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USDA Promises to Stop Allowing Slaughter of Debilitated Veal Calves

Monday, March 25, 2013 - 4:45pm
USDA Promises to Stop Allowing Slaughter of Debilitated Veal Calves

It’s about time. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced its intention to ban the slaughter of veal calves who are too sick, injured or weak to stand.

Many experts believe “downer” adult cattle are at higher risk of having Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease. For that reason, the USDA has already banned the slaughter of adult downer cattle, requiring that they be promptly and humanely euthanized. However, downer calves may be kept alive indefinitely in slaughter facility pens, leaving them vulnerable to cruel mistreatment.

“This decision should close a loophole that has allowed sick calves to be roughly handled, neglected and left to suffer,” says Suzanne McMillan, ASPCA Director of Farm Animal Welfare.“We hope the agency will enact these changes quickly to protect calves and consumers.”

Nearly 700,000 veal calves are slaughtered annually in the U.S.—many are under three weeks of age.

While the USDA has committed to changing its policy on downer calf slaughter, the agency still needs to issue a new rule to formalize the change and put it into effect.

Take Action!
Please tell the USDA to prioritize protecting calves from cruelty. Email U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator Almanza today and urge them to change regulations on downer calves immediately.

• FSIS Administrator Alfred V. Almanza:  [email protected]
• Secretary Tom Vilsack: [email protected]

To learn more about downer animals and the veal industry, please visit our Factory Farming Section.