On August 19, 2012, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordered its inspection staff at Central Valley Meat (CVM) to go home. Because the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) of 1906 requires inspection by USDA to be continuous during slaughter of cattle, this USDA action essentially shuttered the plant for the time being. This action at CVM has been well documented at Food Safety News and many other electronic Ag and Meat journals. The reporting has been fair and complete, but the discussions that have followed have been, at times, so inaccurate and unfair that I have felt the need to respond in some detail. I was at the USDA on February 1, 2008, when a similar action was taken at Hallmark/Westland meats. There are similarities and there are differences, but the role of the USDA was the same at both plants. First, the similarities: Undercover agents working at slaughter plants as undercover agents for the Humane Society of the United States (Hallmark/Westland) and Compassion Over Killing (CVM) used hidden cameras to film egregious inhumane handling of cows. Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes. Both plants slaughtered a very large number of old, culled dairy cows and sold beef to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). If you want to get the public’s attention using video, you want to go to a facility that slaughters old dairy cows and then sells the meat to the NSLP. As opposed to 20-30 month old steers that have been content to eat grain in a feedlot, these cows are often 10-12 years of age, and are often not in good enough shape to handle a ride of even a few miles in hot weather. They sometimes are sick, they always are old, and they often lay down to rest and refuse to get up. And here lies the opportunity for video if the plant is not impeccable in its handling of these non-ambulatory or “downer” animals. But on with the similarities: Each plant had an inspection work force felt to be adequate to assure our meat was safe. That work force would include on-line inspectors whose only opportunity to observe inhumane handling would be coming to and going from work plus break time, time which is officially their own, not the plant’s or the USDA’s. There might be one or two off-line inspectors with multiple responsibilities. There would also be a Public Health Veterinarian on duty. S/He is responsible in most plants to observe animals in motion and at rest to screen for Central Nervous System disorders such as BSE and other chronic disease manifestations. But this individual is also usually responsible for carcass by carcass inspection after the hide has been pulled off. At Hallmark, this individual was condemning about 20 carcasses per day to protect you and me. You see, contrary to so many discussants’ uninformed opinions, this person cannot be in two places at once. I compare the PHV to a State Trooper. It is my job to obey the speed limit, it is the trooper’s job to be a presence at times that encourages me to not speed, not knowing when he will pop up. It is the plant’s job to obey the Humane handling Act, and it is the PHV’s job to occasionally stroll through the pens to confirm the Act is being complied with. If the discussants calling for USDA employee’s heads, and even the Secretary’s job, want 24/7 FSIS coverage, then go get the funding for it and watch our taxes go up. There was one major difference, so far, between CVM and Hallmark. In 2008, if a cow had passed antemortem inspection by the PHV, in motion and at rest, then decided to lie down and not get up, the plant could ask the PHV to come out to the pen and examine the animal. If a cause for the non-ambulatory condition could be determined, such as a fractured leg or ruptured tendon, the animal could be euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box. In the Hallmark incident, there was irrefutable evidence that non-ambulatory cattle entered the food supply without follow up inspection by the PHV. Investigations confirmed this had been going on for over one year. Not often, but on occasion. This fact makes the meat “unfit” for consumption because rules were not followed and proper inspection not completed. We were criticized, but why have rules like the “downer rule” if they are not a part of protection of the food supply? The HSUS won on this count, because the USDA responded the next year by completely banning all downers and non-ambulatory cattle from getting into the food chain. Throwing away perfectly good meat is a waste, and drives up the cost of our beef. One slaughter plant out of 800 tried to cheat the system, and an entire industry was taken to task. The difference, so far, at CVM, is that although the video is despicable, there is no evidence these mistreated animals ever got into the facility and the food chain. It is being said by bashers of the federal government that the USDA overreacted at CVM. There is a law, passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States that says inhumane handling will not be tolerated and FSIS is to suspend inspection when it is seen. USDA/FSIS was simply following the law. You don’t like it, change the law but do not drag these federal employees over the coals for doing what they had to do. If any reader is interested, the transcript of my testimony in front of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, regarding Hallmark/Westland and the Q and A that followed can be seen online. In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. There are many interlocking steps to keep us safe, including: 1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd. 2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health. 3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion. 4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and 5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil. Editor’s Note: –Dr. Raymond Responds To Some of the Comments Below– Wowser, only a blog on raw milk could stir up more vitriol and I was only stating the facts behind USDA”s action. Shelly, if you go to the COK web sight, the second sentence you will read is this: “COK focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promotes vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, both for humans and nonhumans.” So please explain your first response by saying I had lost all creditibility by calling a spade a spade? And just so you know, the USDA will not be fining Central Valley because the law prohibits them from doing so. I know, because ever y year we went to the Appropriations Committee with our budget and requested authority to fine plants for certain circumstances and every year we were denied. Again, just trying to point out the facts so people can make informed decisions and comments. As for the comment that USDA is supposed to promote Ag, and therefore this action should get people fired? As I tried to explain, they just followed the law. And besides promoting Ag, they promote and protect animal, plant and human health, run the US Forest Service, direct food stamps and school lunches to name a few other items of business for the USDA. Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique. I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores. The animal rights activists are winning, and we are helping them with inhumane practices. BTW, USDA shuttered 12 plants in 1997, the year before Hallmark, for inhumane handling observed by FSIS employees. They just didn’t send the videos to the Washington Post and NY Times. Image: Watering cattle and providing shelter are two important ways to help keep them cooler and less stressed during heat waves. Photo by Keith Weller, USDA, ARS, Photo Library.

