BUSTED! Obvious Cover-ups in the making in the Dairy Cow Industry!

My post yesterday was primarily about the welfare of farming and production chickens and today I get another horrifying article in my Inbox: this one about potential cover-ups in the Dairy Cow industry! An anonymous letter was sent to the Associated Press news organization that included a letter from the United Dairymen of Idaho. This industry group mailed the letter to 500 of their farmer members urging them to turn down any requests for interviews and facility tours. WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU?? Well, it tells me that major cover-ups are in the making. It tells me that the dairy industry doesn’t want the rest of the world to see what’s going on. Exactly what secrets are they keeping from us?

Cow

What many have yet to realize is there has been a new law enacted in the state of Idaho, the “ag-gag” law, which makes it illegal to secretly film animal abuse at agriculture operations. Since that law has been passed earlier this year, the dairy industry is receiving requests from media for interviews and to film on-farm footage. Hey, a LAW was just passed that makes it illegal to film animal abuse! There’s something so wrong with that!! And now, people want to know exactly what goes on at these farms and facilities.

Here’s the article I received from The Dodo (an online community whose effort to better understand and protect animals comes through a site featuring stories and articles about animal welfare, hoping to help shift the way people view animals). The article by Melissa Cronin gives us a look at how this dairy industry group is trying to manipulate its members into shielding their operations from public view and how, now caught, they are back-pedaling, saying that their letter is being misinterpreted. Well, their letter leaves no room for misinterpretation, in my opinion. Be sure to click on the links in the article too. Good information there, including a link to the AP news article in the Idaho Statesman newspaper and the actual letter from the United Dairymen of Idaho. This makes me sick to my stomach!

First They Silenced Activists, Now Big Dairy Is Silencing Farmers By Melissa Cronin (28 August 2014)

In Idaho, where a controversial “ag-gag” bill was signed into law in February, things are only getting more secretive at factory farms. Earlier this week, AP obtained a copy of a confidential letter sent by a dairy industry group in the state to its member farmers. The letter urged farmers to deny interview requests from members of the media, and not to offer press tours on their farms.

The letter (see a copy here), sent by United Dairymen of Idaho chairs Tom Dorsey and Tony Vanderhulst, was received by 500 dairy farmers in the state. It noted an increase in media requests to film on farms after the passing of Idaho’s ag-gag bill, which banned journalists and whistleblowers from filming at factory farms and slaughterhouses. It recommended that farmers defer media requests to the organization instead of dealing with them on their own:

For protection of your farm and the Idaho dairy industry, we recommend that you coordinate any requests for television, print or radio interviews with the Idaho Dairymen’s Association or the Idaho Dairy Products Commission/United Dairymen of Idaho …”

It also provided four sample responses to deny journalists when asked for an interview or farm tour.

After the story broke, the organization was quick to retract the intent of the letter, releasing this statement:

“It’s not the intention of the United Dairymen of Idaho to deny media access to Idaho dairies. In fact our dairy farm families often host dairy tours for media, school students, health professionals and others. We welcome requests for dairy tours for the purpose of educating the public about our industry and, in fact, organizing on-farm tours is one of our primary goals.”

When the state’s ag-gag bill was first being debated, lobbyists insisted that the law was a measure to protect dairy farmers from misrepresentation in the media. They argued that the law was not an “anti-whistleblower” law, because, in fact, journalists were welcome at any time to do stories on the farms’ premises. They invoked an “open door” policy, where dairymen would welcome members of the press.

During a Senate Floor Debate on Feb. 14, Republican Senator James Patrick said:

“They’re proud of their dairies. I’ve been to quite a few dairies and are very proud of them. They show everything, and they really are very open. And most times if you ask to come in and video, you are welcome to do so.”

And at a House Committee hearing on Feb. 26, Representative Julie VanOrden echoed this sentiment, mentioning an exposé at a factory farm that made headlines recently:

“When I asked the representative from this dairy ‘If a valid inquirer were to spontaneously come to this facility with concerns and ask for permission to video record, would he be given permission?’ This representative said, ‘Yes. My employer would not have a problem with that.’ Good ladies and gentlemen, when he answered me there was no hesitation in his voice.”

