Pfizer to expand genetic testing, other areas of animal health business to combat rivals

By LINDA A. JOHNSON , Associated Press

NEW YORK - Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest seller of drugs for people, now is looking to make more bucks from Fido, Fifi and farm animals.

The company is developing drugs for new animal diseases, pushing into the growing market for pet medicine in emerging markets and working with livestock farmers to use its genetic tests to reduce costs and produce top-quality meat.

Despite that strategy, Pfizer will be bumped from its position as the top animal health company by revenue when a planned joint venture of rivals gets approved by regulators, probably early next year. Merck & Co. and Sanofi-Aventis SA are combining their animal health businesses into what will be called Merial-Intervet. It is expected to initially have about 28 percent of the $19 billion-a-year global animal health market...

Read more at Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Also read:
CAFOs and Public Health: The Fate of Unabsorbed Antibiotics

CAFOs and Public Health: The Issue of Antibiotic Resistance


Groundwater tainted by U.S. agribusiness

By Erica Gies

I recently traveled to California’s Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions the world has ever seen, and the source of much of the food that you and I eat.

Unfortunately this bounty comes at a high cost to the people who grow and harvest our food — a cost that may impact many more of us soon. The problem is groundwater pollution. Fertilizer and pesticide runoff from irrigated fields, animal waste from dairy farms and concentrated animal-feeding operations can poison drinking water.

I visited the town of Seville, which farm workers have called home for four generations. About 500 people live there now, and most adults still work in the fields. In 2008 the town’s only drinking water source tested positive for nitrates.

Nitrates are a byproduct of the nitrogen fertilizers that help American farmers bring in bumper crops. But when those crops can’t absorb all the fertilizer applied, the excess flows into groundwater via irrigation runoff. Nitrate-contaminated drinking water can poison pregnant women and babies. It inhibits a baby’s ability to absorb oxygen into its blood, which can cause it to suffocate and die. This condition is known as blue baby syndrome. Nitrate pollution has also been linked to cancer and to spleen and kidney disease...

The Philadelphia Tribune

Also read:
The Possibility for Reducing Water Pollution Resulting from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and the Impact of Phytase

CAFOs and Public Health: Pathogens and Manure


Farmers Fear Dust Rules Won't Reflect Rural Life

By RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — As they begin the fall harvest, wary farmers are watching a federal debate over whether to clamp down on one of rural life's constant companions — the dust clouds that farm machinery kick up in fields and along unpaved roads.

Farming groups have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retain its current standards for dust, soot and other microscopic particles, arguing that tighter restrictions would be unworkable and that dust isn't a real pollutant.

Grain farmer Charles Schmitt, who farms about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans near the southwestern Indiana town of Haubstadt, called the possibility of tougher rules on dust "ridiculous"...


Read: CAFOs and Community Conflict: Understanding Community Conflict


It Could Happen Here...

Wis. DNR: Stay away from Jackson County dam!

Sept. 24, 2010
BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The Wisconsin DNR is urging residents to use caution around a Jackson County dam that no longer has a protective barrier due to heavy rains and flooding.

The DNR says the steel cable and float markers that warn boaters near the Hatfield Dam on Lake Arbutus have washed away.

The DNR discourages boating, or any other water activities during flooding events. The water can be contaminated with pollutants, including bacteria, manure and pesticides.

The water also contains floating debris, which can be dangerous to boaters and others on the water.


The Curse of Factory Farms

"Factory farms have become the dominant method of raising meat in America. Agribusiness loves the apparent efficiency that comes with raising thousands of animals in a single large building where they are permanently confined in stalls or pens. Most of the human labor can be automated. It takes less land, because the animals live cheek by jowl their entire lives. And it allows the concentration of enormous stocks of animals in the hands of a few corporations whose goal is usually complete vertical integration -- the control of production from birth through butchering and packaging.

"These plants, called confined animal feeding operations, or CAFO's, now exist in 44 states. The question is how to minimize their harmful environmental effects and prevent them from putting a final squeeze on smaller farmers, especially those who raise animals in more traditional, grass-based ways.

Factory farms have taken root mainly where zoning laws were lax or nonexistent, or in states where citizens were prevented from filing suits against agricultural operations. The inevitable byproduct of huge concentrations of animals is huge concentrations of manure, which is stored in open lagoons and eventually sprayed on farmland, though there is usually far more manure than local fields can absorb. In such quantities, manure becomes a toxic substance. Spills are always a risk, as is groundwater contamination. The bigger danger is airborne contamination of water from ammonia, which rises from the lagoons and falls into low-lying rivers and estuaries..."

Read more @ New York Times


Come Speak Out Against Taxpayer Subsidized Factory Farm Expansion in Wisconsin!

Click here for Family Farm Defenders web site


Come Speak Out Against Taxpayer Subsidized Factory Farm Expansion in Wisconsin!