  • “Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes. ”
    You lost any credibility–any–with this paragraph.
    Yes, many in the animal welfare movement would like to end all meat consumption, but others in the movement are doing nothing more than attempting to stop the most, as you say, egregious forms of cruelty when it comes to livestock practices.
    Throwing away perfectly good meat? From cows too sick to even move? Are you serious?
    No wonder we have the problems we have today, if your attitude reflects the USDA’s attitude at the time you were still employed by the government. Hopefully, times have changed with you gone.
    The people doing most of the blaming of the USDA in this incident are people who are also doing everything in their power to misdirect attention from the entity truly responsible for the cruel practices outlined in the video: the company that owns and operates the plant.
    The lack of training and capability demonstrated in the video should give any person concerned about food safety pause, because if this level of incompetency is matched throughout the plant, then we have to wonder how safe the meat truly is.
    We are all aware that the USDA is underfunded. That doesn’t mean we have to just say, “Oh well, guess we can’t do anything”. What we can do is what the undercover investigators did do: expose the acts of cruelty, and take the investigative material to the USDA for prompt action. And the action was prompt.
    If, as you imply, the videos are “staged” or not conclusive, the USDA would not have acted.
    So perhaps in your reactive defense of the USDA, you might consider the fact that these investigators acted in concert with the USDA, not against it.

  • Ted

    No, not OK Doc. Not even close to OK.
    You correctly point out inspectors are to be pulled when inhumane treatment is endemic at the plant in question. Obviously your intrepid inspectors did not see with their own eyes evidence sufficient to warrant their walking off the job.
    No, instead some USDA PR toadie viewed biased unofficial video images from known hostile activists, then panicked and pulled inspection from the plant, effectively destroying it.
    USDA rushed into the activists’ arms, eagerly playing the stooge to their underhanded agenda.
    USDA missed the play. Completely. Then covered it’s own ass against the threat of nasty public relations flak from extremists in our midst.
    Screw USDA if they aren’t there for agriculture. Close the department to reduce the national debt…or rename it the United States Department of Anti-agriculture. Goddam scab bureaucrats being jerked around by the hair.

  • Jon

    Seems former USDAer and now Meatingplace advocate “Doc Meat” has a bone to pick with food safety scrutiny:
    “The HSUS won on this count, because the USDA responded the next year by completely banning all downers and non-ambulatory cattle from getting into the food chain. Throwing away perfectly good meat is a waste, and drives up the cost of our beef.
    Given a choice many consumers might not appreciate the “perfectly good meat” of “spent” dairy cows. Inbred factory dairy cows that are confined on concrete for their entire lives, drug injected, milked 3 times a day, fed farm waste products including chicken manure/bedding fed cow parts doesn’t produce a high quality or safe meat to begin with. And Doc — and Ted — feel prohibiting downers is a waste?

