Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Michigan's Animal Care Plan

Legislation to set gold standard in animal care
Shannon Linderoth Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A bipartisan package of bills has been introduced into the Michigan legislature regarding the care of meat and dairy animals and egg-laying hens on Michigan farms. The move is designed to set a “gold standard” of farm animal care and respond to consumer interest about food origins and safety.

“With the recent problems with food preparation in other areas of the country, Michigan consumers deserve to know that what's on their plate is of only the best quality,” says Mike Simpson, chair of the House Agriculture Committee.

The plan will:

Establish that the Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture Commission is the sole authority in the regulation of livestock health and welfare.

Implement science-based standards for animal care that farmers must implement by 2020.

Create an Animal Care Advisory Council that will make recommendations for changes to existing standards.

Create a third-party auditing system to oversee the program. Read More

Michigan is another state that has been the target of animal rights groups. Rather than caving to the threats of these groups, Michigan has decided to be pro-active by establishing what they call the “gold standard” of animal welfare. Of course the animal rights groups, like HSUS, are quite upset over this because they aren’t getting their way. They want to dictate their agenda to society not work with them.


MaryAinMI said...

Hello, Troy - I'm not a crazed animal welfare activist, but I do have concerns as to the decent care of Michigan livestock and what this new proposed legislation may or may not do to ensure that, especially since this "gold standard" (if I am reading the animal care standards being adopted - e.g., the Beef Quality Assurance program as adoptd by the American Veal Association in 2001 - correctly) are more about efficient agriculture and safe food, not about animal welfare. Is there a reason some of the animal welfare standards suggested by entities other than agribusiness are not included in the proposed legislation? nd doesn't the fact that such standards have been excluded concern you in any way? Can you advise me of the enforcement rules in this legislation to ensure that the minimal care of livestock is, indeed, being undertaken and what the penalties are if it is not? Thank you!

Troy Hadrick said...

I'm not in the business of law like you are, but here is what i know. The people that have dedicated their lives to animal agriculture usually know what's best for their livestock. Their livelihood depends on it. So rather than letting an out-of-state animal rights group dictate through the ballot box how livestock should be handled, why not let the experts, including consumers, have some say in the matter. Much of what groups like HSUS propose can actually decrease the comfort of the animal. We need to do what makes them the most comfortable, not what makes us comfortable.

MaryAinMI said...

Unfortunately, consumers won't have any say in this matter unless our legislators are forced to put it on the ballot. Plus, this legislation grants the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Commission on Agriculture sole authority to regulate livestock health and welfare in the entire State. Local authorities would no longer have any authority whatsoever to regulate livestock health and welfare in their own jurisdictions. I realize this may make agri-business more streamlined, but I'm not convinced that efficiency is always in the best interests of the animal. This legislative initiative would have more credibility if more than agri-business had been brought to the table in order to craft it. I think you are quite brave to call these proposed bills a "gold standard" as your post implies that you may not have read them. I've only just started to read the bills and their background, but it certainly appears that consumers of eggs and meat - and all of Michigan's residents - will be left out of the whole livestock welfare rule making if this legislation passes. If I'm reading your blog correctly, the sole reason you are lauding these bills is that you see them as deflecting the "agenda" of animal rights groups. Just because these bills may do that doesn't make them good law.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who sets the standards for how lawyers must act? Is it an outside group? Or are they self-regulated? Lawyers have a very big impact on the quality of life of the people they represent. You would think that someone should look into whether or not they are treating these people in a humane way. Maybe a ballot initiative is in order...

Troy Hadrick said...

Consumers always have a choice Mary. They get to vote with every dollar they spend. The other thing you need to remember is that if livestock are receiving the very best care, then the owner will probably lose money on them. So in that sense, it's very self regulating. If you read the article, you will see the 'gold standard' wasn't my term. Rather it was how it was described in the news article.

Also remember this, things you may think sound good for livestock may actually not be. the anti-confinement bills that animal rights groups have tried to sell around the country have actually reduced the welfard of animals. You can't make decisions about livestock handling based on how YOU would feel.