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Farm Sanctuary Thanks President Obama And Ag Secretary Vilsack For Banning Non-Ambulatory Cattle From The Human Food Supply

May 03, 2017

Farm Sanctuary, the nation's leading farm animal rescue and advocacy organization, thanked President Barack Obama and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for closing a regulatory loophole and adopting a strict policy preventing all downed cattle - animals too sick or injured to stand - from entering the human food supply.

For more than 20 years, through its No Downers Campaign, Farm Sanctuary has documented abuse of non-ambulatory animals and worked for passage of the first laws in this country to end the marketing of downed animals. Today, the nation's leading farm animal protection organization is reiterating its call for the enactment of federal policies that would ban the slaughter of all downed animals, including pigs, sheep and other livestock.

Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, who has investigated stockyards and slaughterhouses documenting mistreatment of downed animals for 23 years, stated, "After decades of incremental steps restricting the marketing of downed animals, the USDA's strict stance on slaughtering downed cattle for human food is an important development. We believe this policy should apply to pigs and all other species as well. Animals who are too sick even to stand should never have entered the human food supply in the first place."

Over the years, Farm Sanctuary has rescued and come to the aid of hundreds of downed animals from stockyards and slaughterhouses. The organization's longstanding No Downers Campaign (nodowners) was founded in the belief that if downed animals are prevented from entering the food supply, producers would have greater incentive to improve the care of the animals under their charge.

Farm Sanctuary No Downers Campaign Timeline:

2009 - President Obama announces closure of downed cattle loophole. Farm Sanctuary continues to urge for federal legislation to end the marketing of ALL downed animals, including pigs, sheep and other livestock.

2008 - HSUS investigation of downed dairy cattle at the Westland Hallmark Meat Packing Co. leads to the largest beef recall in U.S. history. USDA proposes rule to close the downer loophole.

2007 - The USDA makes permanent the interim policy preventing the slaughter of downed cattle. This decision went into effect on October 1, 2007, and applies a permanent ban on slaughtering most cattle unable to stand and walk on their own as a result of illness, injury or a combination of illness and injury. However, a loophole in the regulation allows some downer cattle, and other downed farm animals to be slaughtered for human consumption.

2007 - New Holland Sales Stables found guilty on three counts of animal cruelty, after a Farm Sanctuary humane officer in Lancaster County, PA files charges for inhumane handling of downed sheep on the premises. New Holland Sales Stables has been the subject of multiple animal cruelty investigations through the years.

2005 - FSIS faces new policies and testing procedures for mad cow disease after 1000 violations of new slaughterhouse rules are cited. In June, the second BSE case is found from an infected cow in Texas.

2005 - The USDA cites the Chino Hallmark facility on several occasions for humane handling violations.

2004 - The Government Accounting Office releases a report on the inadequacies of the USDA inspection system, related to mad cow disease, finding gross oversights and inconsistencies in enforcement nationally. The USDA announces an interim policy against slaughtering all downed cattle.

2003 - At Farm Sanctuary's urging, USDA promulgates a rule to prevent the slaughter of downed cattle for human food. Farm Sanctuary attorneys later negotiate settlement of this lawsuit against the USDA in response to the Agency's no downer rule.

2003 - The first case of mad cow disease is discovered in a downed cow in Washington State in December.

2001 - Farm Sanctuary files a lawsuit with the USDA urging an end to the marketing of downed cattle for human consumption.

2000 - The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service issues an announcement stating that contractors who sell ground beef to the National School Lunch Program and other Federal food and nutrition programs must source beef only from slaughter facilities that do not allow the processing of non-ambulatory cattle.

1999 - Farm Sanctuary petitions USDA to label meat from downers as diseased and therefore illegal for use in human food. The USDA issues a response that the slaughter of downed, and otherwise infected animals is not illegal, implying that this is an acceptable practice.

1999 - Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978 is amended to include prohibiting the dragging of downed animals. The law applies only to livestock that are on the premises of a USDA-inspected packing plant and requires the use of humane handling and stunning methods.

1994 - Farm Sanctuary helps pass a law in California (California Penal Code 599f), which prevents dragging, pushing, holding, or selling downed animals at stockyards and slaughterhouses. Other states follow California, passing similar laws.

1993 - Farm Sanctuary achieves first ever conviction of a U.S. stockyard for mistreating a downed animal after prosecuting Lancaster Stockyards in Pennsylvania.

1993 - At the urging of hundreds of Farm Sanctuary members, a USDA-run slaughterhouse in Wisconsin is convicted of animal cruelty for mistreating a downed animal.

1993 - Farm Sanctuary documents fork lifting and dragging of downed cattle. Farm Sanctuary lobbies the California State legislature with this footage urging representatives to pass a bill protecting downers.

1992 - The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Directives 6900.1 and 6900.2 are enacted which provide guidelines for the humane handling of downed livestock; they require that inspectors ensure downed livestock are provided food, water and shelter and moved by sufficient personnel with appropriate means to ensure humane handling.

1991 - Media exposé airs startling footage obtained by Farm Sanctuary showing downed animals being dragged onto trucks. This coverage prompts the nation's largest stockyards to stop marketing downed animals and leads to the introduction of the Downed Animal Protection Act in Washington, D.C. one year later.

1986 - Farm Sanctuary rescues, Hilda, a sheep, lifted from a "downer" dead pile at a stockyard. Hilda is the first animal rescued by Farm Sanctuary and her rescue results in the launch of Farm Sanctuary's first campaign - the No Downers Campaign.

About Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the "food animal" industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and refuge efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif., provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory farming. Additional information can be found atfarmsanctuary.

Farm Sanctuary