Archive for September, 2012

“Ham Scam”: When pork lobbyists take money from farmers

Below is a press release from the HSUS.  I just printed the press release because apparently mainstream media (including NPR) can’t seem to report the issue fairly.  So here it is from the source.
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Lawsuit Challenges $60 Million Federal Payout for “The Other White Meat” Slogan

The HSUS and Pig Farmers Allege Iconic Slogan was Sold Unlawfully to Fund Anti-Animal Welfare Lobbying Campaigns

WASHINGTON (Sept. 24, 2012) –The Humane Society of the United States—along with an independent pig farmer and on behalf of its pig farmer members—filed a lawsuit in federal district court, charging that the National Pork Board struck an unlawful backroom deal with a D.C. lobbying organization for the purchase of the iconic “Pork: The Other White Meat” slogan. The deal allows $60 million in pork producers’ money collected for marketing and promotion purposes to be diverted into industry lobbying efforts aimed at harming animal welfare and small farmers.

“The National Pork Producers Council has a failed track record when it comes to representing family farmers and preventing animal cruelty,” said Joe Maxwell, director of rural development and outreach at The HSUS and a Missouri pig farmer. “While we can’t force NPPC to care about animals or family farmers, through this lawsuit we can work to stop our money from being unlawfully funneled straight to its lobbyists who work against us.”

The National Pork Board—a quasi-governmental entity receiving mandatory fees, called “checkoffs,” from independent pork producers—purchased the slogan from its long-time industry ally, the National Pork Producers Council in 2006.

Through months of research, The HSUS uncovered 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.

Launched in 1987, “The Other White Meat” was developed as the primary promotional message of the National Pork Board’s checkoff program. According to federal law, every U.S. pork producer must pay into the checkoff program, but those funds can only be used for strictly limited promotional and research purposes, and may not be used for lobbying. The U.S. Department of Agriculture supervises the checkoff program and has authority to reject expenditures that are not in compliance with federal laws or regulations.

Records suggest that industry leaders were fully aware of the impropriety of the sale and deliberately worked to prevent public knowledge of it. Then-National Pork Board CEO Steve Murphy wrote in 2006, for example, that his reason for not accepting written appraisals for the sale was to keep that information “sealed” and out of the “public domain.”

The purchase price, to be paid by the National Pork Board to the National Pork Producers Council in 20 annual installments of $3 million each, has been reported by NPPC as representing nearly one-third of its annual budgeted revenue. These payments continue, despite the fact that the slogan has been discontinued and replaced with a new one by the National Pork Board, which has the power to cancel the payments.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to cancel the unlawful purchase and ensure that the remaining balance—tens of millions of dollars—will benefit the producers who fund the checkoff instead of NPPC’s anti-animal, anti-farmer lobbying agenda. The complaint does not challenge the constitutionality of the checkoff program but alleges a gross misuse of a massive amount of federally-compelled check-off payments funneled into lobbying purposes.

Facts:

  • The NPPC lobbies against animal welfare legislation, even when it doesn’t affect the pork industry. For example, NPPC is currently lobbying against the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, H.R. 3798/S. 3239, which would improve the treatment of egg-laying hens and provide a stable and secure future for U.S. egg farmers. NPPC opposes the bill even though it is backed by egg farmers and egg industry groups.
  •  The NPPC advocates for immobilizing breeding pigs in tiny cages essentially for years on end, and it lobbies against laws that would simply allow pigs to turn around. The use of gestation crates has been banned in nine U.S. states, is being phased out by major pork producers and food companies, and condemned by renowned experts like Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
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New Westminster council considering a ban on retail pet sales thanks to…

Kathy Powelson and the Paws for Hope Animal Foundation (ref: Royal City Record).

