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Millions of farm animals in the US have been culled: what are your thoughts on ventilation shutdown (VSD) and other depopulation methods?

pwny__express

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If you aren't familiar with depopulation methods such as ventilation shutdown (VSD), the AVMA has permitted its use in 'constrained circumstances.' According to the AVMA guidelines for the depopulation of animals: "Ventilation shutdown involves closing up the house, shutting inlets, and turning off the fans. Body heat from the herd raises the temperature in the house until animals die from hyperthermia. Numerous variables may make the time to death of 100% of animals in the barn subject to a range of times." The AVMA guidelines as well as other sources are linked below.

https://www.avma.org/sites/default/...uidelines-for-the-Depopulation-of-Animals.pdf

Animal activist group secretly tapes euthanization of pigs, alleges they were 'roasted alive'

Millions of US farm animals to be culled by suffocation, drowning and shooting

Millions of farm animals culled as US food supply chain chokes up

Meat Plant Closures Mean Pigs Are Gassed or Shot Instead
 

WildZoo

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I was reading the discussion thread on VIN about this a little while ago. My conclusion was basically...wow that really sucks for everyone involved, and I would hate to have been someone having to make those kinds of decisions. It seems like a major flaw in the swine production chain that of course there was no way to really know would be a problem before the pandemic occurred, and I can't say that I know enough about how that system works to be able to make viable suggestions for fixing it/preventing this issue in the future (planning for pandemics is hard...). Terrible that this had to happen. One thing that struck me when reading the discussion on VIN was that a lot of people seemed to think they would have a better answer for the situation but...after reading through the statements by the committee that came up with the protocol and veterinarians who were involved or at least have experience in that sector, there really are no great solutions for depopulations on this scale.
 
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WildZoo

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There was some discussion of this over in pre-vet too
Iowa pig farm depopulation issue, now people are protesting outside AVMA. This is going to go well for our industry...
Is that method of depopulation actually humane? It sounded pretty horrific
No it’s not humane. It is an approved method for depopulation (not euthanasia) with the AVMA when there is no other alternative. Like if there was a nuclear meltdown and people had to leave, and they would suffer less from that than to just be left behind or something.

The question is, in this instance, are there viable alternatives? That I don’t have the expertise to say. I don’t know what it takes to kill thousands of pigs safely in a humane manner knowing that these pigs are too big to fit in any of the usual machinery and chutes, etc... used for slaughter. I’ve heard people say shoot them or captive bolt them, but that’s actually harder to do than most people think. Their brain is tiny compared to the size of their heads. To restrain a pig to have a chance at an accurate shot as not to maim them isn’t as simple as going down the line and doing so. Also, giving these pig to others for free just doesn’t work. These producers would be glad to give them to people. But the sheer number of pigs is a lot. And also, these pigs still need to be slaughtered and unless you have the ability to do it yourself at home, the small local operations are booked until next year. These pigs need to be slaughtered or it is a welfare concern because they’ve been selectively bred to get to market weight fast and if grown past that, they start having issues with lameness, etc...

I’ve heard a lot of people say there must be an alternative. But I haven’t heard anyone actually name one that swinepeople would agree would work.
This is so true. I’ve seen a lot of social media posts about buying beef and pork direct from the rancher or farmer and while I think that is fantastic, it’s not a real, sustainable solution right now. My dad runs a few cows as a hobby and we always feed one out for meat for our family. Usually it takes a month or two to get scheduled, but in March my dad called the local locker to make an appointment for this year’s steer and the first available slot was February 2021. Basically a year away. He found another facility a bit further away with availability in October 2020. And that was before things got really bad in April and May...I’ve heard of people reserving spots into 2022 already. The little facilities just don’t have the capacity to absorb the shutdowns and increase in demand. I’ve seen discussions about building new ones and that’s great, but will take time. It’s a rough situation on many fronts.
Looking at the AVMA guidelines for euthanasia of pigs you could do some of the other methods such as euthasol but when needing to depopulate a mass population like that, then you also have to worry about disposal because of the barbituates. Of the approved methods gases seem like the most efficient for the number of pigs needed to depopulate, and more humane than at least one other method mentioned
https://www.avma.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/2020-Euthanasia-Final-1-17-20.pdf page 72 for anyone interested
Yeah, depopulation of pigs or poultry are horrible things that there really is no easy, straightforward "humane" answer to. I don't envy anyone working in these industries when the issues arise of needing to depopulate quickly and efficiently. Humans can't understand the complexities of the situation and so they protest and proclaim there has to be something better, when, in reality, there isn't. People act like those who work doing these depopulation methods are out there getting their kicks off or something, when they really wish there was a better way to approach these situations.
A quote from a farmer in one of the articles about this:

“Every animal has a purpose,” he said. “Every being has a purpose. We have raised these pigs to go into the food supply. And now so many are being wasted.”

I just feel like that goes to show how misunderstood farming and the agriculture industry are by the general public. Most of these farmers (all of those whom I've ever spoken to or heard about in my professional experience) love their animals and their work and just want what's best for everyone involved.

I'm so sad for the people and families experiencing food shortages and I'm so sad for the animals whose lives have suffered. I still can't really believe we live in times like this. I can only hope that we will come out stronger from it all.
The problem with all of those, as far as industry is concerned, is that they are more expensive than ventilation shut down. Both at the moment of euthanasia and in the after effects (environmental regulations, etc). And if they have VSD as an approved option, they are not going to pick a more expensive one when they are already losing millions of dollars worth of product.

Gas euthanasia is also probably not as practical as most people think- you can't guarantee that the euthanasia will work during whole house / barn gassing so the USDA doesn't consider it a practical mass depopulation method.

Generally they remove animals from the barns/houses and put them in a smaller chamber for gas depop. For pigs, the CO2 stun chambers I've seen in action hold about 6 pigs. I'm not sure they can even be used in a field setting, and even if they could, I'm not sure they'd be able to find enough of them to euthanize 700,000 pigs per week, which is the worst case scenario they're projecting. (By my math you'd need like 115 of them running 24/7.)

There are newer nitrogen foams that could be used for gas euthanasia, but I don't think they're approved yet because they are so new to market.

They use foam (water based, I think) sometimes for chickens during depop events, but usually that's when the government is requiring the depopulation and is paying for or performing the euthanasia method. If it's a producer initiated decision, I very much doubt most will ever use anything except for VSD unless they are legally required to.

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pwny__express

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I was reading the discussion thread on VIN about this a little while ago. My conclusion was basically...wow that really sucks for everyone involved, and I would hate to have been someone having to make those kinds of decisions. It seems like a major flaw in the swine production chain that of course there was no way to really know would be a problem before the pandemic occurred, and I can't say that I know enough about how that system works to be able to make viable suggestions for fixing it/preventing this issue in the future (planning for pandemics is hard...). Terrible that this had to happen. One thing that struck me when reading the discussion on VIN was that a lot of people seemed to think they would have a better answer for the situation but...after reading through the statements by the committee that came up with the protocol and veterinarians who were involved or at least have experience in that sector, there really are no great solutions for depopulations on this scale.

