Quick Hit: U Mad, Bro? Federal Nutritionists Include Sustainability in Diet Recommendations, Meat Industry Pouts.

h/t Our Hen House

A couple of days ago, The Hill published an article called “Vegan diet best for planet.”

A federal panel that helps set federal dietary guidelines is recommending Americans eat less meat because it’s better for the environment, sparking outrage from industry groups representing the nation’s purveyors of beef, pork and poultry.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a federally appointed panel of nutritionists created in 1983, decided for the first time this year to factor in environmental sustainability in its recommendations. They include a finding that a diet lower in animal-based foods is not only healthier, but has less of an environmental impact.

The meat industry is lashing back, contending the panel has neither the authority nor the expertise to make such a judgment.

Hard to say whether this one will have a happy ending. The article does say:

The Agriculture Department and Department of Health and Human Services will use the committee’s report and recommendations to draft the final guidelines for 2015, due out later this year.

But it follows up with this:

But even Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said sustainability is an issue that falls outside the scope of the guidelines.

Still, how cool is it to read this line in an article about federal dietary recommendations?

In its review of scientific studies, the committee highlighted research concluding that a vegan diet had the most potential health benefits.

from funnyjunk.com

Read This, Not That: News Fails and Successes on the California Drought

Read this:

1. Watch/read the Democracy Now interview with creators of Cowspiracy. This is the best overall analysis of the role animal ag plays in California’s water shortage.

On fracking:

Fracking gets a lot of attention because of water use. Fracking uses about 100 billion gallons of water every year in the U.S., which is a tremendous amount of water, but animal agriculture uses in excess of 34 trillion gallons. So it’s magnitudes greater. And then again the emissions that come from animal agriculture are about equal to natural gas and petroleum production. So it’s an issue that is vastly more destructive when it comes to water consumption, water pollution, and even emissions.

On almonds:

Ten percent of all water in California is used for almonds, which is a tremendous amount of water. But again, just alfalfa alone, a crop that is not consumed by human beings, that is fed for livestock, consumes 15 percent. California produces 82 percent of the world’s entire almonds. This is — again 10 percent of California’s water is feeding the 82 percent of the world’s almond demands. And the other important fact is that Americans aren’t consuming, and Californians in particular, aren’t consuming nine ounces of almonds per day, which is not the case for animal agriculture. Animal products we’re consuming nine ounces per person per day in the United States.

Lots and lots of statistics. I encourage you to check out the whole thing!

2. LA times has a great infographic showing the amount of water used to produce different foods.

AND, what’s even cooler, they have an interactive graphic where you can create a virtual plate and see how much your water footprint is!

3. A Mother Jones article from last year shows the amount of water that goes into producing different dairy products.

4. A Cowspiracy blog post from February highlights a New Republic article called Big Cattle, Big Gulp: Cowboys and cows are sucking the American West dry.

  • Humans drink about a gallon of water a day; cows, upwards of 23 gallons.
  • The alfalfa, hay, and pasturage raised to feed livestock in California account for approximately 1/2 of the water used in the state, with alfalfa representing the highest-acreage crop.
  • In parts of Montana, as much as 90 percent of irrigated land is operated solely for the production of livestock feed
  • 90 percent of Nevada’s cropland is dedicated to raising hay.
  • 1/2 of Idaho’s three million acres of irrigated farmland grows forage and feed exclusively for cattle; livestock production represents 60 percent of the state’s water use.
  • In Utah, cows are the top agricultural product, and three-fifths of the state’s cropland is planted with hay.
  • Alfalfa and hay production in the West requires more than ten timesthe water used by the region’s cities and industries combined, according to some estimates.
  • Producing one kilogram of animal protein requires about 100 timesmore water than producing one kilogram of grain protein.

5. Truth or Drought has a change.org petition to Save Our Water to include animal agriculture. Another great summary of facts, including the following:

Making a meal with lentils instead of beef can save a family of four the equivalent of 17 bathtubs full of water, per Oxfam International.

Skipping one single hamburger saves 660 gallons of water (LA Times). (Comparatively, the popular tip of shaving a minute off your shower saves about 2 gallons of water.) This means that 6 hamburgers equal an entire year of showers! 

Not that.

Skip the New York Times article that only gives glancing attention to agriculture, and no mention of animal agriculture specifically:

But even a significant drop in residential water use will not move the consumption needle nearly as much as even a small reduction by farmers. Of all the surface water consumed in the state, roughly 80 percent is earmarked for the agricultural sector.

“The big question is agriculture, and there are difficult trade-offs that need to be made,” said Katrina Jessoe, assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.

Great American Meat Out: April 11th

Great American Meat Out 4-11-15

The Great American Meat Out is coming up and Alliance is proud to once again be a sponsor.

Help us out! Print out the poster (Great American Meat Out 4-11-15) and hang it up in your neighborhood.