JOIN US at the World Dairy Expo in Madison in this media event to publicize the dire situation of many family farmers in the State. The first Annual Wisconsin "Land of 10,000 Lagoon” Awards to the Worst Violators of the Public Trust and Ecological Stewardship in the State will be presented.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 at 4:00 P.M.

WHERE: Main Entrance to Alliant Energy Center (just off the Madison beltline on Rimrock Road/Cty MM near the corner with John Nolen Dr.)


To register to speak please contact:

John E. Peck , Family Farm Defenders #608-260-0900
Jennifer Nelson, Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, 608-476-2301, jenelson7@centurytel.net

Edie Ehlert, Crawford Stewardship Project, 608-734-3223, edieehlert@centurytel.net


Economic downturn drains Western Pennsylvania dairy farmers

"Western Pennsylvania farmers trying to earn a living raising cattle or producing milk were hurt by a plunge in exports to other states and overseas when the world economy went into recession, state agriculture experts say..."



DATCP board hears budget and livestock siting concerns

Members of the board of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) heard public testimony on raw milk and livestock siting issues during the Sept. 8, 2010 board meeting in Madison....

...Raw milk and livestock siting were topics addressed by speakers during the public appearance segment of the DATCP board meeting.

John Peck, Baraboo, a raw milk advocate, wanted to address livestock siting because he was concerned about “liability and remedy.

“By taking away local control, the state assumes responsibility for cleanups resulting from abandoned livestock facilities. In Iowa when you apply for a permit you have to put money into a clean-up fund,” he said.

DATCP’s Richard Castelnuovo said the siting rule prohibits bonding. He also reminded the board that “Sept. 11, 2001, changed the bonding market.”

Board member Mike Krutza pointed out “clean up losses are often borne by lenders.”

Kara Slaughter, representing Wisconsin Farmers Union, had a six-page handout for board members that included her testimony.

While the DATCP has two committees reviewing technical standards in the siting rule, Slaughter emphasized “there is nothing in Wisconsin statute 93.90 or ATCP 51 that prohibits DATCP from reviewing the full rule in the course of this four-year review process. DATCP does not need any special grant of authority to review or revise its own rules.

“DATCP can re-do anything DATCP wrote,” she said, adding “I think the rules are at the edges of what the law does.”

Board member Dick Cates said, “It is our obligation as a board to look at all we can. After four years of learning, ironically, we may be undermining the rule because a lot of the public does not agree with the rule.”

Jennifer Nelson, Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, urged that an “independent committee study the impacts of the law and related DATCP policies on local government. These results should be compared with the standards for the rules as defined in the law and should recommend procedures to deal with those which are not covered by the technical committee.”

Board member Dick Cates said the Raw Milk Committees have two more meetings scheduled. “I believe members are coming together with a plan the legislature just might approve. It’s a hopeful process n I see a lot of coming together across the industry,” he noted.

Source: Agri-View:


Iowans to DNR: Just Say No To Scott County Factory Farm

We are witnessing a massive recall of eggs infected with salmonella - eggs produced from factory farms right here in Iowa. I am not surprised.

Our lawmakers say that we can't afford to put an end to the factory farm industry here in Iowa, but I know we taxpayers really can't afford the health risks, the polluted air, or the polluted water. I know we certainly can't afford to continue covering for factory farm screwups on the taxpayer dime or giving them tax breaks so they can afford to ruin our quality of life.

It's time for lawmakers to stop kowtowing to the factory farm industry and stand up for the voters by passing strict regulations of factory farms now - before we have another outbreak of disease on our hands.

Lori Nelson
Bayard, Iowa
Letter to the Editor
Des Moines Register


rBGH, Dairy Cows & You

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), also called recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), is a drug that is injected into cows to increase their milk production. Developed by the agricultural company Monsanto and approved for commercial use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, by 2000 it had become the largest selling pharmaceutical product in the history of the dairy industry. RBGH has never been approved for commercial use in Canada or the European Union due to concerns about the drug‚ impact on animal health. The artificial hormone‚ known side effects include increased udder infections and reproductive problems in cows. Notably, a growing body of scientific research also suggests a link between drinking rBGH-treated milk and certain types of cancer in humans...

Read rBGH: How Artificial Hormones Damage the Dairy Industry and Endanger Public Health


Consolidation and Price Manipulation in the Dairy Industry

Read the fact sheet on Consolidation and Price Manipulation in the Dairy Industry at Food & Water Watch


Iowa: Cattle Factory Farm Forced To Request Extension After DNR Raises Concerns About Operation

"If built, the cattle factory farm would potentially be the largest in the state, finishing 9,500-head of cattle a year, consuming more than 200,000 gallons of water every day, and producing more than 11 million gallons of manure every year inside the already impaired Mud Creek, Wapsipinicon, and Mississippi watersheds."