Yes, the thread on VIN has been interesting to follow. Definitely critical to have the perspective of food animal vets, although I noted many who spoke out against VSD. Clearly the stresses of the pandemic created the circumstances in which this was necessary, although I would argue the problem itself has been present for decades. Either the agriculture industry failed to identify this vulnerability or they assumed things would be peachy forever - either way I hold them accountable.

Many SA vets in the thread were quick to offer alternatives, and several people rightly pointed out that an expert panel was assembled that arrived at these solutions over a 2 year period. So "it sucks, but there was no alternative" seems to be the accepted conclusion.

If we're are going to accept that grim reality - and I am inclined to do so - to me that leaves 2 possibilities: either the AVMA is wrong, there are better solutions, or they are correct, and we all have come to terms with the fact that our modern food production system has produced this result. Either way is unacceptable to me and I hope the AVMA hears from everyone who agrees. If they truly believe that VSD was the only practical solution to the recent crisis, food animal production reform has to be a top priority for the AVMA, USDA, and the agriculture industry.

The AVMA could start by eliminating VSD as an endorsed method of depopulation, or at least re-categorizing it to "not recommended" (definition per the AVMA: These methods should be considered only when the circumstances preclude the reasonable implementation of any of the preferred methods or those permitted in constrained circumstances and when the risk of doing nothing is deemed likely to have a reasonable chance of resulting in significantly more animal suffering than that associated with the proposed depopulation technique).

The AVMA could also be more proactive about protecting the definition of "euthanasia" - every ag industry PR team and some veterinarians have referred to depopulation techniques as "euthanasia" or refer to "euthanizing animals to prevent animal suffering." As veterinarians we claim to agree that it is important how an animal dies. The AVMA has published hundreds of pages on the methods and circumstances in which euthanasia, depopulation, and humane slaughter can be performed. Those terms are specifically defined and the AVMA acknowledges "Because the circumstances surrounding depopulation are exigent, it is not always possible to guarantee that an animal’s death will be minimally painful and distress free (i.e., that it will meet the definition of euthanasia)". I would argue that any form of depopulation by definition is incompatible with euthanasia. To me it is intellectually dishonest to suggest the two terms share any similarity beyond producing the death of an animal.

Unprecedented situations are only unprecedented once ... as scientists we have to acknowledge that future epidemics / pandemics are an inevitability. Now that VSD has been used on these scales, the precedent is set, the infrastructure is in place for it to be used again, and I fear animals will continue to suffer death via VSD for whatever justification is given in the future.
 
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britzen

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The AVMA could start by eliminating VSD as an endorsed method of depopulation, or at least re-categorizing it to "not recommended" (definition per the AVMA: These methods should be considered only when the circumstances preclude the reasonable implementation of any of the preferred methods or those permitted in constrained circumstances and when the risk of doing nothing is deemed likely to have a reasonable chance of resulting in significantly more animal suffering than that associated with the proposed depopulation technique).

The current situation already meets this definition. There is no other approved method for swine that is reasonable given the scale needed, and doing nothing would result in unacceptable animal welfare standards. (Current euthanasia methods for swine are not recommended for mass depopulation in a field setting and include, as far as I know, chemical injection into the vena cava, penetrating bolt +/- exsanguination, CO2 chambers, cardiac fibrillation, and gunshot).

VSD is not unprecedented and there is not suddenly "infrastructure... in place for it to be used again" - the ability has always been there and the option has always been on the table for an emergency. Around 50 million birds died during the 2015 HPAI outbreak, and I'd guess that millions were depopulated using VSD even though it is not the preferred method. People objected to it then too.

I don't think anyone who has ever participated in a depopulation event would disagree with you - society should be trying to find a way to do mass depopulation in the most humane way possible given the circumstances. There are potentially more humane protocols in development for swine depopulation (gas, foam, electricity), but they aren't available yet - hopefully they will be in the near future. To push for a different method than VSD there needs to be a viable on-farm alternative in emergencies, and right now it appears that there is not.
 

pwny__express

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The current situation already meets this definition.

That may be true, so if it is I ask this: if they are going to use VSD either way, why wouldn't the AVMA classify it as "not recommended"? If it meets the criteria to be used whether it's recommended or not, why is the AVMA, who is speaking for all member veterinarians throughout the country, endorsing its use? I suspect it is because the Ag industry knows they would have a PR nightmare trying to justify using VSD if the AVMA condemned it's use. The Ag industry is using VSD because it is the cheapest solution and the AVMA allowed it. If you're skeptical of this, read any of the articles I linked above and see the quotes from the swine lobby. They directly reference the AVMA document as justification.

doing nothing would result in unacceptable animal welfare standards

This may be true as well, but lets just be 100% honest about why: these animals being killed via VSD are perfectly healthy. They are not suffering from any disease or pathogen that is compromising their welfare. "Unacceptable animal welfare standards" would be the eventual result of overcrowding and underfeeding, if nothing is done. While perhaps it's not practical, Iowa Select Farms, JBS, Smithfield, etc could choose to construct overflow housing and invest in stocking feed for these animals. I note that this would be a much more expensive option than depopulation. I also note that these companies are worth multi-billions of dollars. Again, the Ag industry is using VSD because it is the cheapest solution and the AVMA allowed it.

VSD is not unprecedented and there is not suddenly "infrastructure ... in place for it to be used again" - the ability has always been there and the option has always been on the table for an emergency. Around 50 million birds died during the 2015 HPAI outbreak, and I'd guess that millions were depopulated using VSD even though it is not the preferred method. People objected to it then too.

As far as I'm aware, the use of VSD outside the scope of emergency disease control is unprecedented. My comment about infrastructure being put in place is in reference to Iowa Select Farms, where whistleblowers reported that the company spent a month ahead of time modifying and retrofitting barn ventilation systems to perform VSD.

To push for a different method than VSD there needs to be a viable on-farm alternative in emergencies, and right now it appears that there is not

I respectfully disagree. VSD is explicitly not endorsed by the veterinary governing body in Australia. It is not even mentioned as a depopulation method in depopulation guidelines from the EU. The only use I'm aware of from the UK was during foot and mouth outbreaks. I think we have an obligation to push for an alternative method regardless of viable alternatives at the present. This problem was generated by the Ag industry and the AVMA, the so-called experts - I'm just holding them accountable to fix it.

https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/sites/gateway/files/AUSVETPLAN Destruction of Animals_0.pdf
 

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pwny__express

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How many swine are being killed a day at the same farm? Or is it the whole farm being depopulated in one go? How many weeks have they been doing VSD in a row at the same farm?

I don't know that anyone really knows this, outside of the companies and farms that are performing depopulation. The agriculture industry has put huge amounts of money and effort into suppressing any information coming out of their farms, especially when they are performing VSD. Depopulation events started in the first weeks of April and continued through most of May, and has started to level off as slaughterhouses come back online.

