Vilsack Meets with Japanese Minister of Agriculture
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has completed a meeting with Hirotaka Akamatsu, Japan’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Among other topics, Secretary Vilsack said, we addressed the issue of Japan’s import conditions for U.S. beef and beef products.
Iowa Hog Lift Commemorated in Japan
The 1959 Kofu “Hog Lift” was commemorated in Japan while Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Japan last week. It was 50 years ago when Iowa farmers sent 36 hogs to Yamanashi Prefecture after Japan suffered major livestock losses caused by two destructive typhoons.
HSUS Targets Egg Industry
The Humane Society of the United States has released videos from four egg farms in Iowa where they claim animals were abused. Among other things - the videos show birds cramped in small cages. One of the videos was shot at Rose Acre Farms in Winterset near Des Moines. The farm has 1.2-million birds and produces 900-thousand eggs per day.
Farm Manager Kevin White says his company doesn’t tolerate inhumane practices and trains its employees in good animal welfare techniques. We, through extensive training on all our animal welfare practices they have all gone through training, they’ve all signed documents and everything. Whenever we find incidents like that, those employees are disciplined immediately, and they’re usually terminated. We don’t stand for that. We train every 6 months on these animal welfare practices, how to load those carts and everything else. We’re still investigating that, we think some of that video was staged, we’re just not sure at this point.
White says they don’t house a large number of birds in single cages at their facility. We have cut down our bird numbers in our cages, we feel that it’s an industry standard that been set by several scientist at several universities…we pretty much went from 9 birds in a cage to 7 is what we average now, the welfare is better now, the livability is better, everything is better.
HSUS video was also shot at Rembrandt Farms in Thompson and at farms in Guthrie Center and Stuart - also near Des Moines.
The egg industry was quick to respond to the egg farms video --Kevin Vinchattle is the Executive Director of the Iowa Egg Council and Iowa Poultry Association. We need to let both firms investigate and find out what the reality is. In the past some people have gone in and staged things, we just need to find out what the reality is so we know what the appropriate response is. But, the bottom line is that this is not how it’s intended to happen, nor how it’s supposed to happen.
If the video proves to be legitimate - Vinchattle says then the problems need to be addressed. I have every confidence that those two firms are going to look at that, see if in fact any of it is from either of their facilities as HSUS has alleged it is. If so, I know that they’re going to investigate and make sure that things like that aren’t happening. Because, that’s not what it’s all about.
Meanwhile - the organization that represents 97-percent of the nation’s egg farmers - United Egg Producers (UEP) - issued a statement saying it is conducting a full investigation stemming from the HSUS undercover video.
UEP oversees the egg industry’s animal welfare certification program - called UEP certified. UEP says its investigation will focus on Rose Acre Farms - one of the farms targeted by the undercover video and the only UEP Certified company mentioned. It says the other farm targeted by the video - Rembrandt Enterprises - is not a member of the UEP Certified program and cannot market eggs featuring the UEP Certified seal.
UEP says it ”takes the alleged violations of its stringent guidelines very seriously and is working to ensure full compliance.”
Hawaii to Grow Renewable Energy Systems
A series of public and private partnerships has been announced. These partnerships are designed to help establish commercial production of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems in Hawaii for use by the Department of the Navy.