Coalition to USDA: Step Up Enforcement for Farm Animals

Pigs in a slaughterhouse holding pen.

Pigs in a slaughterhouse holding pen.

By Bruce Friedrich, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Earlier this month, Farm Sanctuary joined forces with five other nonprofits — Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion Over Killing, Farm Forward, Mercy for Animals, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — in submitting a 38-page petition for rulemaking to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), calling on the Agency to stop almost entirely ignoring the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (HMSA).

We did this because the HMSA is grossly neglected by the agency charged with enforcing it, so that animals are being tortured in U.S. slaughterhouses, even though there are USDA inspectors on site who could stop it. This petition is focused on stopping illegal cruelty, and does not imply that there is any such thing as “humane slaughter” — we see those terms as inherently contradictory.

Our petition asks that:

  • USDA’s definition of “egregious” as applied to the HMSA be codified in regulation;
  • USDA ensure that all violations of HMSA result in at least a “Noncompliance Record” (NR) to document the violation;
  • USDA ensure that all egregious violations of HMSA result in at least a plant suspension;
  • USDA refer reckless and intentional cruelty for criminal prosecution;
  • USDA create a structure for closing down the worst slaughterhouses completely.

We are making these recommendations because:

  • Undercover investigations have documented almost unfathomable abuse at USDA-inspected slaughterhouses, abuse that was not caught or cited by USDA’s inspectors in the plants in question.
  • USDA’s own OIG and the Government Accountability Office have both consistently documented lax enforcement of the HMSA, and they have called for USDA to do better. But the agency has not improved.
  • FOIA records from USDA document workers running over crippled animals with construction equipment and electrocuting them in their genitals and anuses, animals running around the slaughter floor with massive head wounds, animals regaining consciousness mid-slaughter, and plants that continue to operate even after being cited many times for inhumane slaughter.

Although our requests involve only small changes to current FSIS policy, they will significantly improve compliance with the mandates of the HMSA if implemented.

You can read the full petition here.

Cow's eyes

A cow looks out from a transport vehicle.

43 thoughts on “Coalition to USDA: Step Up Enforcement for Farm Animals

  1. Why can’t we make their lives a little better…are humans so callous and uncaring…,so sad what this world has become

    • yes, so sad and heartbreaking what this world has become. To hurt and cause suffering to vulnerable, precious farm animals and ALL animals. I’m ashamed to call myself human when I see the horrible things that humans do to innocent animals.

  2. I want to see the strongest possible animal protection laws in place for ALL animals, including livestock of all kinds.

  3. Please consider the rights of animals to be treated humanely! Thank you!
    The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
    Mahatma Gandhi

    • Animal abuse is illegal… All animal suffering is illegal. It is not food, it is violence

  4. I’m glad to see this long overdue action taken by the 6 NPOs collectively. The HMSA is almost a joke in and of itself, but it is indeed a farce given the absence of proper USDA oversight within the heinous slaughterhouses. Of course, who could expect any true compliance, when the USDA has been “in bed” with the meat-and-dairy industries for so many years — looking the other way instead of enforcing the intended provisions of the HMSA?

  5. I never really thought about farm animals until I moved to Pittsboro, NC. (2 yrs ago). Fearrington has Galloway cows (black/white); same for goats & just have added black & white chickens. I love cows now! All cows should be treated well (all animals, period!) They don’t hurt you. They just want to live as we humans do.


  7. We in USA need change in the way we raise farm animals, this is just a small list of what goes on at these factory farms, we need stricter regulations to help these poor creatures:
    Animals can have their testicles, tails, horns, beaks, or toes removed without anesthesia.
    Animals are intensively confined in spaces so small they cannot turn around, extend their wings, or lie down comfortably, as in gestation crates, veal crates, and battery cages.
    Ducks are cruelly force-fed, to the point of organ failure, in the production of foie gras.
    Hens are systematically starved in order to artificially re-start their egg-laying cycles.
    Male chicks are ground up alive, and piglets are killed by slamming their heads on the ground.
    Calves can be taken away from their mothers, mere moments after birth, causing distress for both. Calves raised for veal are so severely confined

    • After seeing/hearing the horrific treatment of livestock over two decades ago, I became a vegan. I was stuck for a while as a vegetarian–cheese was still too tempting. But after seeing the videos of downer cows, that did it (plus anti-biotic issues, other diseases, etc.). I’ve been a vegan at home for 20 years now. When I go to friends’ homes for large dinners, often meat is served. I don’t push it away or make a scene, but in conversations, I bring up how easy it is nowadays to maintain a vegan diet and stay healthy. My protein intake is plenty. I was taking a supplement for B-12, but my latest blood tests show my B12 levels are at the top of the scales–I intend to cut back or cut out entirely.
      Thank goodness for all the nonprofits listed who are pressing this issue. In the meantime, for animals and the planet, try going vegan.