The numbers of animals being depopulated truly defies comprehension ... at least 10 million chickens, original estimates were about 10 million hogs but recent reports suggest it may not be as many as originally thought. From one of the linked articles above from the end of April: "producers could be forced to kill 700,000 pigs a week due to meat plant slowdowns or closures." It should be pointed out, it is unlikely VSD is used in all these cases, but we know it has been used already on multiple occasions.

I want to be fair to farmers and farm-animal vets, many people read my arguments and assume I am speaking out against them ... I hold the agriculture corporations responsible, not the farmers or vets. I recognize these people work tirelessly to provide food for our society, I'm sure depopulating their herds is emotionally and mentally devastating.
 

DVMDream

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I think you lack a lot of knowledge about agriculture and the food industry.

When you have to feed a population 7.5 billion people, or just in the US alone.. 328 million people, you can't utilize small production systems.

When you have a large herd of an animal that needs depopulation, the options are limited. Very limited. In this case it isn't because of infectious disease at least, but when it is, you want minimal contact with the animals. See: current pandemic.

Maybe focus your efforts on the skyrocketing human population and the fact that production has become what it has because of the exponential growth of humans on Earth. When you have that large of a human population, growing exponentially and they all need to eat, you need well, large production of animals. This isn't an agriculture issue. They are just responding to the needs of a growing human population and trying to do the best they can with the resources available to them.

And don't start on the "everyone can be vegetarian" kick.

Production of food animals is a necessity to feed the humans (and other animals) on the planet, start tackling the growing human population if you want to plateau or scale back on the amount of animals needed for food production.
 
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pwny__express

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I think you lack a lot of knowledge about agriculture and the food industry.

When you have to feed a population 7.5 billion people, or just in the US alone.. 328 million people, you can't utilize small production systems.

Thanks for your input. Where have I suggested transitioning to small production systems? I recognize depopulation is a necessary evil within modern food production systems. Like I pointed out, other countries that utilize intensive farming systems (including the reality of depopulation from time to time) have managed without the use of VSD. I'm condemning the use of VSD, not depopulation in general.

Maybe focus your efforts on the skyrocketing human population and the fact that production has become what it has because of the exponential growth of humans on Earth. When you have that large of a human population, growing exponentially and they all need to eat, you need well, large production of animals. This isn't an agriculture issue. They are just responding to the needs of a growing human population and trying to do the best they can with the resources available to them.

What does this even mean? How does one focus on "the skyrocketing human population"? Are you suggesting laws that limit family sizes, or perhaps another genocide? The pandemic may appear to be helping on this front but I'm afraid not making a dent. In all seriousness, please clarify what efforts you feel could curb our exponentially growing population.

This IS an agriculture issue. Obviously the population will continue growing. The current agricultural system is objectively unsustainable, we're just starting to see the cracks of failure as the system is stressed to it's limits by global crises. These situations will become more frequent and severe as the population grows and resources become more stretched, so why are we pretending they won't?

And don't start on the "everyone can be vegetarian" kick.

I'm not sure why you're assuming I'm vegetarian. I am a consumer of animal products like the majority of this country. That doesn't stop me from saying that VSD is abhorrent and should be stopped. If we're being honest, no part of our food animal production system prioritizes the welfare of the animals, but at least we can agree that it is important to treat animals humanely.
 

DVMDream

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Thanks for your input. Where have I suggested transitioning to small production systems? I recognize depopulation is a necessary evil within modern food production systems. Like I pointed out, other countries that utilize intensive farming systems (including the reality of depopulation from time to time) have managed without the use of VSD. I'm condemning the use of VSD, not depopulation in general.

Other countries utilize VSD. Not sure why you think they don't. I was actually on a Scottish poultry farm where he thoroughly laid out their VSD procedure and how it works if it needs to be utilized.

The ONLY way to not need large depopulation is to have small production systems. If you aren't suggesting that, what are you suggesting? You can't avoid then need for large depopulation unless you have a smaller population. We can't have a smaller population because the Earth is overwhelmed by human beings. I'd love to hear your suggestion though for large depopulation of animals that involve minimal to no human contact with the animals since 99% of the time VSD is used to kill off mass populations of animals due to horrible viruses that could have the potential to jump into the human population.


What does this even mean? How does one focus on "the skyrocketing human population"? Are you suggesting laws that limit family sizes, or perhaps another genocide? The pandemic may appear to be helping on this front but I'm afraid not making a dent. In all seriousness, please clarify what efforts you feel could curb our exponentially growing population.

This IS an agriculture issue. Obviously the population will continue growing. The current agricultural system is objectively unsustainable, we're just starting to see the cracks of failure as the system is stressed to it's limits by global crises. These situations will become more frequent and severe as the population grows and resources become more stretched, so why are we pretending they won't?

How do you suggest making agriculture sustainable? Huh? You can't stop it. You can't scale it back unless you want to watch people starve. What exactly are you looking for here? Again, we've been stating for decades that the Earth can't sustain the human population. On repeat. Over and over and over and over. This isn't because agriculture is unsustainable. This is because the Earth has limited resources on what it can provide especially in a time of crisis, why this has shocked anyone is beyond me. I am not the least bit surprised, this has been the predicted result of crisis for literally decades. It isn't like you can increase the trucking, packaging and slaughtering ability of multiple plants during a time when humans aren't supposed to be near each other and when a bunch of humans are becoming seriously ill. This isn't because it is a poor system, it is because there have always been physical and resource limitations to operations run by human beings on a planet that doesn't care if you live or die. Natural disasters have long had damaging effects on livestock, Hurricane Katrina and Rita had devastating effects, this isn't the first time in history we have seen natural disaster affect food supply and it won't be the last. As humans, we can't stop natural disaster, only respond to it. You might not like the response (not sure anyone in the field even likes it) but if you got something better, go for it, but most of the people who talk about how awful it is don't put any thought into exactly what should or can replace it that would be better.

No one is suggesting genocide. I don't think it would be wrong to limit family sizes though at all. But, hey, people will object to that because they should have the right to have as many children as they possibly want, in their mind's they don't care if the Earth will be able to sustain that human life they brought into the world. People don't think about this stuff. They think about their wants and not reality or what might become reality in regards to their children's future lives.


I'm not sure why you're assuming I'm vegetarian. I am a consumer of animal products like the majority of this country. That doesn't stop me from saying that VSD is abhorrent and should be stopped. If we're being honest, no part of our food animal production system prioritizes the welfare of the animals, but at least we can agree that it is important to treat animals humanely.

Every post of your screams animal rights activist and agriculture is the evil of the world. Wasn't much of a stretch that at some point it would be brought up that the world can live on a vegetarian diet and animal production isn't even needed.

If you aren't an animal rights extremist, might need to change up your discussion points because that is how it comes across.
 
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JustPaws

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I'd love to hear your suggestion though for large depopulation of animals that involve minimal to no human contact with the animals since 99% of the time VSD is used to kill off mass populations of animals due to horrible viruses that could have the potential to jump into the human population.
But that's not the reason it's being used currently correct?
 

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@DVMDream for the record I really appreciate the discussion.

