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November 2, 2009

USDA Oversight Reforms Urged in Wake of Bushway Packing Investigation

The Humane Society of the United States

The HSUS urges the USDA to adopt the following reforms immediately to prevent the type of cruelty documented in our investigation of the Bushway Packing, Inc., slaughter plant in Grand Isle, Vt.

  • Close loophole that allows slaughter of downer calves.
  • End transport of live baby calves to slaughter plants; USDA should prohibit their transport prior to 10 days of age, similar to EU regulations.
  • Encourage inspectors to report humane handling violations.
  • Establish ombudsman office to ensure that inspectors can carry out their responsibilities without undue interference.
  • Restore prior system for documenting egregious humane handling violations via Noncompliance Reports that become part of computerized data base, not just via faxed Memoranda of Interview.
  •  Improve inspector training on humane handling requirements.
  • Expand inspector presence for continuous observation of live animals – at all times, an inspector should be observing each stunning area and another inspector (or more, depending on the volume of animals) should be observing handling as animals are offloaded and moved through pens and chutes.
  • Require immediate and humane euthanasia of all downed animals; if they must be moved prior to euthanasia, require that they first be rendered unconscious.
  • Explicitly prohibit specific egregious acts on any disabled or injured animal, including forceful striking with an object, dragging, ramming with machinery, and use of electric shock, water pressure, or other extreme methods.
  • If USDA opts to implement agency-conducted video surveillance, this should be considered supplemental to live inspector real-time observation, and video footage should be preserved to allow for forensic review. 
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