t have any involvement in this deal besides funding it), and now everyone knows it.

It appears that pork checkoff program monies have been used for almost entirely shady purposes. What got HSUS interested in them was their suspected illegal use for lobbying against animal welfare initiatives that HSUS has been pushing for years. This revelation about “The Other White Meat” is only one gotcha, but it’s a big, obvious one. The dirtiest corporate secrets are always in the accounting, right? Tsk tsk, NPPC.

Take a look at the unredacted document at U.S. Food Policy. I can’t wait to see how those 100 percent anti-animal-welfare jerks at NPPC are going to respond. I hope it’s more whining and accusations of bullying!

[Photo by Giang Hồ Thị Hoàng via Flickr]

01/30/2013

Harvest Home volunteer orientation on Saturday! Get a tour, help some animals!  »

imageKaren the chicken wants you to feed her greens! Harvest Home is looking for new volunteers. It’s a six-month commitment to one four-to-six-hour day per month of work that includes “barn cleaning and animal health tasks,” which isn’t much! You could hang out with all the animals and help keep them happy in their spacious Stockton digs.

Harvest Home is holding a volunteer orientation and sanctuary tour on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. You must RSVP to info@harvesthomesanctuary.org to sign up for the event (also for more information, and to get directions).

This is your chance to support Harvest Home’s excellent work with your mighty vegan (or not!) body instead of your sad, malnourished pocketbook. Get some like-minded friends and make a day of it. The animals need all of us!

[Photo by HSUS via Flickr]

09/26/2012

Pork lawsuit extravaganza! HSUS and a pig farmer sue pork lobbyists and the government!  »


Not pictured: interested parties in layer-hen living conditions legislation

Big Pork is having a hell of a week.

On Monday, the Humane Society, along with pig farmer (“pork producer”) Harvey Dillenburg, filed a lawsuit against the NPCC because “the National Pork Board ‘struck an unlawful backroom deal’ with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in purchasing the marketing message “Pork: The Other White Meat” from NPPC” in 2001.

Essentially, a case of massive, deliberate money mismanagement and lack of government oversight. All pig farmers have to give some of their profits to the NPPC, which has been, this lawsuit alleges, illegally taking money from the NPB and double-charging its funders/creators of the product it’s selling. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is named as a co-defendant because the government is supposed to monitor how the NPB spends its money.

Why is HSUS involved? According to a press release, because of

… glaring legal violations, conflicts of interest, and an exorbitantly over-inflated $60 million price tag associated with the deal. Much of the extraordinarily inflated value of the slogan resulted from 20 years of promotional campaigns funded entirely with pork producers’ own checkoff funds: roughly half a billion dollars. In essence, NPPC charged pork producers twice: once to make The Other White Meat successful, and again to pay for the value of that success.

Park Wilde of U.S. Food Policy blog explains further: HSUS is trying to protect its recent agreement with egg producers over “ethically acceptable” cage sizes for layer hens.

Although the leading trade association for egg producers is now working with HSUS to get this balanced policy approved by Congress, the agreement faces implacable opposition from the NPPC. The egg agreement causes no harm to pork producers, but the NPPC is worried that the precedent of a successful egg agreement will generate unrealistic hopes for similar good-faith negotiations about gestation crates for pork.  It is not surprising that HSUS has been looking into how the federal government’s pork board—which is not supposed to support lobbying—helps fund the NPPC’s efforts to spoil the egg agreement.

See why you, animal-rights enthusiast, should care about this? The NPPC is a bunch of money-grubbing, anti-agriculture-reform jerks who are trying to scuttle HSUS’s effort to make life less shitty for farm animals, outside of their own species jurisdiction. The NPPC is fighting egg production reforms because it sees similar reforms in its future, and it fears them. HSUS alleges that NPPC can’t legally use its funds to fight this battle, pig farmers agree that this is a terrible use of their money, and so we have this lawsuit.