Other countries utilize VSD. Not sure why you think they don't. I was actually on a Scottish poultry farm where he thoroughly laid out their VSD procedure and how it works if it needs to be utilized.

The ONLY way to not need large depopulation is to have small production systems. If you aren't suggesting that, what are you suggesting? You can't avoid then need for large depopulation unless you have a smaller population. We can't have a smaller population because the Earth is overwhelmed by human beings. I'd love to hear your suggestion though for large depopulation of animals that involve minimal to no human contact with the animals since 99% of the time VSD is used to kill off mass populations of animals due to horrible viruses that could have the potential to jump into the human population.

I'm not saying that other countries don't use VSD, just that there are examples of some that don't. Thus I question the argument of necessity. If we look at the current food-animal slaughter bottleneck in the US which created the circumstances necessitating VSD, we can at least partially trace this cluster back to the Wholesome Meat Act in 1967. This mandated that for farmers to sell their products, federal inspectors must be present during slaughter, or states must provide inspectors that meet the same requirements. Numbers of slaughterhouses in this country went from ~10,000 to about ~2,700 today. Four agriculture corporations now control ~80% of beef slaughter operations and ~60% of hog slaughter operations. So when their slaughterhouses closed down because of the pandemic, there was literally no where else to go because they are the only option.

The PRIME act has come up the last few years as a possible solution to this ... this would widen exemptions on slaughterhouses so private "custom" slaughterhouses could slaughter and process livestock for sale, and give farmers other alternatives for places to send their animals. Now I have my share of skepticism about the agenda of those who have written the PRIME act, and it remains to be said how this would impact food safety (which is the primary justification given for opponents of the bill). States would be left to regulate and enforce food safety standards, although many states currently have laws that are at least as stringent as federal laws. It is an interesting possibility. Of course the National Pork Producers Council and other industry lobbies are opposed to the bill, as is the AVMA. I don't know this, but I believe many many people in this country would begin to transition to locally sourced meats and animal products, given the choice.

I'd love to hear your suggestion though for large depopulation of animals that involve minimal to no human contact with the animals since 99% of the time VSD is used to kill off mass populations of animals due to horrible viruses that could have the potential to jump into the human population.

I mentioned in an earlier post, I take the industry and AVMA at their word when they say VSD was the only practical choice, I don't claim to have an answer that a panel of experts failed to arrive at. This is still an irrelevant argument ... this was definitively NOT a matter of infectious disease control. This was the industry's cheapest solution to a problem they created.

You might not like the response (not sure anyone in the field even likes it) but if you got something better, go for it, but most of the people who talk about how awful it is don't put any thought into exactly what should or can replace it that would be better.

I'm not the expert ... they are. The absence of an obvious solution does not invalidate condemnation of a ****ty solution. If no one shines a light on this, if no one speaks out against it, if no one tells the AVMA off, there will never be any motivation to change anything - they surely won't be changing anything on their own volition.


Every post of your screams animal rights activist and agriculture is the evil of the world. Wasn't much of a stretch that at some point it would be brought up that the world can live on a vegetarian diet and animal production isn't even needed.

If you aren't an animal rights extremist, might need to change up your discussion points because that is how it comes across.

The feedback is appreciated, but I feel otherwise. I've been pretty careful to present this issue as fairly as I can. I'm not condemning farmers or vets or even the AVMA, just the AVMA's stance on VSD. I'm not calling for veganism or vegetarianism or picketing the AVMA. While I would love to eventually see significant reforms in the food-animal industry, I'll be asking the AVMA for two things to start, also mentioned in a previous post:

1. at the very least re-categorizing VSD to "not recommended".

2. protecting the word "euthanasia" so the Ag industry cannot defile it's meaning with depopulation. When they use "euthanasia" to describe these events in press releases or public statements they are intentionally misleading the public to protect their image.

To me, these are obvious first steps and I don't see how any veterinarian would be opposed to these requests.

I certainly won't let the AVMA speak for me on this subject when I completely disagree. If it seems like I am horrified by VSD, its because I am, I would hope anyone who understands what VSD is and has witnessed a dog or cat die from heat stroke would feel the same way.
 
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WildZoo

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I guess the disconnect I'm seeing is, what is there to tell the AVMA off about, if you agree that the experts likely came up with the best solution possible under the circumstances? That is where I am getting confused. You can't both agree they did the best they could and also disagree with what they did. And as far as I can tell they did not give anyone a blank check to use VSD whenever they please (and honestly why would anyone want to unless they had to?)

I don't think anybody disagrees that VSD is horrible for everyone involved, and we all know it is not euthanasia. I am not seeing how the AVMA can "protect" word usage though. They can't copywrite the word euthanasia, as far as I know. They already have guidelines stating what is euthanasia and what isn't. People using the word incorrectly is not something that can really be changed...just like any of the many words in the English language that are used incorrectly every day.
 
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DVMDream

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I'm not saying that other countries don't use VSD, just that there are examples of some that don't. Thus I question the argument of necessity. If we look at the current food-animal slaughter bottleneck in the US which created the circumstances necessitating VSD, we can at least partially trace this cluster back to the Wholesome Meat Act in 1967. This mandated that for farmers to sell their products, federal inspectors must be present during slaughter, or states must provide inspectors that meet the same requirements. Numbers of slaughterhouses in this country went from ~10,000 to about ~2,700 today. Four agriculture corporations now control ~80% of beef slaughter operations and ~60% of hog slaughter operations. So when their slaughterhouses closed down because of the pandemic, there was literally no where else to go because they are the only option.

The PRIME act has come up the last few years as a possible solution to this ... this would widen exemptions on slaughterhouses so private "custom" slaughterhouses could slaughter and process livestock for sale, and give farmers other alternatives for places to send their animals. Now I have my share of skepticism about the agenda of those who have written the PRIME act, and it remains to be said how this would impact food safety (which is the primary justification given for opponents of the bill). States would be left to regulate and enforce food safety standards, although many states currently have laws that are at least as stringent as federal laws. It is an interesting possibility. Of course the National Pork Producers Council and other industry lobbies are opposed to the bill, as is the AVMA. I don't know this, but I believe many many people in this country would begin to transition to locally sourced meats and animal products, given the choice.

What do all these countries do that don't use VSD. I can't think of a single country that doesn't utilize VSD in some aspect when needed. If it were true that there are other countries that don't utilize it, what are the methods they do utilize?

Yeah having veterinary health inspectors during slaughter is a good thing. I don't support the PRIME act, hell no. Relying on states to be responsible for food safety, they couldn't handle a human pandemic well. Heck no they shouldn't be given power to handle food safety. Especially since certain states are better equipped for raising certain types of animals so there is intrastate shipping of food animal products. With each state having its own separate inspection, you would cripple food supply and transport across the country. Because food that would be accepted in say Iowa wouldn't meet standards in say neighboring Nebraska if the laws are different. But people don't think of this stuff.



I mentioned in an earlier post, I take the industry and AVMA at their word when they say VSD was the only practical choice, I don't claim to have an answer that a panel of experts failed to arrive at. This is still an irrelevant argument ... this was definitively NOT a matter of infectious disease control. This was the industry's cheapest solution to a problem they created.

