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HSUS Urges Congress to Pass Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act
Washington, DC - Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) made history for farm animals June 8 by introducing landmark legislation that would greatly improve the welfare of millions of animals on factory farms.
"We are grateful to Congressmembers Shays and DeFazio for introducing this important legislation, which would dramatically improve the lives of the millions of animals being raised for the meat, eggs and dairy products that the federal government purchases,"
- Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS
The Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act would establish basic animal welfare standards for the meat, egg and dairy industries, and it would require producers supplying animal products to the federal government to comply with these standards.
Each year, more than 10 billion farm animals are raised and slaughtered in the United States, yet there is no federal law regulating the treatment of these animals while they're on the farm.
The Shays/DeFazio bill, H.R. 5557, outlines basic animal welfare principles and would require federal suppliers to provide farm animals with adequate shelter and space, daily access to food and water, and adequate veterinary care.
Those selling animal products to the federal government could not starve or force-feed animals, leave sick or injured animals to languish without treatment or humane euthanasia, or confine animals so restrictively that they are unable to turn around and extend their limbs-all of which permitted now under federal law.
Working Toward Better Treatment
"The way a society treats its animals speaks to the core values and priorities of its citizens," said Rep. Shays, co-chair of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus. "Our government can have a tremendous impact in encouraging improved treatment of animals by requiring producers to meet basic federal animal welfare requirements. I look forward to working with Rep. DeFazio and HSUS on building support for this legislation."
"Increasingly, Americans are demanding we treat farm animals more humanely," Rep. DeFazio said. "As a major buyer of farm animal products, the federal government can and should help lead the way, encouraging more humane practices."
Each year, the federal government spends billions of dollars on food for programs and agencies including the National School Lunch Program, the Armed Services, and the Bureau of Prisons. Consumers are demanding better animal welfare standards and many national corporations have stopped selling eggs from hens kept in battery cages and adopted other food reforms. The Shays/DeFazio bill would help move the market in this direction.
Catching Up with Industry and the European Union
In the United States, many companies including McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Natural Marketplace have raised standards for their respective suppliers in recent years. Across the Atlantic, the entire European Union is mandating welfare improvements for suppliers.
"We are grateful to Congressmembers Shays and DeFazio for introducing this important legislation, which would dramatically improve the lives of the millions of animals being raised for the meat, eggs and dairy products that the federal government purchases," commented Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "Congress decided nearly a half century ago with the passage of the first humane slaughter law that farm animals deserve a merciful death. Now it's time to give these animals a merciful life."
The Will of the People
Several recent independent polls have shown that Americans overwhelmingly support improved federal protection for farm animals. A 2003 Gallup poll found that nearly two-thirds of Americans support passing strict laws for farm animal treatment. A 2003 Zogby poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans find it unacceptable that farm animals have no federal protection from abuse while on the farm, and nearly three quarters believe that farms ought to be inspected by government officials to ensure that anti-cruelty regulations are being followed.
What You Can Do
Please urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor and support H.R. 5557 and provide basic animal welfare standards for suppliers that provide animal products to the federal government.
Article has been adapted from a news release issued by The Humane Society of the United States. Click here for the original news release.