A few weeks ago, I was “fortunate” enough to attend a meeting of the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission. This group, drafted in 2010 by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, is charged with creating “recommendations” that are presented to a subcommittee in the Kentucky House of Representatives, before passing to the Senate and Governor. The group consists of about fifteen members including representative Tom McKee (Democrat, District 78), some veterinarians, and a slew of people who are actively involved in farming or farming groups in Kentucky, including representatives of the bovine, poultry, and sheep industries. While one would think this makes a lot of sense – who better to know about the animals than those who raise them? – as it turns out, the animals’ “well-being” often comes second to profit, easy, and “business as usual” on the farm.
My partner has created a petition that will be delivered to some members of the group at their meeting next week, July 17, at 1:00pm. If you live near Frankfort and have any interest in how the food system in Kentucky works, I highly recommend you attend this meeting – it’s boring, shocking, weird, and not designed for the general public. In fact the first meeting of the group was re-scheduled when the Humane Society filed a complaint saying they didn’t even tell anyone about it!
The Humane Society’s main qualms are the following:
Two of the most obvious areas where the draft standards fall short are those permitting veal calves to be confined in crates that virtually immobilize the calves and those permitting dairy producers to routinely amputate cows’ tails (tail docking) without pain killers. Both of these practices are opposed by the American Veterinary Medical Association and were recently prohibited—with phase-outs—by a similar livestock board in Ohio. Tail docking is banned in several nations and opposed by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the American Veal Association’s board of directors has unanimously recommended phasing out crate confinement of veal calves.
As someone who’s watched the farmers debate these “standards,” I can tell you they won’t be removing this language easily. They argue and bicker over words like “welfare” and “pain,” while leaving out any notion that animals can feel pain in any realm but the physical. While my stance is to boycott these industries by not buying their products, many of accurately pointed out that the animals in cages need help now. Let’s tell this committee, and our representatives, that animals do feel pain, both physical and emotional, and it’s not fair to condemn our state’s livestock to poor, profit-driven standards. Please sign the petition below, and visit this Humane Society page to contact members of the commission directly.
Note: the meeting on July 17 at 1:00pm is held at the following location: Office of the State Veterinarian 100 Fair Oaks Lane, Suite 252 Frankfort, KY 40601
Photo: Farm Sanctuary Facebook