This isn't a problem that anyone created. This was a natural disaster. A global crisis. It wasn't created by anyone. You wouldn't blame someone for being stuck by lightning. It is a natural phenomenon. Like a hurricane. Animals have been mass slaughtered after severe hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, landslides, floods, the list goes on. The virus happened to shut down a ton of meat processing plants. This would have occurred regardless of there had been 10,000 or 2700 processing plants. The number wouldn't have mattered. The impact would have occurred all the same. You think if there had been 10k processing plants that the industry wouldn't have been used to having 10k options available and a drop from 10K to any number would have had the same result? It really doesn't make any difference. An industry used to having x amount of options and suddenly only having y amount is going to struggle. Whether it be food processing or developing toilet paper. It isn't anyone's fault.

No, this wasn't infectious disease, but there is a global pandemic, these animals needed to be depopulated in a way that involved the most minimal human contact with other humans. This was the best option. Again, pandemic. Many farmers and farms and processing plants were hit hard by the virus, a lot of people that worked and work in these areas died from the virus. These are tight working quarters with not much in the way for protection from each other. Honestly, be ready for it to happen again as the virus grows, these workers are at high risk for contracting it, getting ill and the meat processing plants not being able to function.



I'm not the expert ... they are. The absence of an obvious solution does not invalidate condemnation of a ****ty solution. If no one shines a light on this, if no one speaks out against it, if no one tells the AVMA off, there will never be any motivation to change anything - they surely won't be changing anything on their own volition.

This doesn't fly with me. If you are in the veterinary industry you have or should have been taught enough about the food industry and animal production to know how these operations work. You should have been on farms, in meat packing places, visit to slaughterhouse, etc. It is easy to be critical and complain and moan from the comfort of your armchair on your computer, but it is a cop out to say "well it isn't my problem, you figure it out, you are the expert". No, you should have enough knowledge that if you are going to criticize, you need to be critically thinking as well, you should know what other options are out there and how those options work and whether or not they can be utilized in the midst of human social distancing. Criticism and complaint do nothing if that is all you are going to give, instead you should be asking questions and seeking answers to why other options are not viable and then reassessing your position based on that information or thinking of what other possibilities could there be.


The feedback is appreciated, but I feel otherwise. I've been pretty careful to present this issue as fairly as I can. I'm not condemning farmers or vets or even the AVMA, just the AVMA's stance on VSD. I'm not calling for veganism or vegetarianism or picketing the AVMA. While I would love to eventually see significant reforms in the food-animal industry, I'll be asking the AVMA for two things to start, also mentioned in a previous post:

1. at the very least re-categorizing VSD to "not recommended".

2. protecting the word "euthanasia" so the Ag industry cannot defile it's meaning with depopulation. When they use "euthanasia" to describe these events in press releases or public statements they are intentionally misleading the public to protect their image.

To me, these are obvious first steps and I don't see how any veterinarian would be opposed to these requests.

I certainly won't let the AVMA speak for me on this subject when I completely disagree. If it seems like I am horrified by VSD, its because I am, I would hope anyone who understands what VSD is and has witnessed a dog or cat die from heat stroke would feel the same way.

1. I don't want VSD to be considered not recommended, it unfortunately, is one of the better options when dealing with avian flus and I sure as crap don't want to see another avian flu pandemic.

2. Meh, sure ok, maybe, I dunno, you act as if small animal is free of unnecessary euthanasia while animals die in the thousands in shelters all over. Sure it, mostly, isn't by hyperthermia, but there are still gas chambers in use, not a nice way to go either. I feel like vet med has long stretched the meaning of a "good death" for quite some time. Note: this isn't to say that I think the euthanasia we use on pets is unacceptable, it is very much acceptable and I advocate for its use and wish it was an option in human medicine. I just think the word euthanasia has been long extended to manners that aren't necessarily "nice" ways to die for like, forever.

The AVMA is crap and I don't listen to a damn word they say. Eff the AVMA. Bunch of old out of touch, mostly white dudes who don't stand for the most of veterinarians or veterinary medicine. You should probably stop holding out any hope they will respond to anything worthwhile to respond to.
 
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pwny__express

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What do all these countries do that don't use VSD. I can't think of a single country that doesn't utilize VSD in some aspect when needed. If it were true that there are other countries that don't utilize it, what are the methods they do utilize?

The Australian document "Operational Manual - Destruction of animals" from 2015 lists a variety of methods. I'm not sure what they would elect in a mass depopulation event for swine. Poultry are killed with water-based foam or CO2 gassed. They do explicitly comment "It is worth noting that the Animal Welfare Committee advised that there is insufficient research information to endorse the use of shed ventilation shut-down as a humane depopulation technique."

VSD is not even discussed in the document from the EU. I followed up with the vet who sent the document about VSD and if it was used despite the absence from the guidelines. Their response: "I would say it’s not really considered an option. The list of available methods in reg. 1099/2009 is exhaustive. Partially in poultry, there is an in-house method described in the materials, but it is done in combination with CO2, never as a ventilation shutdown combined with increased heating. And even this isn’t the prefered method for poultry, colleagues usually use truck-sized containers filled with high concentration of CO2 with a trap door. Once it’s filled, it’s easilly transported straight to the rendering plant. I have actually never heard of VSD untill this spring."

Yeah having veterinary health inspectors during slaughter is a good thing. I don't support the PRIME act, hell no. Relying on states to be responsible for food safety, they couldn't handle a human pandemic well. Heck no they shouldn't be given power to handle food safety. Especially since certain states are better equipped for raising certain types of animals so there is intrastate shipping of food animal products. With each state having its own separate inspection, you would cripple food supply and transport across the country. Because food that would be accepted in say Iowa wouldn't meet standards in say neighboring Nebraska if the laws are different. But people don't think of this stuff.

I think we could argue day and night about whether or not the federal government is more competent than individual states ... And there are plenty of examples of the USDA completely dropping the ball on inspections. There are plenty of examples of the USDA failing to be present during slaughter as well. Also the PRIME act would only open exemptions for meat to be sold intrastate. Animal products moving across state lines would still require slaughter at USDA plants. It wouldn't be eliminating USDA plants, just allowing smaller slaughterhouses to compete.

This isn't a problem that anyone created. This was a natural disaster. A global crisis. It wasn't created by anyone. You wouldn't blame someone for being stuck by lightning.

I'm not saying any one is at fault for the emergence of a global pandemic or for being struck by lightning. I'm just suggesting that now is a good time to reflect on all of the decisions that have led to the need for VSD. If the Ag industry is honest with themselves, I don't see how they can't conclude that the system as it exists, with zero logistical redundancy or flexibility to incorporate or address unanticipated emergencies, has contributed to the result we have.

No, this wasn't infectious disease, but there is a global pandemic, these animals needed to be depopulated in a way that involved the most minimal human contact with other humans. This was the best option. Again, pandemic. Many farmers and farms and processing plants were hit hard by the virus, a lot of people that worked and work in these areas died from the virus. These are tight working quarters with not much in the way for protection from each other. Honestly, be ready for it to happen again as the virus grows, these workers are at high risk for contracting it, getting ill and the meat processing plants not being able to function.

