Farmers, activists at odds over animal treatment
By DAVID EGGERT Associated Press Writer
12:00 AM CDT, July 12, 2009
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan farmers and animal rights advocates are fighting over the treatment of farm animals, a conflict that ultimately may be taken to voters.
The farm lobby is backing bipartisan legislation that would put into law the agriculture industry's guidelines for farm animals' health and welfare, and require audits of livestock farms. A 10-member council would review and possibly update animal care standards at least every five years and local governments would be pre-empted from setting their own rules.
Upset by what it calls the industry's "blatant power grab" in the debate, the Humane Society of the United States is threatening a 2010 ballot initiative to give farm animals in confined spaces more room. Voters passed similar proposals in Arizona, California and Florida. Governors and lawmakers also enacted measures in Colorado, Maine and Oregon.
Supporters of the Michigan bills say people want to know more about where their food comes from, particularly in the wake of food recalls. Workers at a since-closed California slaughterhouse were caught on videotape abusing weak cattle to force them to slaughter, leading to the country's biggest beef recall last year.
"It really is about consumer confidence, protecting the food chain and safety of the food chain," said House Agriculture Chairman Mike Simpson, D-Jackson, who wants his committee to approve the legislation by month's end. The first committee hearing on the bills held last month drew so many people wanting to speak that it was extended another day.
"This is Michigan, not California. We're not going to allow an outside group to come into Michigan and give chickens the right to drive cars," said Simpson, a sponsor of the House bills with Rep. Jeff Mayes, D-Bay City. Sens. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, and Gerald Van Woerkom, R-Norton Shores, have introduced identical Senate bills. Read More
Oddly, Paul Shapiro claims that HSUS is only trying to eliminate the most extreme forms of confinement but what he doesn’t tell you is that they consider all forms of confinement to be extreme. Nothing less than total animal liberation is their goal. There is nothing moderate about their proposals. And the fact that two states have stood up to them and declared that they were more than capable of taking care of their own livestock, has become an incredible threat. Mostly it has become a threat to their donations and their egos.