  • gmh

    Hmmm…seems to be a strange sort of consensus forming — USDA has not only dropped the ball, it has kicked it out of bounds to penalize the home team.
    From meatless Mondays to kneejerk plant closings, USDA seems to be hacking away at the very agriculture they are funded to promote. Time to stop defending USDA and begin defunding USDA. Do a complete spring housecleaning — from top to bottom sweep skulking antifarm advocates on the USDA dole back out into the nonprofit sector where they belong.
    Vilsack should step down. USDA programs hurtful to agriculture should be dismantled — the entire USDA can go if need be. Election year and a farm bill on the horizon — no better time than the present to set sinister out-of-whack things aright. Call and email your congressmen, insist our corrupted USDA be cleaned up or shut down. Espionage and sabotage at USDA threaten food security and so national security.
    Finally, a cause everyone can agree upon!

  • No words, just utter disbelief. USDA decides: it’s cruelty as usual for California slaughterhouse, in spite of USDA policy. Humane Methods of Slaughter Act? Bah humbug! At least now consumers KNOW FOR SURE that their hamburger and dairy come from sick, lame cows who can barely walk to the kill floor and are beaten, prodded with electric prods, sprayed with scalding water, and tortured before and while they are killed. Will USDA or plant managers monitor the animal cruelty at this facility or install video surveillance? Highly unlikely. It’s cruelty as usual in spite of American values and morality. The only way to stop this insanity is to quit buying the product. No meat. No dairy. No eggs.
    Go Vegan and nobody gets hurt.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRS-kzgoRq0

  • appalled

    Let’s correct your “trooper” analogy Doc. Here’s what just happened:
    Imagine for the moment I don’t care for you or the way you live so I stalk you everywhere you go, waiting for an opportunity to jam you up good. I spot a trooper who’s distracted and recognize my chance.
    I run up to the trooper screaming and crying and flailing my arms and tell him I saw you roll through a stop sign and show him where I’ve published on the internet some video of some car rolling through some stop sign. I threaten to raise holy Hell with the trooper and his supervisor and his supervisor’s supervisor, and so on. That trooper thinks he isn’t paid enough, certainly not enough to protect you (and himself) from my hysteria. Not to worry; there is an expedient solution, however.
    And I am gratified when the trooper immediately hunts you down and suspends your drivers license, impounds your car and prevents you showing up at your work so you get fired. I am so delighted I practically wet myself.
    Consider it a weaselly form of vigilante citizen’s arrest if it makes you feel any better.

  • The plant re-opened today, after the USDA reviewed its plan for correction.
    So much for destroying the plant.
    I would hope that the agency at least imposes some stiff fines.

  • Perhaps better than a fine is the fact that so many companies will no longer do business with Central Valley Meat. And it can’t supply meat to the school lunch program until it proves it has mended its ways.
    In the end, the videos did do what they hoped to accomplish: eliminate egregious acts of inhumane cruelty.
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/central-valley-slaughterhouse-reopens.html

  • Monday, August 27, 2012
    Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?
    Opinion & Contributed Articles
    by Dr. Richard Raymond | Aug 27, 2012 Opinion
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008)
    snip…
    In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. There are many interlocking steps to keep us safe, including:
    1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.
    2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.
    3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.
    4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and
    5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.
    https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did-its-job-ok/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=120827
    OPINION REBUTTAL Terry
    Greetings,
    Well Dr. Raymond, since you called me out, I must respond Sir.
    Yes, our children health and safety mean more to me than taxes.
    Indeed I would like to comment on some of your fallacies Dr. Raymond.
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
    snip…
    see Terry full text rebuttal on Dr. Raymond and the USDA BSE surveillance, SRM, and feed ban and all the fallacies there from ;
    Monday, August 27, 2012
    Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?
    Opinion & Contributed Articles
    by Dr. Richard Raymond | Aug 27, 2012 Opinion
    Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008)
    http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did.html