Minimizing human-human contact was clearly not a priority for the Ag industry, exemplified by Trump's executive order to "keep meat processing plants open" during the pandemic. Reading through the lines to understand the true purpose of the order: "Trump on Tuesday said the order would address what he described as a 'legal roadblock.' It will 'solve any liability problems where they had certain liability problems and we’ll be in very good shape.'" It prevents unions and employees from suing their employers if they get sick while working in meat processing plants. And if we're trying to facilitate social distancing during a pandemic, the PRIME act makes some sense again ... seems better to have a handful of employees in 10,000 slaughterhouses vs. thousands of employees in a handful of slaughterhouses.

This doesn't fly with me. If you are in the veterinary industry you have or should have been taught enough about the food industry and animal production to know how these operations work. You should have been on farms, in meat packing places, visit to slaughterhouse, etc. It is easy to be critical and complain and moan from the comfort of your armchair on your computer, but it is a cop out to say "well it isn't my problem, you figure it out, you are the expert". No, you should have enough knowledge that if you are going to criticize, you need to be critically thinking as well, you should know what other options are out there and how those options work and whether or not they can be utilized in the midst of human social distancing. Criticism and complaint do nothing if that is all you are going to give, instead you should be asking questions and seeking answers to why other options are not viable and then reassessing your position based on that information or thinking of what other possibilities could there be.

This is fair, and I acknowledge the call out. I've been on farms, slaughterhouses, pig operations, etc. I'm also a veterinary student. I'm trying to keep my own head above water and survive my last year before I venture out into the post-pandemic world to hopefully do what I've invested a lot of money and time in doing. I don't have the time or energy to sit down and completely upend my career plans to become an expert on every nuance of the modern swine industry. Additionally, it would be a lot easier to understand the various subtleties of the Ag industry if they were more transparent about their practices.

I assure you that I am critically thinking and exploring every avenue I can to understand more about why this happened, which includes beginning this conversation on this forum. But for the record I've also been in communication with vets and industry experts in this country and abroad for the last few weeks. I am confident based on these conversations that even amongst food animal veterinarians there is disagreement regarding VSD and whether or not it is acceptable. I assure you there are many people who have been bombarded by questions and my position on the subject has been challenged and re-examined on a daily basis. I am not simply criticizing the AVMA or anyone else for the sake of hearing my own self-righteousness, I have suggested actionable steps that the AVMA could take. They may not come close to preventing VSD in the future, but to me they are the first steps to accomplishing that goal.

1. I don't want VSD to be considered not recommended, it unfortunately, is one of the better options when dealing with avian flus and I sure as crap don't want to see another avian flu pandemic.

Why not? Classifying as "not recommended" doesn't take it off the table as an option. Per the AVMA: "These methods should be considered only when the circumstances preclude the reasonable implementation of any of the preferred methods or those permitted in constrained circumstances and when the risk of doing nothing is deemed likely to have a reasonable chance of resulting in significantly more animal suffering than that associated with the proposed depopulation technique." It would meet the criteria for use in cases of HPAI, assuming that dying of HPAI results in significant animal suffering at least comparable to any other form of death on massive scales. It would require the Ag industry to put more effort into justifying the use of VSD, and it would make the AVMA's position at least a bit more congruent with the veterinarians oath.

2. Meh, sure ok, maybe, I dunno, you act as if small animal is free of unnecessary euthanasia while animals die in the thousands in shelters all over. Sure it, mostly, isn't by hyperthermia, but there are still gas chambers in use, not a nice way to go either. I feel like vet med has long stretched the meaning of a "good death" for quite some time. Note: this isn't to say that I think the euthanasia we use on pets is unacceptable, it is very much acceptable and I advocate for its use and wish it was an option in human medicine. I just think the word euthanasia has been long extended to manners that aren't necessarily "nice" ways to die for like, forever.

Fair point, obviously animals are suffering and dying in horrific ways all the time. As are humans. If the meaning of the word has been adulterated this much, it deserves to be restored in all applications. If we're going to agree that it is important *how* an animal dies, at least trying to be humane is all I'm asking.

The AVMA is crap and I don't listen to a damn word they say. Eff the AVMA. Bunch of old out of touch, mostly white dudes who don't stand for the most of veterinarians or veterinary medicine.

I'm glad at least we agree on something.
 
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pwny__express

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I guess the disconnect I'm seeing is, what is there to tell the AVMA off about, if you agree that the experts likely came up with the best solution possible under the circumstances? That is where I am getting confused. You can't both agree they did the best they could and also disagree with what they did. And as far as I can tell they did not give anyone a blank check to use VSD whenever they please (and honestly why would anyone want to unless they had to?)

I don't think anybody disagrees that VSD is horrible for everyone involved, and we all know it is not euthanasia. I am not seeing how the AVMA can "protect" word usage though. They can't copywrite the word euthanasia, as far as I know. They already have guidelines stating what is euthanasia and what isn't. People using the word incorrectly is not something that can really be changed...just like any of the many words in the English language that are used incorrectly every day.

I can accept that the experts came up with the best solution possible under the circumstances, I'm arguing that steps could be taken to minimize the need for VSD in the future. And I am still not convinced VSD was necessary given conversations with a number of food-animal vets who have spoken out against it. Several of them signed the petition from VIN.

I don't think anyone wants to have to use VSD, but I assure you it was very important to the Ag industry that VSD was documented by the AVMA to be "permitted in constrained circumstances" as opposed to "not recommended". Knowing the political reach and power of the Ag industry I guarantee their strong opinion on the matter was provided to the AVMA. Why would they care? Because it is a matter of dollars and cents. They know VSD will be more cost-effective than any other depopulation technique. Industry accountants, far removed from the farms where the killing occurs, are beholden to a board of directors that are looking at a bottom line.

There are misrepresentation laws that can hold people accountable for being purposefully deceptive. I'm a vet student, not a lawyer, so I'll acknowledge I don't currently know if it is possible. I'm waiting to hear back from some legal council on whether or not this is possible.
 

britzen

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I guess the disconnect I'm seeing is, what is there to tell the AVMA off about, if you agree that the experts likely came up with the best solution possible under the circumstances? That is where I am getting confused. You can't both agree they did the best they could and also disagree with what they did. And as far as I can tell they did not give anyone a blank check to use VSD whenever they please (and honestly why would anyone want to unless they had to?)

I don't think anybody disagrees that VSD is horrible for everyone involved, and we all know it is not euthanasia. I am not seeing how the AVMA can "protect" word usage though. They can't copywrite the word euthanasia, as far as I know. They already have guidelines stating what is euthanasia and what isn't. People using the word incorrectly is not something that can really be changed...just like any of the many words in the English language that are used incorrectly every day.

I think the argument is that we should take VSD off the table to force industry into using a different method? Or at least condemn it so that industry can't use it as easily to support their statements about what they are doing.