Wilde calls the suit “well written, with astonishing details,” so maybe you want to take a look [pdf]. We’re not surprised that lobbying entities are misusing funds, but it’s especially gross when they misuse funds to fight animal welfare reform.

Adorably, NPPC CEO Neil Dierks responded to the lawsuit by calling HSUS a bully. It’s cute when the people in power feel threatened and immediately appropriate the language of the oppressed. Meat industry supporters are such crybabies.

[Photo by Valerie via Flickr]

(Source: usfoodpolicy.blogspot.com)

09/25/2012

Corn is Expensive, So Cows Eat Candy  »

You know what sucks about factory farming?* Those poor cows never get dessert. No trick-or-treating, no birthday parties, no office candy dishes. Just corn corn corn, soy soy soy, corn corn corn all year long. 

Thankfully for the rights of cows everywhere, the Weather Channel reports** that this summer’s drought has shot corn prices sky high, so farmers are actually finding it cheaper to feed their cows “discarded food products” like ice cream sprinkles, gummy worms, and marshmallows. Finally, some justice! Plus, imagine all the jobs this will create for future cow dentists. 

See, the reason this makes so much sense is that it’s obviously a good use of resources to process the food that cows eat as much as possible, so that when we slaughter them and eat their flesh, each bite will have the carbon footprint of driving a Hummer for six years or so. There’s definitely no irony in the fact that the methane from the poor cows contributes to the global warming that’s likely causing this and future droughts. Nothing weird about giving grass-eaters pure sugar with gelatin in it. GELATIN.

Guys, I hope you find this as uplifting as I did. Just doing my part to brighten your day. K, I’m off to go slam my hand in the car door a few times, because I just love that tingle. 

*Besides EVERYTHING.

**They do news?!

Cow photo by law_kevin/Flickr.com

08/08/2012

Guest contest: Donate to win a beautiful portrait of a farm sanctuary animal!  »

Sharon Lee Hart is the author of the photography collection Sanctuary: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals, and a participant in this year’s Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals, for which she’s asking for your help fundraising. If you help, you could win a 16-by-16-inch photograph of your choice from Sharon’s book. Take a look—they’re beautiful!

Sharon says it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Donate $10 or more to support me in the Walk for Farm Animals; 100 percent of the funds raised go to Farm Sanctuary. Make sure you include your email address so I can contact you if you win.
  2. Wait: I will chose one winner at random from those that donate between today and Sept. 30. I will contact the winner no later than Oct. 5 and ask them to select the photograph they would like from my website.
  3. I will print your chosen photograph with the finest archival materials, expertly package it up, and ship it off to you in a timely manner.

Want to know more about the book? Sharon can tell you all about it!

This first monograph by Lexington–based photographer Sharon Lee Hart is a book of dignified black-and-white portraits of rescued farm animals, accompanied by handwritten stories by sanctuary workers. A long term vegetarian turned vegan, Hart considers farm animals “some of the most abused, overlooked animals on the planet.”

For this project, she traveled to sanctuaries in Virginia, Florida, Maryland, Michigan and New York State to document “the lucky few who are free to live out their lives in peace.” Not surprisingly, after spending time with the animals she discovered that each had its unique personality. “Some are quirky or funny, while others sensitive, shy, playful, intelligent, mischievous, or inquisitive. And all seemed to have complex emotional lives.”

These characteristics come through in Hart’s poignant photographs. Essays are by Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns; Kathy Stevens, founder of the Catskill Animal Sanctuary; and Gene Baur, founder of Farm Sanctuary.

So donate some money and try to win a photo! Megan Rascal loves this photo of Dee Dee the donkey, of Star Gazing Farm; I’m partial to this portrait of SASHA Farm's Rainy. I love a shaggy horse!
 

Check out all the photos in Sharon’s book! Best of luck to Sharon and all the participants in the Walk for Farm Animals, and everyone who donates to win a portrait.

07/19/2012

How the ag industry’s hate brings positive attention to HSUS, and more!  »


It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Yay!