Despite the claims of transparency and the “open door” policy for the public, the letter recently sent by the dairy farm coalition urges farmers not to allow the public to their farms.

This is problematic for two reasons, said Justin Marceau, a Professor of Law at the University of Denver who has worked extensively on the issue of ag-gag laws. With Idaho’s ag-gag law in place and a lack of media access, the public has no way to get to information about their food production facilities.

“It’s the combination of this policy of ‘no access for media,’ plus the creation of a law that criminalizes any acts of investigative journalism or investigations,” he told The Dodo. “The combination should be a concern to people who care about civil liberties.”

Marceau, who also litigates for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said that the letter marked the second stage in an effort to close off factory farms to the public. First, potential whistleblowers are controlled. Second, farmers are urged not to speak to the press.

“They are staking out a position that would preclude the public access to any of the information about the farms,” he said. “Now, we just have take their word that everything is fine.”

The practice of outlawing whistleblowers isn’t seen in any other commercial industry, he pointed out.

“We wouldn’t criminalize undercover videos in child care centers to reveal child abuse, or in the banking sector to reveal financial misconduct,” Marceau said. “You can’t imagine another industry that would do this; thats what’s so shocking.”

The Dodo has reached out to the United Dairymen of Idaho for comment.

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We have to speak up and spread the word so that the tortures that happen to the animals in the agriculture industry don’t continue to happen. Repost this on your blogs, post it to your Facebook walls, email it to your friends, just help get the word out so more and more people can become aware. We have to step up and speak up for the animals. They can’t do that themselves. We have to be their voice!

Can I count on you to help? What are your thoughts on this issue?

flickr/b3d_

flickr/b3d_

Are Farm Animals Not Considered Animals?

I recently took an Animal Welfare and Behavior course through the prestigious Edinburg University. We all know there is much more to be accomplished in order to improve the lives of farm and production animals. One thing that the Animal Welfare course highlighted was the need for more in-depth scientific studies evaluating the physical and emotional stress and responses that farm and production animals experience with relation to the living conditions. CowThe course revealed how simple changes and adjustments to housing and living conditions can dramatically reduce the physical, mental and emotional stress of production animals, and thereby improve their quality of life. In order to affect these changes though, it is critical that the scientific community get onboard so it can be presented to those in the agriculture business that, indeed, changes will result in more humane conditions for the animals in their charge.

Today I read a great article on the ASPCA blog, titled “Are Farm Animals Not Considered Animals?” by ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker. Give it a read. There are great links within the article too.  And you’ll see how important it is that farm and production animals finally be elevated to the status that they deserve: that of sentient beings who are owed consideration, respect, dignity and quality of life conditions.

Newborn lamb

Are Farm Animals Not Considered Animals? 

Guest blog by ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker

Yesterday, August 24, was the 48th anniversary of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), a groundbreaking law establishing minimum standards of treatment for animals… Well, some animals.

You see, while some animals used for research, as pets, or for exhibition, are considered worthy of minimal legal protection (and to be clear, the AWA protections leave lots of room for improvement), animals used for food, like farm animals, are explicitly left out. Other federal statutes, like the 28 Hour Law and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, cover livestock transportation and slaughter, but both exclude birds, and there are no federal laws at all governing the conditions in which farm animals are raised.

pigThe big question is: why?

Do the over 9 billion animals farmed in the United States each year require less protection? No. Should we allow them to endure extreme cruelty during their lives just because they’re destined for slaughter? Certainly not.

If anything, considering how many farm animals there are and the direct link between farm conditions and food safety, farm animals require more attention, and their conditions more scrutiny. As the products of agricultural corporations, farm animals are among the most exploited and abused animals in the world.

You don’t have to look very hard to find documented cases of cruelty against farm animals or on-going practices that fit the very definition of torture, such as battery cages for egg laying hens and gestation crates for sows. In late June of 2014, Compassion Over Killing released undercover video from a poultry farm in North Carolina that showed sick and injured chickens being dumped alive into pits of carcasses, where they suffocate or expire of hunger, thirst or exposure.

Instead of working to fix these abuses, the factory farming industry uses its influence to keep them secret by trying to pass “ag-gag” laws, which prevent video or photographic documentation of farm activities.

