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I'm Mad. Downer Ban? USDA Says Forget It

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Dear Representative and Senators:

As an American citizen, I am embarrassed Secretary of Agriculture Edward W. Schafer represents my country. One imagines the recent Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. undercover video that led to a recall of 143,383,823 pounds of beef would initiate a permanent no-downer law.

One hopes a humiliated USDA would rally behind an enforceable ban on the transport and slaughter of ALL downer animals — after one animal guy with a video camera exposed their lax food-safety protocol.

But they'd be wrong. At a 2/28/08 hearing to assess food inspection blunders, Secretary of Agriculture Edward W. Schafer asked the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to strike down a ban on slaughter of downer cows.

He even claimed it's okay for downer cattle to occasionally enter the food supply. Perhaps, but it's certainly a gamble. And such sentiment fails to address the sheer torture these animals endure as they're kicked, rammed, shocked, dragged, water-hosed and rolled. Apparently cheap meat comes with a hefty price tag: Utter inhumanity.

As your constituent, I implore you to stand up for what is right. Please protect animals and people with your strong support for the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act (H.R. 661/ S. 394), which bans slaughter of downer cows, pigs, sheep and all "livestock."

The Hallmark Meat travesty is not about one bad slaughterplant. It's about a bad system. Please help fix it by:
  • Co-sponsoring the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act (HR 661/ S 394).
  • Requiring humane euthanasia for all downer animals. A current loophole lets immobilized animals suffer until they undergo USDA inspection.
  • Forbidding use of downed animals for "pet" and "livestock" foods.
  • Co-sponsoring the Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act (HR 1726) to install basic animal protections at producers selling food to federal programs.
  • Requiring training to prevent animals from becoming downers in the first place.
This issue is of great concern to me. Please inform me of your stance on downer legislation. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,
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UPDATE: 3/14/09, Obama Bans Downer Cows, Closes Longtime Loophole
SOURCE: 3/14/09 — Obama bans ‘downer' cows from food supply

Without much fanfare, the Obama administration permanently banned the slaughter of cows who can't move on their own. Obama's signature solidifies USDA's ban and closes the loophole that left certain downers unprotected. However, this is an enforcement of USDA's wishy-washy BAN. This is still NOT A LAW.

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. 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 about passage of a no-downer law because no dying animal should be rammed upright with tractors and forklifts...hauled, shocked and meat makers can eke about $30 out of her tortured body.

Big Meat convinced Bush regulators to dilute USDA's administrative rule — so collapsed cows with orthopedic (as opposed to central nervous system) injuries like broken legs or ripped tendons were kept alive to make hamburgers. Obama's ban on ALL downed cows is progress. Kinship CIrcle will continue to lobby Congress to pass a Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act that protects all disabled animals (not just cows); calls for merciful euthanasia; and forbids use of tractors, forklifts, chains, electric prods, hoses and other violent means to move dying animals.

•  These Are Downed Animals (FACT SHEET)
•  DA offers cruelty deal / Lawyer: Meat worker did his job
•  VIDEO: Charged with Cruelty / Slaughterhouse Employees Charged
•  VIDEO: HSUS Investigates Slaughterhouse/ Cruel and Unhealthy Practices Uncovered
•  VIDEO: Cheap Meat - Working in a Slaughterhouse

PHOTOS: Farm Sanctuary
     From Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle:

I try to keep my personal opinions out of letter-writing campaigns. So, I apologize for the intrusion. But I am livid.

I see videos, photos and cruelty reports daily, with the silent motto: I can cry later. The HSUS videos from Hallmark Meat Packing Co. [LINK:] are about the worse I've seen. Cows with huge, bewildered eyes as they're rolled, clubbed, thrown down chutes, dragged on caved-in legs...

The first letter campaign Kinship Circle ever posted was to Congress, asking for humane euthanasia of downer animals. That was nearly a decade ago...and NO DOWNER LAW EXISTS.

So, you'd think the recall of 143,383,823 pounds of beef would finally prompt a downer law. Or that the government would be so embarrassed it took some animal guy with a video camera to bust their inept inspections, they'd...well...pass the downer law.

But you'd be wrong. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, perhaps the most moronic individual currently promoting beef for the Bush admin, struck down calls from Democratic senators for a ban on the slaughter of downer cows (at Congressional hearings, 2/28/08).

Schafer feels downers can enter the food supply safely: "The rules say if one goes down, you call the veterinarian to make a judgment... Today I'm convinced the rules in place are such where we are protecting the food supply." In the meantime, the one who “went down” is in agonizing pain.

And so it goes. Torturing animals under the radar. AN ANIMAL WHO CAN'T WALK IS AN ANIMAL WHO CAN'T TURN A PROFIT. "GET 'EM UP!"

I now believe it is a waste of time to lobby Sec. Schafer. But your Senators and Reps, especially Democrats (who called for the hearing), can support the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act (H.R. 661/ S. 394) which bans slaughter of downer cows, pigs, sheep and all "livestock."

If you already wrote to your Senators and Rep, please write again. As background, our original letter campaign is here: 2/23/08: USDA-Certified Cruel: Downers Dragged, Shocked, Rammed

Don't let the downer law sit on a shelf for another 10 years.

2/27/08, HSUS SUES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OVER LEGAL LOOPHOLE: Humane Society files suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., alleging USDA's rule change of July 2007 — which permits some downers into food supply — jeopardizes human health and animal welfare. The lawsuit asks USDA to close the loophole. American Meat Institute, a trade association, calls HSUS allegations “alarmist and unfounded.”
DISCLAIMER: Information in these materials is verified with original source. Kinship Circle does not assume responsibility for accuracy of information or for consequences of its use. Nothing on this website intends to encourage illegal action in whatever country you are reading it in. Kinship Circle does not engage in, nor support, any form of harassment or unlawful action. Nothing in this alert serves to promote such conduct.

EMAIL ADDRESSES: Kinship Circle cannot guarantee validity of email addresses. During a campaign, recipients may change or disable their email addresses. Email addresses obtained from government or other official websites may be outdated or incorrect.
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