NPR had a recent important look at the vigorous efforts of the pork and beef lobbies to kill federal hen protection legislation. Amusingly, in the piece, the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association calls HSUS “the devil.”

Speaking of what the agribusiness groups think, the always-insightful Counting Animals blog did a fascinating write-up and graphical illustration on the increasing attention the ag industry trade press is giving to our movement.

My colleague Matt Prescott’s got some sage advice on the CNN site about how folks can help reduce cruelty to farm animals. Check him out.

Expect a big fight in the Congress over Rep. Steve King's (seriously, click through) crazy amendment that’s been added to the House ag committee version of the farm bill that would undo numerous animal protection laws.

And last but certainly far from least, since last week’s installment, even more major pork buyers have come out saying they’ll rid their supply chains of gestation crates: Sodexo, Kmart, and Heinz. And speaking of the pork industry, as if its leadership couldn’t sink to a new low, it’s now lobbying to keep pigs at greater risk of perishing in factory farm fires. Seriously.

P.S. Video of the week: Speaking of the devil, here’s some death metal for Maru the cat while he enjoys his boxes.

03/28/2012

Dan Barber’s “return to the land” argument is weak and ridiculous, but not all wrong  »


Dan Barber courted some veg-rage back in December 2010 when he asserted that “You have blood on your hands when you eat vegetarian,” and last week Slate interviewed him about it. It’s on video, above, and watching it made me feel the same head-against-the-wall frustration that I do when Michael Pollan opens his yap to opine about how meat-abstainers are wrong, and eating animals is noble. Here are my responses to three of his particularly obnoxious points.

1. He points to the “iconic New England pasture that was built by the dairy industry” as a reason for keeping animals for food. What did the landscape look like before the dairy industry brought their milk-and-death business to the area, Dan? How did it look before the Industrial Revolution? How did it look before the Dutch and English and Spanish came and murdered all the native people? How did it look during Pangea?

2. He condemns a vegetable-based diet as much heavier in “food miles” than his local produce/animal product diet. Man, let’s address food deserts before you insist the nation go full locavore. Of course we should strive to eat more sustainably grown food! But when the choice is between dead cow from a feedlot and mixed vegetables from factory farms, choose the vegetables. They aren’t cutting down the rainforest to grow soybeans for my tofu, they’re doing it to feed the cows that the majority of the U.S. eats. Factory farms are bad for us ecologically, socially, ethically, morally—why go after the vegetarians when there is a much bigger bad to attack? I can’t tell if he’s advocating we all go full backyard chicken, or turn factory farms into small-scale, ecologically friendly farm collectives, or what.

3. The New England landscape “doesn’t want” you to grow vegetables, so that means it does want you to grow animals for killing? And oh no, Michael Pollan is worried about the extinction of farm animals? There is a major difference between “keeping some animals on your farm as farming tools” (eating grass, fertilizing with their waste, pest control) and “keeping animals en masse for slaughter.” You acknowledge that what you want is to “use the resources of animals on a farm in an intelligent way,” which is something I agree with—until you jump from keeping animals to eating them. Why? Isn’t barbarism like killing living creatures for our gustatory pleasure a thing of the past?

You know what? I do agree that vegetarians have blood on their hands. All the male chicks that are killed because they can’t produce eggs? All the male calves born to the perma-pregnant dairy cows, that are sent to veal farms? The treatment of the layer hens and dairy cows themelves? So much blood. That’s one of the reasons I observe a vegan diet: To keep the blood-as-byproduct off my hands.

[Please visit Adam Merberg’s Say what, Michael Pollan? blog for much more extensively documented reasons why this argument is nonsense.]

01/03/2011

Happy New Year, your meat is full of fucking poisons!  »

Wired gave us all a smashing Christmas present to close 2010: the news that the 28.8 million pounds of antibiotics “used in agriculture,” i.e., fed to eating-animals, constitute fully 79.8 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. That’s a 10 percent increase from 2000! Here, look at this hideous chart:

According to Wired reporter Maryn McKenna, nearly all of the antibiotics given to animals are also prescribed to people, meaning that “[w]hen organisms become resistant on the farm to drugs used on livestock, they are becoming resistant to the exact same drugs used in humans.”

