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USDA Uses “Demand” to Justify Intensive Confinement of Farm Animals

April 14, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

In a speech on climate change at Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Tom Vilsack, defended the intensive confinement of farm animals on the grounds of demand, saying “the market has been encouraging [farmers] to do that.” He also stated unequivocally that abuse on factory farms is the exception, not the norm, in spite of the fact that confinement is, in and of itself, abusive and that animal mutilation is standard practice on industrialized farms.

USDA versus animal rights activists

Animal rights activist Zach Groff confronts USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

Mr. Vilsack made the remarks in response to the following question posed by animal rights activist and Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) organizer Zach Groff: “You are on the record supporting more subsidies for animal agriculture, defending animal agriculture left and right whether it goes for pink slime or keeping animal products in the [government’s] nutritional guidelines. Everyone in this room knows that animal agriculture is devastating for forests, for the climate, for the water supply. But most ignored is that there are innocent animals who are routinely the victims of horrendous violence. And I want to ask you – why do you support horrendous violence against innocent animals?”

After Mr. Vilsack addressed Mr. Groff’s remarks, categorically denying the inherent cruelty of animal agriculture, DxE activists disrupted the event, chanting “It’s not food. It’s violence” as they exited the auditorium.

Brian Burns, a DxE spokesperson said, “Tom Vilsack is dangerous. His carefully crafted messages about built-in animal protections and his sympathetic tone belie the fact that he is subsidizing the country’s most violent industry with our tax dollars. And his lies about animal agriculture, which must sound compelling to those who are uninformed, serve to marginalize the activists who are fighting to end the cruelty.”

Tom Vilsack

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

DxE activists disrupt USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack after he minimized animal abuse on factory farms

DxE activists disrupt USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack after he minimized animal abuse on factory farms

Activists say that Mr. Vilsack is the American version of Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s Minster of Agriculture who notoriously works to convince the public that the millions of sheep and cattle who are abused and tortured in his country’s live export trade are treated “humanely in almost every instance.”

Has Australia's Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce met his match?

Has Australia’s Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce met his match?

DxE is growing rapidly. In the 1.5 years since launching the “It’s not food. It’s violence” campaign, the organization has added chapters in 110 cities in 24 countries, including India, Bolivia, Romania, Indonesia and the Republic of Georgia. Following is short video highlighting their recent non-violent direct actions.

Your Turn

Please visit Direct Action Everywhere to learn about, support and/or join the organization’s ground-breaking campaign to expose animal cruelty in the very spots where it is taking place.



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TheirTurn.net Comments

  1. Tricia Panitz says:

    Al Smith – Where is this college sanctuary? Does it provide adequate space for the animals or are they crowded together? Not all sanctuaries are wonderful.

    Your basic premise is that since chickens are violent we are justified in abusing them. Humans are also violent to each other and other species – so according to your logic abuse of humans is also justified.

    1. al smith says:

      As I said they were free range ..did you read that part.. they were crowded together but that is because that is what chickens do.. even if they have all of the room in the world which is what I assume you think they need or want because you can “see it in their eyes”. They were free FREE FREE to kill each other and fight each other which is what roosters do on a routine basis after they kill the other one they rest eat the remains.. yum chickens having chicken.. their favorite meal.. why is it ok form chickens to eat chickens but not for man to eat chickens.. chickens would certainly eat man if given the chance

      1. Tricia Panitz says:

        You didn’t answer my questions. Where is the college sanctuary? And since people are violent does this justify abusing them, as you claim that it’s alright to abuse chickens since they are violent?

  2. al smith says:

    “Chickens are not normally violent; it depends upon how they are raised and treated. At sanctuaries such as United Poultry Concerns where they are treated well and gently, the birds calm and gentle. ” oh BS I went to a college sanctuary the other day.. chickens free ranging.. and dust bathing and all of the things you think are so cute.. two chickens we penned up.. why the other chickens had plucked out all of the tail feathers of the rooster.. and the hen had no feathers at all on her neck due to the others “hen pecking” her..chickens are naturally violent toward each other and other fowl and animals as well..

  3. Natasha Brenner says:

    Chickens act that way because they are treated with such disdain for compassion that they become
    violent, no different from humans in intolerable situations. You expect them tp be docile and peaceful in
    their environment? Chickens, or any animals, man included, treated humanely will react in a peaceful way. It has been shown that chickens are intelligent and make great pets. You have an uneducated and narrow view!

