Animal Welfare Approved

Archive for November, 2009

L6 Cattle Ranches – Corona, NM

By Animal Welfare Approved | November 30, 2009

Bill and Sharie Leibold raise Certified Grassfed by AWA beef cattle at 4,000-acre L6 Cattle Ranches in Corona, New Mexico. L6 Cattle Ranches was formed in 2006 so Bill could fulfill his life-long dream of being a cattle rancher and the family could create a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle. The ranch is made up of native grasslands, which the ranch’s Angus-Jersey cross cattle graze freely.

DOJ, USDA Investigate Big Ag for Antitrust Violations: It’s About Time

By Animal Welfare Approved |

In a major move for the Obama administration, the US Department of Justice (Antitrust Division) and the US Department of Agriculture have opened an investigation into whether any illegal monopolies exist among the dominant agricultural companies. The focus is primarily on three sectors: seed companies, beef packing and dairy.

With a history of exemption from antitrust regulation the industry as a whole has become extremely concentrated. For instance, the the top four beefpacking companies currently control 83.5% of the market. As part of this investigation, a series of public workshops will be held across the country. Read on for dates and locations, as well as information about submitting comments online or by mail.

Tell Us Why You Are Thankful for Family Farmers

By Animal Welfare Approved | November 23, 2009

We at Animal Welfare Approved are privileged to work with some of the most amazing farmers in the world. They are leading the transition back to pasture-based farming, and pioneering a new agriculture that seeks to heal our planet while providing healthy, nutritious food to all.

This year, as you prepare for a holiday that celebrates the bountiful harvest farmers have provided, we ask you to take a moment to thank a family farmer for the good food that nourishes you. Join us in celebrating National Farm-City Week by using the comments section of this blog to tell us about the farms that will fill your Thanksgiving table this holiday season and throughout the year, and why they matter to you.

Take a moment to write a few words of thanks to your neighbor farmers, farmers from your farmer’s market, your CSA provider, and any family farmer you appreciate.

Cooperative Inspection Ruling: Comment Period Extended

By Emily | November 19, 2009

In a recent post we discussed the ruling currently under construction at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) which would allow certain state-inspected slaughter plants to perform federal inspections on meat and poultry. The comment period has been extended, and we invite anyone who has an interest in this to add your two cents to the discussion (read full post for instructions). This ruling could have tremendous implications for livestock farmers using independent, state-inspected plants who are now limited to selling product within state lines, and could dramatically expand their marketing capabilities. Cooperative inspection has the potential not only to benefit independent farmers and slaughter plants, but could have positive animal welfare implications through reduced transport time.

Beware of Bad Science

By Andrew Gunther | November 16, 2009

On November 5, a “news article” appeared word-for-word across countless livestock-related websites – including Drovers, Dairy Herd, Cattle Network, AgWired, DairyLine, Beef Magazine, and so on. No journalist is cited as the author on any of the sites where it is published, an indication that the piece was not a ”news article” at all but a press release issued by an unidentified source.

Entitled “Environmentally Friendly Food Myths Debunked,” the news article provided coverage of a presentation given by Dr. Jude Capper at the 71st Cornell Nutrition Conference in October 2009. Her presentation reported findings from a recent paper co-authored with R.A. Cady and D.E. Bauman, entitled, “Demystifying the Environmental Sustainability of Food Production.”

Dr. Mohan Raj, International Farm Animal Welfare Expert, to Lead AWA Scientific and Technical Advisory Board

By Animal Welfare Approved | November 11, 2009

Dr. Mohan Raj, a world-renowned expert in humane slaughter and farm animal welfare, has been tapped to lead Animal Welfare Approved (AWA)’s newly formed Scientific and Technical Advisory Board, AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther announced today.

Raj is currently the Reader in farm animal welfare at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He is one of the foremost authorities in the field of humane stunning and slaughter and the developer of a novel and humane slaughter system for poultry and pigs using inert gases. Raj has published over 40 original scientific papers and authored chapters in textbooks and reference books.

The Animal Welfare Approved program has experienced tremendous growth over the past year, Gunther notes. The creation of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Board is the next step in aiding the program in retaining its reputation as being driven by practical science while still grounding the standards in the everyday reality of farm life. “Dr. Raj will be instrumental in ensuring AWA standards respect and reflect the needs of the animals and farmers while not compromising good care,” Gunther says. “We are honored and fortunate to have Dr. Raj at the helm of our new Board. His experience and knowledge is second to none in the field.”

Savvy shoppers Take Note: Place Your Bets on Grassfed Beef. You’ll Come Away a Winner.

By Animal Welfare Approved | November 9, 2009

Not that we like to gloat, but….

Grassfed beef from two Animal Welfare Approved farmers has gone head-to-head with conventional beef in separate taste tests. The results are in and, well, to be modest, SMACKDOWN!

This past summer, AWA supporter Chef Bill Telepan issued a challenge to Mark and Dr. Patricia Whisnant of American Grass Fed Beef—bring him some grassfed beef that he deemed worthy of using in his famous burger and he would make the switch from the beef his customers had come to love. And so, on a muggy New York City afternoon, a small crowd gathered to see the gloves come off as 100% grassfed took on heavyweight conventional grain-fed. In a stunning upset, Chef Bill declared the upstart 100% grassfed beef the winner, bestowing the crown of onion rings and French fries that top the famous Telepan burger on the Whisnant’s American Grass Fed Beef.

A Simple Matter of Right and Wrong Goes Very, Very Wrong at a Vermont Slaughterhouse

By Andrew Gunther | November 5, 2009

Westland/Hallmark, of the famous “downer cow” footage, has nothing on this one.

I got an email a few days ago with a link to footage taken at a Vermont slaughter plant. I often receive videos depicting horrific animal treatment, but this one stood out. The footage I was sent showed veal calves—only days old—unable to walk or stand on their own, repeatedly kicked, slapped and shocked.

Once again, we have sickening proof that there are people who just don’t get it. In a civilized society we have to do things right. The USDA, despite the industry’s best efforts, does have rules that cover some parts of a slaughter plant operation. Slaughter plants that operate like this can’t hide anymore. People are no longer satisfied with being spoon-fed lies about production practices that are “in our best interests”; the consumer is educated, interested and is paying attention.

Poultry Litter as Cattle Feed? Believe it.

By Andrew Gunther | November 3, 2009

A recent newspaper article brought home once again the extraordinary reality of industrialized food production – and lengths that some in the US food and farming industry will go to in the pursuit of “efficiency.”

This time, it was an article in the LA Times about the currently legal practice of feeding US cattle so-called “poultry litter.” An unlikely sounding cattle feed, poultry litter is actually made up of industrial chicken feces, spilled chicken feed, feathers and other poultry waste collected from the floors of factory farms across the US. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – which is responsible for protecting public health and is at the center of this current situation for continuing to permit poultry litter as a feedstuff – estimates that US farmers currently feed between one and two million tons of poultry litter to their cattle each year.