Ironically, this anniversary comes only a week before the start of National Chicken Month, an annual September promotional exercise by the National Chicken Council to promote chicken sales and to celebrate chicken consumption, which in effect also celebrates the cruel ways we treat those very chickens.

white chickenBut imagine, for a moment, a very different “National Chicken Month,” one in which we ensure chickens are not abused, exploited, or tortured. A month in which we highlight farmers who treat chickens more like the animals they are, not like the products they become.

Some states are acting on their own to institute farm animal protections, and we hope that trend spreads throughout the country and on the federal level. But even before that happens, there are things we all can do to help.

We urge concerned consumers to ask their supermarkets and the companies that supply them to think about raising chickens that can stand up and be chickens, not be pumped with unnecessary antibiotics and bred to be so absurdly huge that they fall over in their own waste. And we encourage people to sign our pledge, urging more humane industry practices.

Whether it happens on the federal, state, community, or personal level, action must be taken to safeguard the welfare of all animals, no matter what purpose they serve.

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Keep fighting the good fight! We have to be the voice for the animals. We need to be heard, loud and clear, that ALL animals deserve a dignified life. Ideally, switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet would have the most impact but it’s a bit unrealistic to think that everyone in the population will make the switch. But every little step helps move toward making major strides to improve the life of our farm and production animals. 

What are your thoughts on this issue?

 

Let’s Get This Conversation Started: My article published today in the Good Men Project!

I am thrilled to be a contributing writer to the fabulous online magazine, the Good Men Project. It’s a subject that is close to my heart: the body image issues that come from being fat in America (and around the globe) and how those body image issues affect both women and men. Please give it a read and let me know what you think. I’m beyond excited to get this conversation started!

The Best & Worst of F Words: How Being Called FAT Fucks with Men As Much As It Does Women

 

old masters painting

Venus at a Mirror by Peter Paul Rubens, c1615

Nude Woman in a Red Armchair by Pablo Picasso (1932)

Nude Woman in a Red Armchair by Pablo Picasso (1932)

 

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/best-worst-f-words-jnord/

 

Secret Military Animal-Killing Exposed!

This is disgusting and how this can be going on when there are viable non-animal alternatives is just unbelievable. And what is this doing to the minds of those military soldiers? Are they being traumatized? Are they being conditioned to like killing? What does this do to their compassion?? Here is a link to the post from this breaking story, and the actual copy from their site pasted below. If you are so moved, please help spread the word about this: people need to know what is going on. Showing outrage can affect change in policy, as you will read below. So please, take a minute to help open the eyes of those who aren’t aware of these horrible practices.

PETA exposes cruel use of live animals in trauma training

 

PETA’s expose on cruel military trauma training on animals and plea to take action to end it

 

Taken from PETA’s website:

Recently released photographs showing live pigs as they’re being shot illustrate why we need your support today for the campaign by PETA to end cruel military trauma training on animals. We’ve made tremendous progress already, but your support now is critical to helping us promote modern, superior non-animal methods of training and testing.Pigs and other animals suffering in these exercises need us to stop their miseryPlease donate now and help PETA continue to expose and stop animal abuse and exploitation. The never-before-seen photographs obtained by PETA and released on our website reveal the invasive and deadly trauma training exercises taking place at a secret facility in Denmark. The British military participates in these exercises, informally known in military circles as “Danish bacon.”Photographic evidence shows live pigs hanging upside down in a shooting range, tied by their legs to a wooden frame, their bodies marked with targets. They were about to be shot with rifles and pistols, intentionally leaving them with bloody wounds, broken bones, and severe organ damage. Dead and dying pigs were put on stretchers, and maimed and bleeding pigs who survived would then have invasive surgery performed on them to patch them back together.You may recall that like the drills undertaken by Denmark and the U.K., PETA has previously reported that the U.S. military stabs, shoots, dismembers, burns, and kills nearly 10,000 animals each year and that the Canadian military cuts up and poisons live pigs with toxic chemicals. This continues even though strikingly life-like human-patient simulators that breathe and bleed are available and all these countries have laws and regulations stating that non-animal methods should be used whenever possible. There may be no Geneva Convention to protect these animals, but as the heartbreaking photos reveal, these exercises are torture for the animals condemned to participate in them. Your generous gift today will be put to work immediately to strengthen PETA’s vital efforts to save pigs and other animals who desperately need our help.