  8. I am so sick of animal abuse and torture, and knowing there are inspectors watching the horrific abuse and will not do anything about it!! IT IS DISGUSTING TO KNOW THIS IS HAPPENING!! NOW IS TIME TO PUT AN END TO ANIMAL ABUSE AND TORTURE AND TIME TO TAKE A STAND TO SUPPORT ANIMALS!!!

  9. Factory farming is torture! The USDA; the meat, dairy and egg industries (big-Ag); and meat-eating humans look the other way while animals, sentient, emotion-feeling, pain-feeling animals are subjected to inhumane treatment and torture. “If slaughterhouses had glass walls…..” Shame on us for continuing this barbaric treatment, shame on us for looking the other way, shame on us for passing/attempting to pass bills that punish whistle blowers, shame on us for not doing enough. Please consider another way, for the safety, security and humanity of ALL species.

  10. I would like to ask anyone reading this to GO VEGAN! That is the ONLY way to TRULY STOP these horrific abuses! If you do-you save the lives of hundreds of animals each year! There are millions of vegans, many athletes and celebrities, many countries and religions that are vegan. It is the healthiest diet ever!
    Not only is it good for YOUR health and the well-being of animals-it’s also the best way to help protect our environment, our water, land and air! Factory “farms” as major polluters and produce more methane than all our transportation combined! Also we could feed millions of people with the grains we feed animals for food and the amount of water & land needed to raise these animals is much more than the actual quantity of “food” you get from that animal-it is NOT sustainable, NOT efficient, NOT moral and certainly unethical!
    There are SO many alternatives these days, it is so easy and even Walmart has alternatives to “meat”! Try NOT eating animal products at least one day a week and than add another day-take baby steps-BUT for the animal’s sake, your health and the environment and for GOD’s sake-GO VEGAN!!! Make that a NEW lifestyle and begin 2016 experiencing the awesome choices of a plant-based diet!!
    You’ll be amazed how great you feel and look!!
    You’ll also have peace of mind knowing YOU are NOT a part of this evil against innocent, wonderful animals!!

    • There will always be the demand for meat and dairy no matter how many people go Vegan. These USDA Inspectors need to do their jobs. Why does it take a petition? Sometimes I feel embarrassed to be human.

  11. PLEASE consider the lives of the creatures with feeling and emotions! Just because they don’t feel in the exact way that we do, doesn’t mean that thy don’t matter.

  12. This must not continue its cruel and we could do this in a better way stop the abuse and neclect of these creatures they are living creatures and deserve better than this.your whole system needs changed.

  13. There are video’s of this abuse. Why are these facilities still operating? USDA is a joke. These inspectors should be jailed or at least fired. Why are there even inspectors if they can’t even do their job? Is there a pay off that is a big enough incentive for them to keep quiet?? This abuse to Farm animals is a disgrace . Get people that will do the job and not be silenced with a pay off.

  14. The people involved in this cruelty need to be jailed for life…it needs to stop now. If this happened to a human every one would be in an uproar. …well these animals have a beating heart a nervous system and feel exactly what we feel. They are as human as us, with young crying for their mothers and mothers fearing for their calves. How do you sleep at night knowing you are committing murder.

    • I agree Janelle, I can’t believe that anyone would stand by and allow these things to happen.

  15. I am so disgusted with this country’s lack of protection for all animals, farm, wild, or domestic. We have no authority to stop cruelty. The USDA does nothing!

  16. I do not support the slaughter of any animal but why does it have to be done so inhumanely? These animals do not have to suffer and be abused with no supervision . Laws must be put in place to at least treat these poor scared animals that just wanted to live their lives with some respect and caring before they are slaughtered and then eaten. Why do we have to make it even more miserable for them? We are already taking their lives. Please do not make them suffer like they are nothing and don’t feel the pain and betrayal of mankind. Enforce the proper way to do this – there is no supervision at all; doesn’t anybody care about their pain?

  17. The people involved in this cruelty need to be jailed for life…it needs to stop now. If this happened to a human every one would be in an uproar. …well these animals have a beating heart a nervous system and feel exactly what we feel. They are as human as us, with young crying for their mothers and mothers fearing for their calves. How do you sleep at night knowing you are committing murder.

  18. I agree with these comments. Cruelty to living sentient beings is unconscionable. The world has become almost to cruel to live in.

  19. I recently watched a video from Mercy for Animals and was so sickened by the cruelty and conditions that these beautiful,smart and affectionate animals deal
    with every minute of every day.I am so glad I am vegetarian but so much
    more needs to be done.

  20. These animals are sensitive and have feelings just like our cats and dogs. Please help them. Thank you

  21. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    Sadly the US and many other countries are lacking greatness. Compassion and the welfare of all animals needs to be improved. Animals are living beings and deserve to be treated as such.

  22. It is unbelievable that we as human beings can be so cruel to even hurt poor defenseless animals. There needs to be consequences for such cruelty. These places don’t want us to see this because it’s all about the mighty dollar. They could care less about whether these animals are treated inhumanly. Unfortunately I’m sorry to say I’m a part of the human race.

  23. It’s bad enough that we kill them so that we could eat them. There’s no need to be cruel as well.