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21 Nov 2010 - You’ve Been Doing It Wrong, All These Years?

So you are a producer of poultry and livestock that ultimately goes to market and ends up on dinner tables across the country. You are doing a good job; you are concerned about the nutrition and the health and the well-being, and the humane treatment of your birds and your animals and you follow the humane programs put forth by animal scientists at land- grant colleges and universities. You work hard at it.

Well my friends, I’m sorry, you are not working hard enough. A story a few days ago in the Chicago Tribune by reporter Monica Eng started this way:

“Whole Foods Market harbors the same hopes for its chickens that many parents do for their kids; that they will get plenty of fresh air, live at home until they reach maturity and avoid gaining weight so fast that they can’t walk. These are a few of the animal welfare practices the retailer hopes to encourage with a humane meat rating system being piloted in the South and scheduled for national expansion early next year.”

Whole Foods Market will add another label to that package of meat or poultry and it is the “animal welfare rating” label. Now, listen to what you, as a producer, must do to get the highest animal welfare rating to sell at Whole Foods Market.

Broiler chickens - They must be bred, hatched and raised on farms under the same proprietorships. When moved, they must be carried upright, one at a time. Maximum group size, 500 birds; and they must be able to perch.

If you are going to produce pork that will get you the highest animal welfare rating label at Whole Foods Market - Slaughter is required at the same or a local farm; pigs must remain with their litter mates for their entire lives; they must have unrestricted access to mud wallows and there must be vegetation on at least 50% of pasture.

If you are raising beef, to get the highest animal welfare rating - No electric prods, antibiotics or growth hormones; slaughter required at the same or local farm; cattle brands and clipping ears for identification prohibited; no castration allowed; and calves must be naturally weaned from their mothers.

Here we go again with more rules and regulations, put in place by people who more than likely have never raised poultry or livestock. Nowhere in the story did anyone from Whole Foods Market say anything about paying producers more if you do all of these things, but they did say they are going to work to attract other national chains and restaurants to join them in their “animal welfare rating” program. Where will it end?

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.