The AVMA panel is basically saying that there is no other method that will work at scale for US agriculture, but if you make VSD illegal you could force the industry into innovating a more humane method that could be used at scale.
 
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britzen

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I respectfully disagree. VSD is explicitly not endorsed by the veterinary governing body in Australia. It is not even mentioned as a depopulation method in depopulation guidelines from the EU. The only use I'm aware of from the UK was during foot and mouth outbreaks. I think we have an obligation to push for an alternative method regardless of viable alternatives at the present. This problem was generated by the Ag industry and the AVMA, the so-called experts - I'm just holding them accountable to fix it.

https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/sites/gateway/files/AUSVETPLAN Destruction of Animals_0.pdf

The Australian document "Operational Manual - Destruction of animals" from 2015 lists a variety of methods. I'm not sure what they would elect in a mass depopulation event for swine. Poultry are killed with water-based foam or CO2 gassed. They do explicitly comment "It is worth noting that the Animal Welfare Committee advised that there is insufficient research information to endorse the use of shed ventilation shut-down as a humane depopulation technique."

The Australian emergency planning manual recommends the use bolt +/- secondary method (pithing, bleeding out) or gunshots for mass depopulations of swine in emergency operations. Those are both allowed by US regulation, and are recommended over VSD as methods of depopulation.

If you think the AVMA panel is correct that VSD is our only realistic option for this crisis, then you are acknowledging that the US and Australian system are not equivalent in terms of their ability to conduct depopulation events. My guess is that the reason we can't use captive bolts have to do with the size and intensive nature we've allowed in the US industry - Australia only has about 5% as many swine as the U.S. to my knowledge.

Russia has used VSD to stamp out ASF and I'm pretty sure I've seen reports of it being used in China as well for that purpose. Both counties have swine industries that are more comparable in size to the US than any EU nation. I think that's what DVMD is getting at - if you want to have a system where penetrating bolt can be used, you either need the system to be smaller scale (most countries) or you need to have way more government welfare regulation to force companies into it (EU).


VSD is not even discussed in the document from the EU.

That should be telling - if they wanted to make a statement to disallow it, they would have.
 
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britzen

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As far as I'm aware, the use of VSD outside the scope of emergency disease control is unprecedented. My comment about infrastructure being put in place is in reference to Iowa Select Farms, where whistleblowers reported that the company spent a month ahead of time modifying and retrofitting barn ventilation systems to perform VSD.

I will eat my words on this - I was thinking it was in place before the 2015 HPAI outbreak and just hadn't been used recently, but I was wrong.
 
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britzen

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That may be true, so if it is I ask this: if they are going to use VSD either way, why wouldn't the AVMA classify it as "not recommended"?

I don't think we disagree here.... politics.

I'm not saying any one is at fault for the emergence of a global pandemic or for being struck by lightning. I'm just suggesting that now is a good time to reflect on all of the decisions that have led to the need for VSD. If the Ag industry is honest with themselves, I don't see how they can't conclude that the system as it exists, with zero logistical redundancy or flexibility to incorporate or address unanticipated emergencies, has contributed to the result we have.

We don't disagree here either - I think this a great moment for everybody to reflect on the system and how we can improve it. African Swine Fever will hit us eventually, and it will be massively disruptive when it does. Swine is by far the least flexible industry when it comes to supply chain disruptions, hopefully improvements can be made to lessen the impacts.


This mandated that for farmers to sell their products, federal inspectors must be present during slaughter, or states must provide inspectors that meet the same requirements.
States would be left to regulate and enforce food safety standards, although many states currently have laws that are at least as stringent as federal laws. It is an interesting possibility.

I think there is room for a more niche market with direct to consumer sales, but taking action that will weaken food safety is not a great idea in my opinion. A better option I think would be to expand the FSIS-inspected mobile slaughter capability. (Mobile state inspected slaughter would be fine too if you could guarantee an in-state only market.) You could also find a way to send emergency support to small abbatoirs. The few I've been to only run one shift vs. large facilities that operate 24/7. You could more than double the processing capacity of small facilities if you increased their access to trained workers and inspectors. The move toward minimal slaughter operations that has already been implemented should probably be included and refined in future planning too (ie running the slaughter with a minimal staff, without further processing, so that social distancing requirements can be met or increased numbers can be slaughtered quickly.)


While perhaps it's not practical, Iowa Select Farms, JBS, Smithfield, etc could choose to construct overflow housing and invest in stocking feed for these animals. I note that this would be a much more expensive option than depopulation. I also note that these companies are worth multi-billions of dollars. Again, the Ag industry is using VSD because it is the cheapest solution and the AVMA allowed it.

As a long-term future solution, I don't disagree. I feel like you'd have to push for it through regulation and legislation though or companies won't do it. Other options could be finding a way to design large capacity mobile freezer storage to go along with a mobile slaughter unit so that swine could be held on site for further processing at a later time. Or finding an acceptable way to do pop-up farm housing that would meet animal welfare, EPA, OSHA and whatever other standards (no small feat).
 
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britzen

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But that's not the reason it's being used currently correct?

I assume their justification here is that the depopulation had to happen quickly to prevent suffering caused by poor management (overcrowding, growing animals in inappropriately small housing that they've outgrown because they can't move to the next facility).

I do think there's an argument to be made that they could have chosen a method that would have been a slower depopulation, but that would have resulted in a quicker death for individual animals given that this wasn't a disease event that required depopulation within 24 hours. The AVMA seems to think this was appropriate though, given the circumstances.

What I'd like to know is whether they would have been able to use penetrating bolts instead if it wasn't the Coronapacalypse.
Like, was this decision partly driven by circumstances like low staffing due to the pandemic / PPE shortages / etc.
Or is it because the industry never has the capacity to do more humane depopulation on its own and would have to rely on the government to provide staffing during a disease outbreak in order to provide a more humane solution. Inquiring taxpayers and voters want to know.
 
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JustPaws

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I do think there's an argument to be made that they could have chosen a method that would have been a slower depopulation, but that would have resulted in a quicker death for individual animals given that this wasn't a disease event that required depopulation within 24 hours
This was my point. We arent trying to limit human to swine contact and producers have had 3 months to be depopulating, but no one seems to be able to say the numbers on these farms. I can understand it better if they are doing full barns every couple days for the last month and are still at capacity, but if they have done none and then did the entire farm in one day by this method I feel frustrated by that.
 
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DVMDream

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I think we could argue day and night about whether or not the federal government is more competent than individual states ... And there are plenty of examples of the USDA completely dropping the ball on inspections. There are plenty of examples of the USDA failing to be present during slaughter as well. Also the PRIME act would only open exemptions for meat to be sold intrastate. Animal products moving across state lines would still require slaughter at USDA plants. It wouldn't be eliminating USDA plants, just allowing smaller slaughterhouses to compete.

The vast majority of meat products travel across state lines, so you'd effectively be doing nothing, absolutely nothing about the industry would change from this act. Then tax payers would have to financially support an individual states meat inspection system AND the USDA. Not really a thought out option here in my opinion.



