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February 12, 2014

72 Members of Congress Urge USDA to Ban Slaughter of Downer Calves

Animals Unable to Stand Should Not Go into Food Supply

Following a recent slaughter plant shutdown triggered by a Humane Society of the United States investigation, a bipartisan group of 72 Members of Congress led by Representatives Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., are calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to close a loophole in federal regulations that allows downer calves – those too sick, injured, weak, or tired to stand on their own – to be slaughtered for food, and encourages abuse as workers try to get the animals to stand for inspection.

Last year, the USDA granted a 2009 HSUS legal petition requesting an end to the inhumane practice of slaughtering downer veal calves, consistent with the agency’s rule for adult downer cattle, but USDA has not yet moved forward on this.

The congressional letter states: “[M]ore than four years have passed since HSUS requested this common-sense change, yet not even a proposed rule has been issued….  Keeping disabled calves alive to suffer in pens is not only inhumane but also poses serious food safety threats.”

“USDA should not tolerate the abuse of any downed animals, including calves,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO for The HSUS. “The HSUS has now exposed cruelty to downer calves in two investigations, and it’s past time for the agency to take action to close this loophole.  We commend the 72 members of Congress who join us in demanding USDA address this serious livestock handling issue.”


Media Contact: Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1518 

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