  • Jethro

    Clever distraction, Doc Raymond, baiting Terry to stop by and smother this thread with his voluminous BSE crap. I suppose you think that givesyou and your beloved USDA needed cover to slip out of the bright light of well deserved scrutiny?
    Your cute political stunt only amplifies the stench of USDA’s latest evacuation of chickensh!t in the face of anti-farm terrorists. Your beloved extremists may have you by the jewels but they do not have the market cornered on outrage or tenacity. We shall see what we shall see regarding the value of USDA in upcoming policy and budgeting. It isn’t in the nature of farmers to keep a kicking cow or a biting dog. Besides, we are in desperate need of Federal cost cutting and USDA is an easy mark, ripe for plucking. We will be national heroes (except among bureaucratic hogs at the trough) when we nimbly trim most of USDA from the budget. One more obstacle to business and prosperity will be eliminated.
    This isn’t over. It is just beginning Doc.

  • Jade

    Shelley,
    You are correct in stating that most people in the animal welfare movement are doing nothing more than attempting to stop cruelty when it comes to livestock practices. However, the author was clearly talking about animal RIGHTS groups, which will go to extreme lengths to prove a point. Animal welfare organizations have a much different agenda than animal rights organizations. I have absolutely no respect for the HSUS or PETA, and if you saw earlier, the name of the animal rights group that released the video is Compassion Without Killing. I would have to say they are against animal consumption due to the “without killing” part of the name, but that is an assumption. In no way am I condoning what happend at the plant.. I think it is absolutely horrifying and the plant should suffer the consequences, and the employees commiting the crime should be terminated. However, I have no tolerance for animal rights groups that exist simply to ruin the reputation of and bring down animal processors/growers.

  • re-jethro
    Jethro
    08/27/2012
    12:05PM
    say there jethro,
    Farmers are National Heros.
    Farmers were that before the teaparty.
    Farmers will be that, after the teaparty.
    Finally, TSE prions know no borders, TSE prions know no age groups, TSE prions know no political party.
    sadly, it is a political and industry fed disease $$$
    and it is mutating, jethro’s post just proved it. …
    with sad regards,
    terry

  • Jethro, I haven’t read through all that Terry provided, but I respect people who take time to write a thorough reply.
    Jade, I would call PETA an “animal rights” group, but HSUS is most definitely an animal welfare group. No animal rights group would have agreed to a hen colony system compromise with the egg industry, which HSUS did.
    And frankly, does it matter?
    The organization filmed obvious acts of inhumane treatment of cows, and then took the evidence to the USDA. The USDA then immediately acted.
    In addition, the group published its undercover investigations, and companies who bought meat from Central Valley, stopped doing so.
    In the end, does it matter how the group terms itself, because the end result is (we hope) significant improvements in handling of the cows at the plant.
    Now, some people may view the video and decide not to eat beef. Or buy dairy products. Others, though, may continue, but look more closely at the suppliers at the products. At a minimum, we hope things improve at this plant. And that’s what matters.

  • Wowser, only a blog on raw milk could stir up more vitriol and I was only stating the facts behind USDA”s action.
    Shelly, if you go to the COK web sight, the second sentence you will read is this:
    “COK focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promotes vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, both for humans and nonhumans.”
    So please explain your first response by saying I had lost all creditibility by calling a spade a spade?
    And just so you know, the USDA will not be fining Central Valley because the law prohibits them from doing so. I know, because every year we went to the Approps committee with our budget and requested authority to fine plants for certain circumstances and every year we were denied. Again, just trying to point out the facts so people can make informed decisions and comments.
    As for the comment that USDA is supposed to promote Ag, and therefore this action should get people fired? As I tried to explain, they just followed the law. And besides promoting ag, they promote and protect animal, plant and human health, run the US Forest Service, direct food stamps and school lunches to name a few other items of business for the USDA.
    Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique.
    I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores.
    The animal rights activists are winning, and we are helping them with inhumane practices.
    BTW, USDA shuttered 12 plants in 1997, the year before Hallmark, for inhumane handling observed by FSIS employees. They just didn’t send the videos to the Washington Post and NY Times.

