You Can Make a Difference
Facing pressure from the meat industry, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking steps to allow slaughterhouses to operate at faster and faster line speeds. This will result in increased incidences of improper stunning and rougher handling of animals by slaughterhouse employees.
Spare farmed animals this additional suffering – tell your elected officials: Stop the USDA from pulling a fast one!
At the meat industry’s urging, the USDA is reducing regulatory oversight of chicken, pig, and cow slaughterhouses while also granting them permission to operate at speeds even faster than before. Faster line speeds make it difficult for workers to ensure that animals are effectively stunned before slaughter—meaning more animals will be stabbed and even boiled alive while still fully conscious.
As slaughter line speeds go up, so does the pressure on workers to process animals more quickly. At chicken and turkey slaughterhouses, increased speeds result in rougher handling of the birds, with workers slamming them into shackles, breaking their delicate legs and wings, and improperly stunning and bleeding them so they are boiled alive. For larger animals like pigs and cows, workers often use forceful methods to get them moving – sometimes by dragging, beating, frightening, or electrocuting them.
IMPACTS HUMANS, TOO
As line speeds increase, more workers are needed to process the higher volume of animals and their body parts. This prevents workers from adequately social-distancing and makes it all but certain they will contract and spread COVID-19 in these virus hotspots. Ongoing slaughterhouse outbreaks have been disastrous for both animals and workers, yet USDA and meat companies are failing to adequately respond.
TRYING TO HELP
Thankfully, several federal lawmakers have taken notice of USDA’s blatant refusal to do anything to ameliorate the situation. The agency’s priority is clearly to protect the meat companies—not the workers, and certainly not the animals. So, earlier this year, Representative Marcia Fudge and Senator Cory Booker introduced legislation designed to force USDA’s hand—to make sure the agency actually does the right thing and prioritizes the health and welfare of workers and animals over the industry’s already well-lined pockets.
However, that bill would have only temporarily stemmed the tide of a deregulatory process that has been decades in the making, fueled by the meat industry’s incessant pressure on USDA to allow it to operate its slaughterhouses at faster and faster speeds. To counteract the message of powerful industry lobbyists, your elected officials need to hear from you on this issue!
Congress has given the USDA clear instructions to provide for the humane handling of animals at the slaughterhouse. Yet, by reducing federal oversight and eliminating caps on line speeds, the USDA has unlawfully put industry profits above its statutory obligations.
Legal Counsel for Animal Equality