Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food SystemTags , , ,

Farm Bureau to offer response training to counter animal rights activists

Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEOMOCRAT

After a massive animal welfare rally this week at a Petaluma egg farm, both Sonoma County farm leaders and a Bay Area animal rights activist foresee more showdowns at local ranches and livestock production facilities.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s peaceful demonstration, where 40 activists were arrested, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau is planning to offer new training to farmers who may face similar standoffs.

“We need to help our members understand what to do when an animal rights demonstration happens on their property,” said Farm Bureau Executive Director Tawny Tesconi. “We’re being asked to react to something we haven’t had to react to before.”

Cassie King, an organizer with Berkeley-based Direct Action Everywhere, which sponsored Tuesday’s protest, suggested that those who share her views will return to the county in an ongoing effort to bring an end to the confinement and killing of animals for agriculture.

Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8386026-181/sonoma-county-farm-officials-animal

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Dozens of animal welfare activists arrested after large protest at Petaluma chicken farm

Robert Digitale and Susan Minichiello, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

One of the largest animal welfare demonstrations ever held at a Sonoma County farm ended Tuesday with the peaceful arrests of 40 activists on suspicion of trespassing at an egg production facility northwest of Petaluma.

An estimated 500 demonstrators rallied for more than three hours across the street from a farm on Liberty Road north of Rainsville Road. Along with egg production barns, the property houses the offices of Sunrise Farms, one of the North Bay’s largest egg producers.

Before sheriff’s deputies arrived, dozens of activists walked onto the farm and took away about 10 chickens that were sick or dying, according to organizers of the Berkeley-based group Direct Action Everywhere.

That group, also known as DXE, and affiliated organizations gathered over the past week in Berkeley for what they called their “Animal Liberation Conference.” The event, which organizers said drew 1,200 registered participants from around the U.S. and other countries, included on its website an unspecified event for Tuesday listed simply as “Action #4.”

Organizers claim the egg farm is an example of a systemic pattern of criminal animal abuse in California that isn’t being addressed by either the justice system or by state and local animal welfare agencies.

Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8377017-181/dozens-of-animal-welfare-activists?ref=most

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Block California’s egg law, 12 states ask the Supreme Court

Associated Press, LOS ANGELES TIMES

A dozen states are banding together to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block a California law requiring any eggs sold there to come from hens that have space to stretch out in their cages.

Missouri Atty. Gen. Josh Hawley said Monday that he plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of the states alleging that since California’s law took effect in 2015, it has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually because of higher egg prices. The suit argues that California’s requirements violate the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause and are preempted by federal law.

A federal appeals court panel rejected similar claims last year in a separate case brought by six states, ruling that they failed to show California’s law would affect more than just individual farmers. The latest lawsuit seeks to address that by citing an economic analysis of the California law. It also asks the Supreme Court to take up the case directly instead of requiring that it first move through the lower courts.

Hawley, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate in 2018, is leading the lawsuit. Other plaintiff states are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. All have Republican attorneys general except Iowa, which has a Democrat.

Read more at: Block California’s egg law, 12 states ask the Supreme Court – LA Times

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Three more animal rights protesters arrested at Petaluma chicken plant 

Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

For the second time in two weeks, animal rights protesters were arrested early today on suspicion of resisting police officers during a delivery of chickens to Petaluma Poultry Processors off Lakeville Highway.

Three Berkeley residents — Rachel Ziegler, 24, Chai Masala Canaglia, 25, and Lewis Bernier, 18 — were arrested about 1:05 a.m. after several protesters ran into a public street near the plant as a truck arrived, said Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyons. Officers ordered the protesters out of the street, but Ziegler, Canaglia and Bernier stood firm, he said.

An officer feared the truck might not be able to stop in time, so he pulled Ziegler and Bernier aside, Lyons said. It was unclear how Canaglia got out of the way, but the big rig passed without anyone being injured.

A press release by the protest’s organizer, Bay Area Animal Save, suggested the truck driver might have approached the entrance too fast. Police raised no concerns about the truck’s operation, Lyons said.

The protests have been going on for a few months.

Source: Three more animal rights protesters arrested at Petaluma chicken plant | The Press Democrat

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Cheap chicken comes with human costs

Roberto A. Ferdman, WASHINGTON POST

While concerns about food safety and animal welfare dominate discussions about the perils of the modern food system, there’s a downside that many might find just as troubling: the often inhumane conditions people who work in the industry face. A new report by Oxfam America, an arm of the international anti- poverty and injustice group, alleges that poultry industry workers are “routinely denied breaks to use the bathroom” in order to optimize the speed of production. In some cases, according to the group, the reality is so oppressive that workers “urinate and defecate while standing on the line” and “wear diapers to work.” In others, employees say they avoid drinking liquids for long periods and endure considerable pain in order to keep their jobs.

The findings are the result of hundreds of interviews with line workers from some of the largest poultry processing companies in the United States, including Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s, and Perdue. And they bring the current state of the poultry industry into serious question. Competitive forces, they suggest, are driving poultry processors to produce as much meat as possible, as fast as possible, leading companies to mistreat their workers, even if unknowingly.

Today, poultry processing plants are allowed to funnel chickens through their assembly lines at a rate of 140 birds per minute, a rate which the industry recently lobbied to increase by another 35 birds per minute. The speed has been great for business, but for those working on the line, it has made for extremely taxing shifts. Just ask Debbie Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the National Employment Law Project who used to work with the government agency that oversaw industry practices. On Wednesday, she published a piece in response to the new report. This is how she described the conditions:

In my work at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I witnessed the dangers: poultry workers stand shoulder to shoulder on both sides of long conveyor belts, most using scissors or knives, in cold, damp, loud conditions, making the same forceful movements thousands upon thousands of times a day, as they skin, pull, cut, debone and pack the chickens. The typical plant processes 180,000 birds a day. A typical worker handles 40 birds a minute.