  • “Undercover agents working at slaughter plants as undercover agents for the Humane Society of the United States (Hallmark/Westland) and Compassion Over Killing (CVM) used hidden cameras to film egregious inhumane handling of cows.
    Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes.”
    Both animal rights groups have an agenda?
    You’re too quick to dismiss animal welfare activities, or to lump them all the same. This undermined your credibility.
    As for the following statement:
    ‘Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique.’
    I looked through your post and I thought I remembered reading something about the video shown online was only a few minutes, and we don’t know what the other video had.
    And there was another statement, about throwing away good meat, or something to that effect.
    In fact, your post seems to be different.
    Did you edit your writing after you published it? Not just added the response to us–but actually changed your original writing?

  • Jon

    That’s the Main problem with USDA isn’t it? The meat/produce/biotech/etc food industry insists USDA is there to promote their US Agribusiness — period. The foxes are very content to run the taxpayer-fed henhouse — through revolving doors and campaign contributions and other forms of legitimized corruption.
    But USDA — Really — is a Gov’t (of the people, by the people, for the people) Regulatory Agency charged with — protecting the public.
    What USDA needs is the power to create Agribusiness user fees and to heavily FINE these miscreant food corporations so that we the public aren’t subsidizing all these gluttonous foxes. Looks like there needs to be some house cleaning first…..

  • Cyndy

    “If a cause for the non-ambulatory condition could be determined, such as a fractured leg or ruptured tendon, the animal could be euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box.”
    OK, I’m confused about the above statement. The animal is euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box? Does this mean that this animal is still slaughtered for its meat? With the euthanizing drugs in the meat? Please clarify. Thanks!

  • doc raymond

    Nice try, Shelly, but the post has not been altered or doctored up.

  • minkpuppy

    Shelley,
    Perhaps you misread or misinterpreted some of the comments in the article? Please consider that rather than accusing Dr. Raymond of sneakily editing the article because he you called out. It costs you nothing to admit that maybe, just maybe, you were mistaken about what you thought you read this one time rather than becoming defensive and accusing the other person of lying. It doesn’t reflect well on you or your credibility when you do so.
    The article is exactly the same as the one I read yesterday, before Dr. Raymond responded to comments. I had decided I was done commenting on this issue because of the nastiness that’s being spewed by certain posters but I cannot stand by and let your comment go. My experience with Dr. Raymond is that he’s a straight shooter, always has been. People don’t always like what he says but he says what needs to be said. He has nothing to gain by changing what he wrote and pretending he didn’t.
    ***For the record, before the haters jump on my butt, I hide my identity for a reason. I don’t feel like getting fired over stating my opinion on my own time if it disagrees with FSIS policy and practice. It’s easier to just use a nickname than to constantly state that I don’t represent FSIS on here. The people that need to know my identity already do and I correspond with them through emails regularly.***
    This video may not have been staged but it was highly edited. Some elements were certainly embellished in the narration to make it appear that the cows were actually still alive when they were hoisted up on the chain when they were clearly dead due to the slack tongues and necks. The hot shots to the face, standing on the muzzle, forcing cows to stand and multiple shots to the head were not staged and needed to be dealt with.
    I have no problem with whistleblowers calling attention to abuses as long as they stick to the actual abuses and don’t misrepresent normal death responses. Posting video of normal post-stun kicking and twitching dead cow with an obviously slack neck and tongue while claiming the cow is still alive is a blatant falsehood and does nothing to help people understand the actual kill process.
    Death is never a pretty sight but as horrible as it is, let’s not confuse it with abusive treatment. It’s normal to be disturbed by it even when it’s done correctly. I worry about the people that aren’t bothered by it because they are the ones that end up abusing animals and people.
    As far as the cows in the COK video are concerned, many of them could not walk due to udders horribly swollen with milk because they hadn’t been milked in at least 24 hours. High producing cows have to be milked at least 3x a day or they are miserable. It’s horribly inhumane to do that to a cow just because she’s going to the kill plant. The kill plant isn’t going to milk her and neither is the sale barn. The farmers should have the decency to euthanize the cow at the farm if she’s already suffering from illness or injury. Don’t compound it by making her carry around a huge, unmilked udder.
    For a look at slaughter done properly, see http://www.animalhandling.org/ht/d/sp/i/80622/pid/80622. It accurately depicts the post-stunning reponse of the cows that is often portrayed as abuse by animal rights videos and explains how to determine if the cow is dead or not.