See the Madison event here or go to meatout.org to find an event near you!

All our thanks to Pearl for being an organizer extraordinaire!

Quick Hit: CAFO Pollution in Wisconsin

Report details CAFO pollution

In Wisconsin, dairy concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) hold 434,547 animal units — equal to 303,879 cows, assuming they are all milking and dry cows —and can produce more untreated waste than 69 million people. That’s more than 12 times the population of Wisconsin.

GAHHHHHHH

I actually don’t even know if that’s the worst one. This may be worse:

Over time, the DNR has issued fewer citations to factory farms, despite rapid growth in the number of operations. In 2012, the DNR issued just three violation notices for animal waste from CAFOs — down from 13 in 2011 and 15 in 2010. The agency has also never turned down a permit request.

Here’s a picture of the immense beauty of Wisconsin. This is what we are fighting for when we oppose factory farms in our state and when we pursue plant based diets and lifestyles. Learn more about animal farming’s effect on the environment here, and how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle here.

Devil’s Lake, site of very fond childhood memories.

Wisconsin Ag-Gag: What We Know, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do

What We Know

1. The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association is introducing the legislation, and Representative Nerison is sponsoring it.

2. We don’t know the entire text, but we know that the bill pertains to “recording or photographing at an animal agriculture facility without the consent of the owner.”

From this, we are extrapolating that the bill is an “ag-gag” bill, which criminalizes the whistleblowers from undercover investigations.

Why It Matters

1. If you care about animals (which, if you read this blog, you probably do), this bill is aimed at stopping undercover investigations, like those of Mercy for Animals, that expose horrible animal cruelty to the public. This video from Dannika Lewis’ interview with Melissa Tedrowe shows just a snippet of that cruelty. There have been two recent undercover investigations in Wisconsin, Andrus Dairy, and Wiese Brothers. Those links show much longer graphic footage.

2. It is a blatant affront to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

3. Hiding the conditions in which animals are raised to become food puts human health and our environment at risk, and it’s disrespectful to the public, who deserve to make informed choices.

For more on why this matters, or for suggested talking points, email alliance@allanimals.org.

What You Can Do (thanks to our friends at HSUS and MFA!)

1. Leave a comment on the Wisconsin Dairy Producers’ Facebook Page letting them know how you feel. My example:

 
Please reconsider. Consumers deserve transparency. “Report not Record” is a catchy slogan, but not a good reason to take away that transparency. Employees may not feel comfortable telling their boss what they see simply because of the power differential. Having concrete evidence can help them come forward.
 
Wisconsin is the Dairy State, and Wisconsinites deserve more from the people who gave it that name. Please make a stand for informed consumers, exposed animal abusers, protection of human health and the environment, and upholding of free speech and free press and withdraw your support from the ag-gag bill.

2. Contact your legislators and use your own words or borrow HSUS’s suggested text:

“As a constituent, I encourage my legislator to oppose the ag-gag bill. Whistleblowers who expose animal cruelty and food safety violations on factory farms should be thanked, not punished.”

3. Send a letter to the editor (keep under 250 words). Here’s mine:

As an animal lover and lifelong Wisconsin citizen, I was disturbed to hear about the Wisconsin Dairy Industry and Representative Nerison’s proposed new bill. The bill would criminalize photography and video of farms taken without the owner’s permission. Such a bill is a shocking violation of free speech and freedom of the press. In addition, it keeps consumers in the dark, threatens public health, and hurts animals by shielding animal abusers from public scrutiny and criminal liability. 

There is a name for this type of bill – “ag-gag.” Had it been law just a few months ago, it would have prevented the undercover investigation at Andrus Dairy in Birnamwood (WI), which uncovered workers shooting cows in the face with high-pressure water hoses, cutting off their tails, and more egregious abuse. 

Wisconsin has some of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation. Yet, instead of strengthening these laws, our lawmakers choose to penalize whistleblowers that bring animal cruelty to the public’s attention. Undercover investigations are a major form of transparency between industrial agriculture and the public. I don’t understand why the Wisconsin Dairy Industry fears that transparency. If dairy farmers’ practices are so ethical, what are they afraid of?

I encourage my representatives to vote no if this bill finds its way to them. The Wisconsin I know and love deserves more.

4. Share the above videos of undercover investigations and the HSUS alert with others.

5. Thank the news studios and news casters who have covered the issue so far. You can comment directly on the article or send feedback to the organization.

Dannika Lewis, Channel 3000

NBC Green Bay

Wisconsin Gazette

Feel free to add any I missed in the comments.

Thank you to HSUS and Mercy for Animals for all they have done and are continuing to to, and THANK YOU for your swift attention and action. Let’s stop this thing and keep Wisconsin transparent!

Please email alliance@allanimals.org with any further questions.