    1. al smith says:

      you have no idea why chickens act that way NONE get it.. you have no way of knowing what chickens think .. only what you think they think and that is hardly the same. Throw an egg down to any chicken .. or a piece of chicken and watch how fast it is eaten..little “Paprika” isa only a few generations away from a prehistoric raptor. They are not “docile and peaceful” in any environment if you allow then be chickens instead of some sort of misguided “pets” that you think they are.

  4. Simon W says:

    I agree with you Jo, it would be good to get rid of those two. The problem is, the people who’d replace them are no better, just clones with a similar morally stunted,selfish mentality. In Australia’s case, Joyce will go when the present government goes, and he’ll be replaced by a little grub of a man who’s almost as bad, Joel Fitzgibbon.

  5. Jo Ardell says:

    It would be good, for the Animals sake, if Tom Vilsack, and Barnaby Joyce, were outed from their positions, and replaced with someone who would take ethics and humane treatment of Animals to heart! It is quite clear, that neither of them, intend to ever make life any better, for the Animals, who suffer so much! It is so tragic that money and profits, seem to be of more immediate importance, than sparing Animals, misery, pain, and suffering. They want and demand, everything, they can get, from each Animal, but are not willing, to offer a decent life, or for that matter, even a humane death, to these Poor Animals. This is nothing, to be proud of, but rather, to be ashamed of!

  6. Tracy B says:

    Mr. Vilsack lies. He says the USDA adheres to the Animal Welfare Act. That is false. According to ALDF, (and many other animal welfare nonprofits) “no federal law governs the conditions in which farm animals are raised. In addition, most states exempt farm animals from their anti-cruelty laws.” He also lies when he says that raising chickens to be so big they can barely support their own weight and that their beaks are clipped are the exception, not the rule. But these are Common Farming Exemptions (CFE) that have been in practice for decades and (according to Jonathan Safran Foer in Eating Animals, an excellent book) CFE “make legal any method of raising farmed animals so long as it is commonly practiced within the industry.” Foer continues, (and this is an important point) “In other words, farmers — corporations is the right word — have the power to define cruelty.” Vilsack then puts the blame for all this on the backs of consumers and vaguely leads us to believe that regulations are changing for the better due to consumer demand…But small farms have virtually been wiped out and animal agriculture is the largest cause of rising Co2 and climate change. His whole comment, delivered in such a calm and straightforward manner, bespeaks Upton Sinclair’s famous quote: “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on him not understanding it.” Seems that Vilsack fits this to a T. Such doublespeak is truly Orwellian.

    1. al smith says:

      what is your job? do you have one? do you depend upon money for your survival? how very Orwellian of you

    2. al smith says:

      you know who lies.. anyone who says a chicken is as important as a child and anyone who claims to know what a chicken thinks. There is no way for a human animal to know what a fowl thinks.. none.

      1. Donny Moss says:

        If we don’t know what chickens think, then shouldn’t we err on the side of caution and not slice off their beaks, confine them in battery cages and slit their throats? Perhaps they are thinking that they don’t want to be locked up, mutilated and killed.

        1. al smith says:

          Chickens are violent toward each other they kill each other routinely and then eat the dead bodies including the bones
          . Roosters fight to the death. Chickens are violent.

          1. Jess says:

            So, because a species has the capacity to be cruel, we have the right to treat it cruelly?

            That’s a great reason why humans deserve the right to live without the threat of violence. We humans are never ever violent toward each other or routinely kill each other. Cannibalism isn’t a word because it has never happened.

          2. Tricia Panitz says:

            Chickens are not normally violent; it depends upon how they are raised and treated. At sanctuaries such as United Pooultry Concerns where they are treated well and gently, the birds calm and gentle. In facotry farm situations where they are treated brutally and violently, they become violent. In this they behave very much like people, and many other species of animal.
            Interesting how humans brutalize animals for their own convenience and then blame the animals for being brutal and violent.
            Also, even if animals were naturally violent, this still doesn’t condone animal abuse.

  7. al smith says:

    Their eggs not ours LOL they eat their own eggs and are happy to do it..they will also kill and eat another chicken with no “hard feelings” it should be “they are food and they are violent”

  8. john says:

    YEA!!! These animal activist are my HEROS!!!!

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