  • minkpuppy

    Cyndy,
    The animals are not euthanized with drugs. They are euthanized with a hand-held captive bolt stunner applied to the skull. The bolt destroys the brain instantaneously. Drugs are never used to euthanize animals at slaughter plants.

  • Jade

    It does make a huge difference wether or not an organization deems itself animal rights or animal welfare. One is simply for the welfare of the animals, while animal rights groups believe animals have the right to live their lives without any human interference. Animal rights groups, HSUS included, want to abolish agriciulture. They go so far as to believe that we should not keep any domesticated animals because we are controlling them against their will, and god forbid we should do anything like ride a horse or keep chickens in the back yard for eggs, or keep a goat for milk. Again, I stress that what happened at this plant is unacceptable, but I swear these animal rights activists are going to be the demise of agriculture, even organic, natural, or sustainable agriculture.

  • I checked my feed reader, and I can’t tell if the writing is edited or not. But I could find sentences that led to what I think I may have been responding to. So apologies for questioning whether the text was edited or not.
    I need to remember to copy text I’m replying to when I write a comment.
    Anyway, to address your comment about staged video, you wrote the following
    “They sometimes are sick, they always are old, and they often lay down to rest and refuse to get up. And here lies the opportunity for video if the plant is not impeccable in its handling of these non-ambulatory or “downer” animals.”
    You imply that the undercover investigator is misrepresenting what’s happening in the plant–or that what is filmed is somehow not as bad as it seems. I don’t think anyone could misrepresent what was shown in the videos for Central Valley Meat.
    I could have sworn there was something about unfairly closing plants, but that could have been comments to another of the writings on this event. Anyway, you also state, in your comment
    “I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores..”
    The concern about non-ambulatory cows is based on fears of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, not based on humane handling concerns.
    Though humane handling and food safety frequently go hand in hand, in this case, the ruling was based purely on food safety issues.
    There’s a simple solution for milk farmers: don’t wait until cows are at death’s door to send off to slaughter. In addition, the farmers could rest the cow a few weeks, in which case it can handle the transport without collapse.
    Regardless, if a cow is sick, it should not go into the food system.

  • MinkPuppy, I don’t need your lecture.
    I could not find the text I thought I had responded to. It made it difficult to defend what I wrote in the first comment when I could’t find the text.
    I asked if the text had been edited. It isn’t unusual for writers to edit their text, though usually they do note when the do.
    Regardless, I apologized for traducing doc raymond’s honor.
    Having said that, doc raymond is a big boy, I’m a big girl, we’ll work it out between us–as doc raymond demonstrated.

  • R.P.

    What a pathetic cluster.
    Here we have smug bureaucrats and hysterical terrorists, timid patriots and belligerent scabs all stubbornly wrestling in their own ideological excrement. Meanwhile, a chickensh!t USDA serves the cause of extreme animal rights terrorists, capriciously shuttering a legitimate business AND directly curtailing their trade. Shades of more and more damage to be doled out to our food system, no doubt.
    USDA has been infiltrated by anti-agriculture activist scabs. They corrupt our inspection service, our social services, our policy making.
    Certainly there remain a few tried and true USDA employees but they are overwhelmed and can no longer craft intelligent rational policy. We cannot discern the good guys from the skulking activist scabs so we must purge all of them before it is too late for everyone.
    There’s a new farm bill to be crafted. Let’s make it clear to congress our obsolete compromised USDA no longer supports the modern American agriculture that is so essential to our national security. Begin defunding USDA right away. Before the skunks decimate the henhouse irrevocably. Throw the creepy saboteurs out, all of them without exception, there is nothing to lose by it and everything to gain. It would be the first fiscally responsible move Congress has made in years.