As a direct result of horrific undercover video footage released by PETA that showed a Coast Guard medical training course during which participants and instructors whistled and laughed while using tree trimmers to cut the limbs off semiconscious goats, the Coast Guard recently enacted a new policy that reduces its use of live animals in these cruel and deadly medical training exercises by more than 50 percent. But we have to push forward to replace this crude training completely with modern and superior medical simulation methods. PETA convinced the Army to make a similar move last year and has successfully urged bases across the U.S. to end animal use in training drills. 

Not only are training exercises on animals cruel, they’re also leaving soldiers less prepared for the challenges that they’ll face on a modern battlefield. Multiple military and civilian studies have shown that medical-care providers who learn trauma treatment using simulators that accurately mimic human anatomy and physiology are better prepared to treat injured patients than those who are trained in deadly animal laboratories. A study coauthored by PETA and military medical experts found that more than 80 percent of all NATO nations no longer use any animals to train military personnel. In 2013, after discussions with PETA, Poland became the 23rd of 28 NATO nations to replace animal use for military training with cutting-edge simulation.

PETA and our affiliates are at the forefront of global efforts to stop cruel training exercises such as those being conducted in Denmark, the U.S., and elsewhere. As a result of international pressure from PETA and its affiliates, the few NATO nations still using animals for this training—the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Denmark, and Norway—have recently acknowledged that their military animal laboratories are under “significant scrutiny” and may have to be “completely eliminated.” They’ve launched an effort through NATO to identify which simulation tools they can use to make the switch.

Yet despite numerous civilian and military studies documenting how modern human-patient simulators better prepare soldiers to perform lifesaving procedures, the U.S. military continues to shoot, stab, and mutilate pigs and goats in cruel training exercises and the Canadian military is cutting up and poisoning pigs. We need your help to halt these terrible training drills. 

Will you support PETA’s efforts to expose and stop the cruelty inflicted on pigs and other animals by donating online right now?

Thank you for all that you do for animals.

Kind regards,

Ingrid E. Newkirk
President

P.S. Despite growing global acceptance of more effective, humane non-animal trauma training methods, the U.S., Canadian, and other militaries continue to send soldiers to participate in cruel exercises such as those that PETA recently helped expose. Please stand up for pigs and all animals who need our help today with your gift right now.

 

 

F is for …

FThe Best and the Worst of F Words

One of my favorite words begin with F. I’m sure you know which one I’m talking about. That crude four-letter word, to me, is an important communication tool. It’s a word I use when I want to place great emphasis on something that I’m saying. It’s also very effective when used in the passionate throes of hot steamy sex.

On the other hand, one of the ugliest F words is FAT. I hate that word! In our thin-obsessed society, the word has grown to be one that can throw a woman (or a man) into a downward spiral of crash dieting, eating disorders, body dysmorphia and even into a full-blown state of depression. It’s a bad word, fat.

Another F word that I have come to hate is FACE. Let me just state this on behalf of all the beautiful fat women in the world: The worst compliment you can give us is to say, “You have such a pretty face.” If I hear that one more time I’m going to scream and not stop screaming. God, it makes me crazy!

Why is this compliment so bothersome and so very uncool? Because if you are complimenting a thin woman, you say, “You’re so pretty” or “You’re beautiful.” But when you compliment a plus-size woman, you say “You have such a pretty face,” “You have a beautiful face.”

Do you know what that tells us? It tells us that although our face is pretty, the rest of us is garbage, and that everything below our necks is worthless. In other words, you’re telling us that 95 percent of our physical being is horrid. That’s exactly what it says to us. To use another F word, it’s so fucking insulting!

I do believe that most people who use that compliment are coming from a place of love and they don’t even realize the implications their phraseology has on the one being complimented. But, please, from now on, consider your words before you tell a fat woman that she’s beautiful. Don’t pinpoint her face. Just say, “You’re beautiful.” Period. Because that’s what we are.

With that being said, I’m going to do something very foreign and unfamiliar to me. After years of growing up fat in America and decades of self-image and body image issues, I’m going to be brave here and finally, for the first time in my life, I’m going to claim my beauty. And I’m only doing this for me:

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