By law, companies are required to grant their employees access to bathrooms. A set of standards, written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1998, makes clear that facilities must be available to employees upon need. In response, the industry has instituted a system, whereby extra workers are available to swap in in the case someone has to leave the line to use the restroom, a system which the government supports so long as “there are sufficient relief workers to assure that employees need not wait an unreasonably long time to use the bathroom.”

But the system is either flawed or being eschewed by supervisors, according to Oxfam. Workers reported waiting for more than an hour for someone to swap in, if anyone came at all. Many of them said they were forced to urinate or defecate where they stood or leave the line without permission, because no help arrived. At some plants, workers have come to expect no relief, leading them to take embarrassing measures to withstand the conditions.

Read more at: ‘I had to wear Pampers’: The cruel reality the people who bring you cheap chicken allegedly endure – The Washington Post

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CropMobster headlines chronicle life on Sonoma County farms 

Meg McConahey, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

This just in…

Rogue Chickens Sabotage Inspires Mystery Fruit Tree Sale.

Wanted: Food for Black Bacon, a Cazadero Hills Black Hog and her babies

Deal: Two Emus Available For Sale. $50.

Looking For Work: “Need some extra hands, er … paws around the farm?”

Wanted: Three Leaves Foods CSK Wants your Uglies

The headlines at CropMobster.com offer a back fence view into the weird world of Sonoma County farms, where on an given day earnest farmers put out appeals for brewers mash and organic food waste, alerts for worm workshops and try to unload everything from surplus figs to emus.

A Craigslist for the ag set, CropMobster is where the farmer fed up with an obnoxious rooster can connect with the farmer who needs a rooster to service a flock of breeding hens. It’s a place where homely fruit unfit for the farmer’s market, can find someone to love it, or at least like it enough to can it, and where a perfectly good wheel of cheese too stinky for one woman’s kitchen can find a west county nonprofit very happy at its next meeting.

The sometimes urgent headlines telegraph the disappointments and the dreams and desperation of the farm life with a solid dose of humor.

Read more at: CropMobster headlines chronicle life on Sonoma County farms | The Press Democrat

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Eggs & farmers

Diane Peterson, SONOMA MAGAZINE

Meet the new generation of chicken ranchers raising heritage birds such as Delawares and Rhode Island Reds for both meat and eggs, often as a side business to a dairy or cattle ranch or as a second job. Like their grandparents and parents, these young farmers are finding there’s a niche for producing a food that provides a high-quality and affordable source of protein.

In the first half of the 20th century, the explosion of chicken farms amid the sunny, fog-kissed hills of Petaluma lined residents’ pockets with a feathery fortune and gilded its reputation as the richest little city in America. Dubbed “Chickaluma” and the “Egg Basket of the World,” Petaluma produced 612 million eggs in 1945, from an estimated 6 million hens.

The region had the rich, alluvial soil, cooling fog and sunny hillsides required for chickens to thrive. On Petaluma’s southern end, a series of sloughs allowed the eggs to enjoy smooth sailing on boats heading south to the Bay Area market, where they arrived unbroken and unspoiled. The area developed into a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly with the invention of the world’s first incubator.

Read more via Eggs & Farmers | Sonoma Magazine.

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Missouri files suit to block California’s egg standards

Stephanie Strom, NEW YORK TIMES

Hens in California are living the good life. Many can now lay their eggs in oversize enclosures roomy enough to stand up, lie down — even extend their wings fully without touching another bird.

Hens in most other states don’t have it so good. Their conditions, as the head of California’s egg trade group explained, are “like you sitting in an airplane seat in the economy section all your life.”

So if you’re a hen, you want to live in California. Short of that, you want California-size leg room. And that’s precisely what lawmakers in California are demanding of out-of-state farmers who sell eggs in California — setting off a feud over interstate commerce that has spilled over into the farmyard at large.

The Missouri attorney general has filed a lawsuit to block the California egg rules, and at least three other states are considering doing the same. The beef and pork lobbies are also lining up against the California rules in an effort to prevent any new restrictions on raising livestock.

Photo

New rules require egg layers to have more capacious cages. Credit Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

via Wishing They All Could Be California Hens – NYTimes.com.

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California egg law under attack by egg-exporting Missouri

David A. Lieb, ASSOCIATED PRESS, CSMONITOR.COM

Missouri’s attorney general has asked a federal court to strike down a California law regulating the living conditions of chickens, setting up a cross-country battle that pits new animal protections against the economic interests of Midwestern farmers.

The lawsuit by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster takes aim at a California law set to take effect in 2015 that prohibits eggs from being sold there if they come from hens raised in cages that don’t comply with California’s new size and space requirements.

Koster said Tuesday that the California law infringes on the interstate commerce protections of the US Constitution by effectively imposing new requirements on out-of-state farmers.

via California egg law under attack by egg-exporting Missouri (+video) – CSMonitor.com.

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Farmers expand to meet demand for pasture-raised eggs

Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

In 2008, when Don Gilardi heard that California voters might dictate the living conditions of laying hens, he began to take a keen interest in chickens. Gilardi, a Marin County rancher, concluded that the looming issue signaled consumers wanted a different approach to egg production. So he traded some of his sheep for hens and began selling eggs to Bay Area restaurants already buying his lamb.

That fall, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 2, which in 2015 will ban most existing chicken cages. About a year later, buyers from Whole Foods visited Gilardi to see if he would sell them eggs from the hens he raises a different way — not caged in warehouses but allowed to roam outside in pastures.

via Farmers expand to meet demand for pasture-raised eggs | Petaluma360.com | Petaluma Argus-Courier | Petaluma, CA.