Have you started your probiotic supplements yet, omnivorous friends? Oh, and careful about where you buy your “humane,” “organic” dead animals from, too, as First Class Foods recalled 34,373 pounds of ground beef on Thursday because of a delicious E. coli O157:H7 contamination. E. coli O157:H7?

E. coli O157:H7 is found on cattle farms and can live in the intestines of healthy cattle. The toxin requires highly specific receptors on the cells’ surface in order to attach and enter the cell; species such as cattle, swine, and deer which do not carry these receptors may harbor toxigenic bacteria without any ill effect, shedding them in their feces, from which they may be spread to humans.

[…]

There have been several unsuccessful efforts to control the spread of this illness by food advocates by promotion of the so-called “Kevin’s Law”. This law would give the FDA power to shutdown food processing plants that fail multiple inspections. This law has been vigorously opposed by the food processing industry.[19]

DELICIOUS.

11/04/2010

Here we go again: PETA expands its definition of bestiality!  »

Thanks, PETA, for writing this garbage. And thanks, HuffPo, for publishing it. You didn’t pay ol’ V.P. for Policy Bruce Friedrich to publish this, did you? Please say no. Because if you did pay for it, the written word has no monetary value anymore and I am giving up and starting my career as a driver for a public transit agency. Any public transit agency.

Look, Peta, beginning your “All of this is bestiality” attack by using the Webster’s definition marks your position as weak. You know who starts their theses with the definition of a keyword? Grade-schoolers. Already you’ve lost some respect from your readers capable of making mature arguments—i.e., ages 12 and up.

Everyone with a soul would agree that an individual who “repeatedly jam[s] his finger into a turkey’s vagina” is a person whose relationships with animals and sexuality are deeply damaged, and should not work anywhere near animals. However, not everyone with a soul would agree that an individual who “masturbate[s pigs] to collect their semen” in order to artificially inseminate a sow with it has deeply damaged relationships with sexuality and animals. Ohhhh, you say, why is it illegal when someone touches a pig’s penis for sexytimes but legal when someone does it for future pig creation? That “glaring contradiction…just doesn’t add up”!

Duh, Peta. Duh, there’s a difference. It’s called “intent.” It’s called “sexual gratification of the abuser.” It’s called “A bestialist has sexual feelings toward the animal, or wants to act out sexual fantasies with the animal.” Farmers whose turkeys are too grotesquely gigantic to mate naturally and require human intervention generally do not look for or obtain sexual gratification from this work.

If you want people to take you seriously, Peta, try writing seriously instead of sensationally. It is fucking disgusting, artificially inseminating “livestock,” but calling it bestiality, really? Physical abuse of animals for the sexual gratification of the abuser is different than physical abuse of animals to aid in the reproductive process. In a Venn Diagram, there’d be overlap, but they are separate issues, and conflating them doesn’t help make your point. Maybe farmers might consider artificial insemination animal abuse, maybe possibly, but no way will they agree that they engage in bestiality.

Saying something like that lowers you to the level of the terrible assholes who brandish those gruesome signs in front of “family planning” clinics, all “YOU ARE MURDERING YOUR CHILD LOOK UPON THE HORROR OF AN ABORTION BABY-KILLER.” When you immediately take an extreme position, you lose the ear of any of the middle-grounders who might have listened to you, had you said something less insane. The President isn’t a socialist, and all farmers aren’t animal-fuckers.

Of course these practices are horrifying: the physical abuse farm animals are forced to endure is a major reason why we don’t eat animals. I am not defending it. Thanks for putting me in this position, Peta; I love being on the side of Big Ag and meat-eating! But for sweet sensibility’s sake, omnivores are not “participating” in “having sex with animals.” They are definitely supporting a fucked up, inhuman system! Just not a system that condones bestiality.

Now, please: Shut up, Peta.

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