Farm bill worries livestock producers

US - It used to be that farmers only watched the debates over a farm bill to see how much money they would get out of it.
calendar icon 12 February 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
This year, some producers have reason to watch a little nervously. Flush with cash, animal-welfare groups will be pushing to use this year's farm bill to stop practices they consider inhumane.

Among the measures Congress is likely to take up:

  • A requirement that the federal government, including the school lunch program, buy meat or dairy products from producers that meet certain animal-welfare standards, including adequate space in barns for hogs and poultry. Pork from producers who keep their sows in crates, the common practice in the industry, could no longer be sold to the government.

  • A permanent ban on slaughtering "downer" cattle or hogs - animals that are lame or ill.

  • A requirement that the U.S. Agriculture Department set standards for the humane slaughter of chickens and turkeys. Rules already in place set slaughter standards for cattle and hogs.

"We need to see the farm bill not just as a producer bill but as a producer bill and a consumer bill," said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. "This is important to the public. The public cares about the humane treatment of animals."

A lot has happened since the last farm bill was written in 2002.

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