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI)members call on DNR to deny construction permit immediately

Davenport, Iowa -

Factory farm developer Bryan Sievers' July 26 request to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) for a 30-day extension for a review of a construction permit for a proposed cattle factory farm in Scott County should not be granted, and the DNR should immediately deny the permit application because it is incomplete and because the 60-day time frame for a decision expired on August 2, Iowa CCI members said Tuesday.

Mr. Sievers requested a 30-day extension on July 26 after the DNR wrote a three page letter July 16 raising major concerns about more than 20 different items on the construction permit application. Copies of both letters are enclosed here and here. (PDF documents)

"The DNR has validated Iowa CCI members' concerns that Scott County should have never voted to recommend approval for this factory farm," said Jen Broders, an Iowa CCI member and farmer from Stockton who lives a few miles from the proposed site. "The developer has failed to prove his claim, the 60 day time frame has expired, and the Iowa DNR should immediately deny the construction permit for this site."

If built, the cattle factory farm would potentially be the largest in the state, finishing 9,500-head of cattle a year, consuming more than 200,000 gallons of water every day, and producing more than 11 million gallons of manure every year inside the already impaired Mud Creek, Wapsipinicon, and Mississippi watersheds.

Read more at Blog foe Iowa


No Minimum Wage; No Overtime

Immigrant laborers, many of them here illegally, have begun to dominate the work force of the dairy industry and their presence is having a profound effect on some rural communities in Wisconsin.

A recent article from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism cites a study that estimates 40 percent of the dairy work force is made up of Latino workers. And this number will likely expand as dairy farms get larger.

And while Latino dairy farmers generally make about a $1 less per hour than their white counterparts, many of the farmers in the article cite the dependability of the workers as a reason why they seek them out. Farmers tell stories of having to scramble to cover for non-Latino workers who don't show up for early weekend shifts.
In the Wisconsin State Journal story linked to this post another farmer says that of the 300 employees who applied for jobs at his dairy farm in the last ten years, only 5 were non-Latinos.

It appears that milking cows, ankle-deep in cow manure, at 5 a.m., is a job that most Americans simply don't want to do, and as a city slicker, I don't blame them. But somebody has to milk the cows.

We need a guest worker program that will allow the folks who are willing to milk to come here legally and do a job that otherwise wouldn't get done.

Read more Wisconsin State Journal


Clean Wisconsin: Landmark water quality rules approved as of September 8

Innovative "phosphorus rules" and NR 151 herald a new future for cleaner waters in Wisconsin, are the first of their kind in the U.S.

When a farm applies too much manure onto farm fields, it can easily be washed into rivers and lakes by rain or melting snow; manure contains both harmful bacteria, like E. coli, and phosphorus...

MADISON — As summer comes to a close, Wisconsin is headed for cleaner waters come Wednesday, Sept. 8., thanks to innovation and cooperation from unlikely groups. That day marks the passage of a set of state rules, NR 102 and 217 (the "phosphorus rules") and NR 151, to address algae-forming phosphorus pollution in our waterways.

"For 30 years, phosphorus has been under-regulated, contaminating nearly half our lakes, rivers and streams, and marring Wisconsin's reputation for clean, clear waters, " says Melissa Malott, Clean Wisconsin’s water program director and attorney. Malott was on the DNR’s advisory committee for the phosphorus rules and publicly commented on NR 151. "Wisconsin is the first state to offer an adaptive, customizable rule package for improving water quality; together, these rules are pioneering a new, cleaner future for our water while staying true to the Clean Water Act."

These rules address the main water quality problems — phosphorus and manure runoff — affecting Wisconsinites' ability to use our waterways for fishing and swimming.

Read more at WisBusiness.com


The Evolution of Factory Farms

Our society is showered with images of happy animals living on farms where the cows graze in lush green fields and the chickens have the run of the barnyard. This vision of free-roaming animals living out their days in sunny fields is very far from the reality. A majority of the animals that are raised for food live miserable lives in intensive confinement in dark, overcrowded facilities, commonly called "factory farms."

Factory farming began in the 1920s soon after the discovery of vitamins A and D; when these vitamins are added to feed, animals no longer require exercise and sunlight for growth. This allowed large numbers of animals to be raised indoors year-round. The greatest problem that was faced in raising these animals indoors was the spread of disease, which was combated in the 1940s with the development of antibiotics. Farmers found they could increase productivity and reduce the operating costs by using mechanization and assembly-line techniques.

Unfortunately, this trend of mass production has resulted in incredible pain and suffering for the animals. Animals today raised on factory farms have had their genes manipulated and pumped full of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals to encourage high productivity. In the food industry, animals are not considered animals at all; they are food producing machines. They are confined to small cages with metal bars, ammonia-filled air and artificial lighting or no lighting at all. They are subjected to horrible mutilations: beak searing, tail docking, ear cutting and castration. Even the most minimum humane standards proposed are thwarted by the powerful food conglomerates.