After an investigation revealed disturbing animal rights violations allegedly occurring at a calf slaughter plant in New Jersey, the USDA has withdrawn its federal inspectors, which are required for the plant to operate. The move has shut down the plant, and been heralded as a step towards ensuring humane treatment for livestock calves.
The Humane Society of the United States took undercover video of calves at Catelli Bros. of Shrewsbury being dragged, shocked and hit, and abuse of animals called "downer calves" -- ones that are too sick to stand or walk. The shuttering of Catelli Bros. has led the HSUS to believe that legislation may follow to help other downer livestock.
"Downed calves are still suffering the sort of appalling abuses that we exposed in 2009 at another calf slaughter plant in Vermont," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO for The HSUS. "We commend USDA for taking action to shut down the operation at Catelli Brothers, but it's long past time to close the loophole in the downed animal rule that perpetuates continuing cruelty to young calves."
There is currently legislation that requires that sick downer cattles be euthanized immediately in slaughterhouses, but calves were exempt from this rule until recently, when the HSUS filed a petition to close the loophole. While the USDA did grant the petition and agree to close the loophole last March, its decision has not yet been finalized, allowing for the gross mistreatment of downer calves in some slaughterhouses.
It's also worth noting that in many states, so-called "ag-gag" bills, which prevent journalists and whistleblowers from filming inside slaughterhouses, are gaining traction. You can learn more about ag-gag bills and campaigns against them at HSUS's website.