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Who is to Blame?

Story ID:5317
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various usa
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Just as many of us were appalled that some of the bank bail out money was
used to give CEOs and other "deserving" bank employees raises - this sadly
seems to be a way of life for too many Americans. Because of the allure of
money - we have done unscrupulous things in not only banking, but housing,
stocks, etc. Why are we so selfish and greedy? Didn't our parents, teachers,
and churches teach us to be honest, ethical, and caring? I truly wonder where
we can lay the blame. Anybody have any ideas?

I have for a long time felt the USDA, the FDA and other facets of government
are also not beyond reproach -neglecting to do what was their original purposes
for one thing. Today I received The Humane Farming Association's newsletter
revealing shameful misuse of USDA funds to stop the cruel slaughtering practices
in our slaugherhouses.

The article which caught my attention read "From Whitehouse to Slaughterhouse -
to Courthouse. HFA Puts Promise of "Transparency" to the Test."

HFA was the first to reveal that farm animals in our slaugherhouses are often
dismembered while still alive. I was horrified when I first read this and can't
believe that we can be so cruel. But sadly we are. The Washington Post wrote
about HFA's groundbreaking investigations ("They Die Piece by Piece") and this
resulted in a great deal of media attention. Sadly, it would seem little else-
with the exception of Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) who sprang into action on the
congressional floor with an impassioned speech. He said "Federal law is being
ignored...It is sickening and infuriating. The barbaric treatment of helpless,
defenseless creatures must not be tolerated. Life must be respected and dealt
with humanely in a civilized society."

I believe this address was made in 2002 or 3 because I included it in my homespun
book (Blame it on Peaches) which was published in 2003. I was so proud of this
man for his compassionate stance, and when he confronted the USDA re this-
they claimed there was not enough money to oversee the slaughtering practices
over the nation. So the US Senate then appropriatedd $1 million into the USDA's
budget for enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act at the country's 900
slaughterhouses. Imagine- this was the first funding allocated to enforce the
humane slaughter regulations. Passing a law should require oversight and
money if needed.

Later Senator Byrd - prompted by the HFA saw to an annual increase of 5 million
dollars for this purpose. At this time he noted "USDA now has the capability to
take action to reduce this disgusting cruelty." You would think so-wouldn't you?

But I guess- knowing of how the USDA operated in other animal-related
circumstances, I should not have been surprised when I read the HFA's new
findings: "Not wanting its inspectors to "impede" production by enforcing federal
law, USDA failed to use the new appropriation to station meat inspectors in the
areas of slaughterhouses where they could view live animals being mishandled
and killed. Instead, USDA established 17 NEW VETERINARY POSTIONS. These
USDA veterinarians were stationed - not in slaughterhouses - but in USDA field
offices were they would have no direct oversight of slaughter practices. Worse
still- these new veterinarians ended up spending most of their time conducting
tasks unrelated to humane slaughter - CONTRARY TO THE PURPOSE OF THE

My first thought was - shouldn't this be against the law? Shouldn't the USDA
officials responsible for this blatant ignoring of the appropriation money's purpose
be fired?

HFA did notify Senator Byrd who demanded that these new USDA personnel
limit their work to the enforcement of the Humane Slaugher Act. HFA also
contacted the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and according to them-
nearly a year and a half after these 17 vets were hired, some hadn't visited
their assigned plants even once.

HFA also filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the USDA asking for
all official email correspondence from these vets during a six-month period so
that governmment information be made available to the public.

Not surprisingly- the the USDA is stonewalling HFA's requests to turn over
documents in this regard. Failing to get the requested information, HFA's legal
team has notified USDA of its intent to file a lawsuit to compel the release of the
slaughterhouse-related documents. Reading this -I couldn't help but wonder -
what kind of government do we really have? A branch of it is ignoring a law
(Humane Slaughter Law) as well refusing to use the funds for the purpose
appropriated - overseeing the slaughter lines for lack of humane slaughtering

I hope anybody who is as angry as I am will do any or all of these 3 things:

1. Contact President Obama and ask him how committed he is to "transparency."
The USDA is certainly failing in this regard -ignoring HFA's requested emails
re the new veterinarians' work which SHOULD be involved with halting the
unconscionable live deaths of our food animals and apparently is not. What will
he do about this? Does he care that animals are slaughtered "piece by piece?"
Shouldn't we all care?

2. Make a donation to Humane Farming if you are abhorent of the facts revealed
by HFA re the all too common cruel slaughtering practices in our slaughterhouses.
I am grateful to HFA for keeping on this subject which years ago should have been
taken care of by officials of compassion and was not. Innocent animals are not only
giving up their lives for your steaks and hamburgers but are doing so in a most
horrible and cruel way. Yes, my use of "your" was intentional. Some of us don't
eat meat. (Humane Farming is on the internet.)

3. Thank Senator Byrd for being it seems the lone voice in this regard- though the
Senate did agree to his appropriation requests in this regard. Ask him to do what
he can to stop the ignoring mandates of the Humane Slaughtering Act as well as
the wrong use of the funds allocated for this purpose. Also remind him of the
"transparency" promise of this Democratic president. This cruelty should be
brought to his attention.