The Humane Society of the United States has released a new undercover video that put on public display cruel treatment of dairy cows at the Portales Livestock Auction in Portales, N.M. The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Meat Institute immediately issued statements condemning the animal handling abuses depicted on the video.
"Humane handling is both ethically appropriate and has real economic benefits in terms of safer workplaces and better meat quality," said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. "This type of handling is harmful to animals and to the industry's reputation. The fact that this occurred is simply inexplicable."
On May 20 Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer announced a proposed rule to initiate a complete ban on the slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle that go down after initial inspection. Of the nearly 34 million cattle that were slaughtered last year, less than 1,000 cattle that were re-inspected were actually approved by the veterinarian for slaughter representing less than 0.003% of cattle slaughtered annually. Schafer said to eliminate further misunderstanding of the rule it is sound policy to simplify this matter by initiating a complete ban on the slaughter of downer cattle.
"I have asked the cattle and beef packing industry to voluntarily abide by this ban," Schafer says. "Many are already doing so while the proposed rule is going through its final phases of approval and implementation."