US Pig Slaughterhouses Can Now Kill Animals As Fast As They Want
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed regulations to allow pig slaughterhouses to kill animals as fast as they want.
Passed under the Trump administration, the regulation change will also see fewer USDA government inspectors in slaughterhouses. Instead, regulation will be managed by private employees.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue made a statement which frames the changes as part of a modernization process.
“This regulatory change allows us to ensure food safety while eliminating outdated rules and allowing for companies to innovate,” it reads.
Previous US governments have prevented these very same changes from being made, citing that more research was needed in order to ensure that such regulations would be safe for consumers — still a concern for some.
“Trump’s USDA is clearly prioritizing the meat industry’s interests against the will of the American people, and in doing so, is wreaking havoc on public health,” Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said in an email to Detroit News.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also weighed in, calling the deregulations a “total abdication of government responsibility and increases the potential for egregious violations of humane slaughter laws.”
Speed In Slaughterhouses: What’s The Problem?
The regulatory changes were made to increase profits for companies by upping production and reducing inspections — an approach which further compromises not only the welfare of animals but workers.
Former wool and beef worker turned vegan activist and agriculture student Alex Gatto MacDonald took the time to discuss the implications of high-speed slaughter and animal exploitation with Raise Vegan.
“In these farm business, the desire is to work as quickly as possible to maximize profit,” she said.
“The issue is, when you are most concerned with speed, obviously any concern for humane standards goes down exponentially.”
She detailed how quotas in the wool industry turn sheep shearing, a process which in theory could be relatively harmless, into an act of violence.
“In commercial farms, like what I experienced, the shearing is done absolutely as quickly as possible and that leaves the sheep extremely bloodied, sometimes cut so badly that they have to be sewn up by the shearer,” she said.
“People are expected to get them moving as quickly as possible onto the next phase. And they’ll do that by any means necessary, whether that’s grabbing them by the legs, or the ears, or the head or kicking them or punching them– whatever it may be to keep things going as quickly as possible.”
Gatto MacDonald shared how high-speed processing in the beef industry has a similar effect, detailing the violence she witnessed when a calf slowed a day’s work.
“We were just expected to punch him in the head, electrocute him with cattle prods — do whatever we could to make him move as quickly as possible. “
She also explained that animals aren’t the only ones impacted by increased quotas and faster processing times.
“We also know that when machines, factories and farms are moving at a faster rate, the rate of injuries for workers goes way up,” she said.
“I experienced that myself.”
At the end of the day, she says the implications are clear.
“Overall, any time you have speed, the standards for the animals and the standards for the workers are pretty much guaranteed to go down.”
What do you think of these new regulations? Let us know in the comments below!