It’s amazing what can happen when we let our elected leaders know exactly what our communities need (especially when it doesn’t cost the city to make these changes).  With courage and tenacity, Powelson and her fellow advocates are speaking up for what many people believe is a good step to help end the euthanasia of 3-4 million cats and dogs that end up in North American animal shelters every year (ref:  HSUS, American Humane Association).

Whenever I have spoken to representatives or leaders of the cities where we live and suggest that we ban the sale of animals, the most common response I’ve gotten is “Well, I’ve never thought about it” or “No one has ever suggested it.”

So thank you Kathy for not only suggesting it, but advocating for significant change to help animals.

Check out Paws for Hope Animal Foundation at pawsforhope.org.

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Clearing obstructions to humane treatment: Court upholds Prop 2 in California

Happy pigs napping at Pigs Peace Sanctuary

I think the HSUS press release explains this one best, so see below.  But essentially, a US court has upheld the constitutionality of a ballot measure to eventually phase out extreme confinement of certain farm animals in California.   Some information on the proposition is copied below.

“California Proposition 2 was enacted in 2008 by a statewide vote of 63.5 to 36.5 percent. It won in 47 of 58 counties, including in many top agricultural and rural counties. The measure granted producers a phase-in period of more than six years to transition to more humane housing systems, and is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.”

 RELEASE from the HSUS:

Federal Court Upholds California Ballot Measure Preventing Extreme Confinement of Farm Animals in Crates and Cages

Proposition 2 Cleared To Take Effect in 2015

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Sept. 12, 2012)–The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 2, the California ballot measure banning the inhumane confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and veal calves in cages so small the animals cannot stretch their limbs, lie down, or turn around. Acting on motions filed by The Humane Society of the United States and the California Attorney General, the Court rejected each and every challenge to the ballot measure, which was filed by a disgruntled California egg producer earlier this year.

In upholding the measure, the Court concluded that “Proposition 2 establishes a clear test that any law enforcement officer can apply, and that test does not require the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute.” The Court chastised the plaintiff for filing the case, noting that “the mere fact that Plaintiff dislikes or disagrees with the policy or language of Proposition 2 is not sufficient to sustain a Constitutional challenge.”
“We are delighted the Court has sided with the millions of California voters who supported this measure, and chose humane treatment over extreme confinement practices,” said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States. “Proposition 2 is a simple, basic humane standard that is easy to understand, and well within the State’s broad legal authority to prevent animal cruelty.”

California Proposition 2 was enacted in 2008 by a statewide vote of 63.5 to 36.5 percent. It won in 47 of 58 counties, including in many top agricultural and rural counties. The measure granted producers a phase-in period of more than six years to transition to more humane housing systems, and is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

The Humane Society of the United States, the main backer of the measure, and egg producers in California and nationwide are working together in the U.S. Congress to pass federal legislation— the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments, S. 3239 sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and H.R. 3798 sponsored by Reps. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., Sam Farr, D-Calif., and Jeff Denham, R-Calif.—that would extend the humane protections of Proposition 2 to the entire U.S. egg industry and phase out the use of barren battery cages over the next 15 to 18 years. A very limited number of farmers have begun to invest in enriched colony housing systems, which provide each bird with nearly double the amount of space as well as nesting areas and scratch pads so they can engage in more natural behaviors, in hopes that this legislation will pass and provide clarity for what is acceptable hen housing in all states in the future.

“Animal welfare groups and the egg industry had a divisive battle over Prop 2, but have now come together and found a solution that is good for animal welfare, the egg industry, and consumers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “With this lawsuit behind us, it’s now more clear than ever that Congress needs to pass a federal bill supported by all the major stakeholders—which would give protections not only to California’s 20 million laying hens but to all 285 million hens in the nation, and give egg producers a level playing field that provides stability and security for their industry.”

The HSUS was represented in the case pro bono by lawyers in the San Francisco office of Schiff Hardin, LLP, and The HSUS’ animal protection litigation section.

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A Sidecar for Pigs Peace Weekend!

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More to come…”Solutionaries”

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