GIPSA Proposal: Major Animal Welfare Consequences

US - The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) proposed livestock procurement rule, if finalised, would have major animal welfare consequences, said Colorado State University Professor Temple Grandin, Ph.D., in a guest column published yesterday on the Huffington Post.
calendar icon 21 October 2010
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“I always worry about rules that come out of Washington because the bureaucrats who write them often have no practical experience in the real world and that sure comes through in this latest missive,” wrote Dr Grandin.

Dr Grandin notes that as proposed, the rule would prohibit meat packers from purchasing, acquiring or receiving swine or cattle from another packer or packer-affiliated company, which means additional shipping time for animals.

“Adding shipping time is stressful to livestock and stands to increase injury and potential death losses, particularly among pigs because they are more subject to transport stress. Companies that don't want to ship the livestock the additional distance would be forced to sell their livestock to independent dealers, who serve as middle-men, to facilitate transactions. This also would present unnecessary animal welfare risks, because the dealers likely would not have the animal handling programmes and standards in place that have become the standards among production and processing facilities,” Dr Grandin wrote.

She also expressed concern that the proposed rule would complicate and compromise the effectiveness of many established animal welfare-certification programmes by requiring another level of paperwork and recordkeeping to track the additional transactions and premiums paid to producers for higher quality or niche raised animals.

“Niche producers are some of the great success stories in livestock agriculture,” she wrote. “Companies with products that bear labels like Certified Humane, American Humane Certified, Certified Angus Beef, Whole Foods or Niman Ranch have made commitments to the principles behind these labels. These companies need established relationships with farmers and ranchers they can trust to raise livestock in a way that is consistent with their brands and their humane labels. But the new proposal would make it easier for farmers and ranchers to sue meat companies that pay premiums to farmers who offer a higher quality animal that was raised in a certain way.”

“As a scientist who has dedicated her life to improving livestock welfare, I am extremely alarmed that the department ultimately responsible for enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act apparently has paid so little attention to the animal welfare implications of this proposal. I urge Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to reconsider this rule in order to maintain good animal welfare and to foster development of important niche markets that create many marketing opportunities for producers. This will help animal welfare, rural development and family farms,” Dr Grandin concludes.

You can view Dr Temple Grandin's column in its entirety by clicking here.

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