  • Barbara Holman

    “If you want to get the public’s attention using video, you want to go to a facility that slaughters old dairy cows and then sells the meat to the NSLP. As opposed to 20-30 month old steers that have been content to eat grain in a feedlot, these cows are often 10-12 years of age, and are often not in good enough shape to handle a ride of even a few miles in hot weather.”
    IOW, these animals have been so abused and mistreated that they must be further abused and mistreated.
    Every time one of these undercover videos is made public, the so-called “food animal” industry tries to get us to believe that its an isolated incident. There is no reason to believe that’s the case. In fact, just the opposite is made clear every time we see this mind-numbing cruelty.
    Don’t blame the messenger, as this op/ed does. Blame the industry for wanting bigger and bigger profits which is partially the reason for the cruelty – the workers cannot turn off the assembly line because it costs the company money.
    This op/ed is very self-serving and defensive. He wants to believe the animals are treated well and its those bag ole animal rights people who are the real problem.
    The real problem is that the consumer willingly believes these lies. They continue to buy and eat diseased “food” even though they know it will contribute to their own deaths from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and the list goes on and on.
    Go ahead and eat chunks of charred corpse but don’t pretend you don’t the truth behind how it came to be on your plate.

  • Minkpuppy

    Shelley,
    We all let our mouths and fingers get the better of us at times. It’s not easy to tell the context when you’re reading a post or email. I apologize if you took offense.
    I’m getting more than a bit aggravated with this whole fiasco and will defend my colleagues tooth and nail without regrets or apologies. At first, I was outraged as everyone else but after gather the information and seeing the video, I realized I have no place bashing the inspectors at CVM. I’ve worked in the kill plants and I know what they have to deal with. I forgot where I came from and I apologize to the inspectors at CVM for jumping on the bandwagon and assuming they weren’t doing their jobs. Sometimes we get so accustomed to what we always see that we miss what we should be seeing.
    I see this fiasco as more of a failing of the meat industry and FSIS management as a whole because they have not been letting everyone know what we do that is good and right. The AMI “glass walls” project is a step in the right direction but that video should have been out years ago.
    Putting a face on the inspection force would also help tremendously. Instead we have to hide behind nicknames for fear of saying something that D.C. doesn’t like or hasn’t “authorized” which would result in a witch hunt for our jobs and livelihood. FSIS needs to get its head out of its butt and let inspectors talk about what we do and how we do it so people know that we are out there protecting them.

  • I understand, MinkPuppy. You and I agree more often than not.
    I must confess I was feeling very irritated because I couldn’t find text I remembered. However, I should have assumed I had a brain fart, rather than the text was edited.
    (It doesn’t help that, in another web site, in a thread related to the HSUS/Ringling Brothers RICO case, Center for Consumer Freedom people were marking every one of my comments as spam. Still, that was that site, this site is different.)
    As for what you’re saying, I happen to believe the “boots on the ground” do a tough job with little thanks. I’ve seen this with the USDA APHIS AWA inspectors, where they’ve actually been threatened by backwoods red necks here in Missouri. I’m currently working on one story and my favorite little graphic for the story is a snapshot of an envelope with a threat on it–I just can’t tell if the threat is to the inspectors, the USDA, or the entire country.
    (I love the FOIA–you get so much good material for stories.)
    I see in these posts, here at FSN (and elsewhere), industry hacks who either blame the undercover agents (as Animal Rights Extremists/Terrorists), or who blame the (Big Government Evil) USDA–anything, other than the company who allowed such egregious inhumane handling to continue.
    We’ll never do better as long as these games are played. We definitely won’t have good discussions while these games are played.
    As I said, MinkPuppy, we agree more often than not.

  • I’m hearing some pretty strong opinions on this one. I am definitely opposed to animal cruelty. Everything else I have an opinion on has already been said so i’ll save some time and just say amen to that.

  • BB

    I too am opposed to animal cruelty. And especially opposed to those who demagogue it for profit, like HSUS.