AMI against petitions to ban livestock

by Editor
Monday, April 11, 2011

In comments filed with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the American Meat Institute (AMI) detailed the strong economic benefits that incentivise humane livestock handling and said that FSIS should reject two petitions filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Farm Sanctuary, which suggest that no such incentives exist.

The HSUS petition seeks immediate euthanisation of veal calves that cannot walk when they arrive at federally inspected plants. The petition seeks to prohibit the common practice of warming veal calves to permit them time to rest and become ambulatory. FSIS indicated that it is inclined to grant this petition. The Farm Sanctuary petition seeks immediate euthanisation of any livestock arriving at plants that are non-ambulatory for any reason.

In both petitions, the petitioners argued that when livestock are unable to walk, an incentive exists for plant personnel to abuse the animals and force them to walk. AMI’s comments deconstructed that argument by showing the strong incentives that exist to ensure an animal’s welfare, both in terms of the quality benefits and in terms of the costs attendant to lost production time when regulatory actions are taken in response to inhumane treatment of livestock.

AMI also noted that granting the Farm Sanctuary petition, in particular, would impede disease surveillance and could cause confusion if a non-ambulatory hog that is simply tired and refusing to rise becomes ambulatory before a veterinarian arrives to check it.

In concluding, AMI said that granting the petitions would result in unnecessary waste with no identifiable benefit.