I'm not saying any one is at fault for the emergence of a global pandemic or for being struck by lightning. I'm just suggesting that now is a good time to reflect on all of the decisions that have led to the need for VSD. If the Ag industry is honest with themselves, I don't see how they can't conclude that the system as it exists, with zero logistical redundancy or flexibility to incorporate or address unanticipated emergencies, has contributed to the result we have.

Please name a single industry that was set up and ready to handle a pandemic. Go on. Please tell me do you expect literally every other industry that struggled to keep up with demands to develop a pandemic response effort for the future, just in case, to the tune of thousands of dollars after they have just lost money hand over fist? We are talking that people in these slaughter houses were dying from the virus, that is why so many of the slaughter houses shut down. You can't just send people back into them. And opening more isn't the answer, you would just expose a larger amount of people to a deadly virus. Plus having a "holding place" for animals like this in case this happens so they can be slaughtered later also isn't an option. These animals grow big fast. These farms don't have the space for that. The money to continue to feed animals that once at a certain size are complete losses, they can't be sold. At a certain size/age, pigs aren't even palatable to humans anymore, especially boars. So what exactly are they to do? Plus you increase the risk of viruses and disease developing within the pigs and spreading to an overcrowded system like a wild fire.





Minimizing human-human contact was clearly not a priority for the Ag industry, exemplified by Trump's executive order to "keep meat processing plants open" during the pandemic. Reading through the lines to understand the true purpose of the order: "Trump on Tuesday said the order would address what he described as a 'legal roadblock.' It will 'solve any liability problems where they had certain liability problems and we’ll be in very good shape.'" It prevents unions and employees from suing their employers if they get sick while working in meat processing plants. And if we're trying to facilitate social distancing during a pandemic, the PRIME act makes some sense again ... seems better to have a handful of employees in 10,000 slaughterhouses vs. thousands of employees in a handful of slaughterhouses.

Trump is a ***** just because he says he will resolve any liability problems doesn't mean he can do that. Newsflash: He can't. He can say it as much as he wants, but he literally does not have the power to do anything like that.

So yes, they can still sue, but since people believe every drip and drivel that comes out of that *****'s mouth, they won't try. They are also likely scared to lose their jobs.

The US has long never cared about the workers of the country. This isn't a shock to me anymore.

What are you going to do... start shipping slaughterhouse employees all over the country during a pandemic? How you getting them to these other slaughterhouses that are further away? Where are they going to live? Are you going to let their families come with? Their pets? How are you going to provide them with food? Are they going to need to immediately be out at a store in their new location to get food?

Yup, the increase in number is STILL not a solution plus many of those would have been shut down as well. You really think a small privately owned slaughterhouse will be able to stay open better than a government owned one?




Why not? Classifying as "not recommended" doesn't take it off the table as an option. Per the AVMA: "These methods should be considered only when the circumstances preclude the reasonable implementation of any of the preferred methods or those permitted in constrained circumstances and when the risk of doing nothing is deemed likely to have a reasonable chance of resulting in significantly more animal suffering than that associated with the proposed depopulation technique." It would meet the criteria for use in cases of HPAI, assuming that dying of HPAI results in significant animal suffering at least comparable to any other form of death on massive scales. It would require the Ag industry to put more effort into justifying the use of VSD, and it would make the AVMA's position at least a bit more congruent with the veterinarians oath.

You do realize the veterinarians oath includes that bit about public health, right? I don't know if you have seen it given you are in school still but with this pandemic, the public health portion has taken over basically the entire veterinary oath in the industry. Quit literally. No spay or neuter, so lots of feral cats not being TNR, lots of low income families not getting their pets fixed, I am sure many pyos developed that may not have otherwise. No routine care except for young puppies/kittens. No treating of cancers/surgical removal of cancers. Heck, vets refusing/debating about orthopedic procedures. I can tell you a LOT of animals suffered during this pandemic to make way for upholding the public health part of the veterinary oath. I can say that many pets actually died because of how extreme we were limiting services. This wasn't just limited to the VSD used to depopulate these animals to prevent them from suffering later on. This was across the board in the veterinary industry. And it is still impacting the industry. There are still many medication shortages and certain conditions have been impossible to treat/address because of the shortages and funneling of resources to human medicine over veterinary medicine.

Something you might want to start thinking about because if another pandemic happens, you might need to get comfortable with the idea that animals are going to suffer or die in order to prioritize human life and public health.

I don't think listing VSD as "not recommended" is a good idea until we have a fool-proof, proven method of mass depopulation that will work for any situation in which VSD has been used. Until that is developed, I think it needs to remain how it is, otherwise I believe we will see worse suffering of animals than what VSD causes.
 
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pwny__express

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I think the argument is that we should take VSD off the table to force industry into using a different method? Or at least condemn it so that industry can't use it as easily to support their statements about what they are doing.

The AVMA panel is basically saying that there is no other method that will work at scale for US agriculture, but if you make VSD illegal you could force the industry into innovating a more humane method that could be used at scale.

Yes, by removing endorsement from a veterinary governing body (AVMA), it would make the use of VSD more risky for the industry in regards to public perception. I'm not saying we should make VSD illegal, but put the onus on the industry to prove to us that it is necessary, rather than to leave it to them to decide when its use is justified. Another thing that would help in this regard is to require the USDA to publish an annual report documenting every instance of food animal depopulation, what methods were used, and justification for those methods.

The Australian emergency planning manual recommends the use bolt +/- secondary method (pithing, bleeding out) or gunshots for mass depopulations of swine in emergency operations. Those are both allowed by US regulation, and are recommended over VSD as methods of depopulation.

If you think the AVMA panel is correct that VSD is our only realistic option for this crisis, then you are acknowledging that the US and Australian system are not equivalent in terms of their ability to conduct depopulation events. My guess is that the reason we can't use captive bolts have to do with the size and intensive nature we've allowed in the US industry - Australia only has about 5% as many swine as the U.S. to my knowledge.

Russia has used VSD to stamp out ASF and I'm pretty sure I've seen reports of it being used in China as well for that purpose. Both counties have swine industries that are more comparable in size to the US than any EU nation. I think that's what DVMD is getting at - if you want to have a system where penetrating bolt can be used, you either need the system to be smaller scale (most countries) or you need to have way more government welfare regulation to force companies into it (EU).

These are fair points. This is honestly what I was hoping to get out of this discussion. It makes sense to compare similarly sized swine populations, I didn't know much about the comparable herd sizes in other countries. I'm not sure we want to look to China or Russia as shining examples of animal welfare unfortunately.

That should be telling - if they wanted to make a statement to disallow it, they would have.

I thought it was more telling that the EU vet I discussed this with hadn't even heard of VSD until this spring.

I think there is room for a more niche market with direct to consumer sales, but taking action that will weaken food safety is not a great idea in my opinion. A better option I think would be to expand the FSIS-inspected mobile slaughter capability. (Mobile state inspected slaughter would be fine too if you could guarantee an in-state only market.) You could also find a way to send emergency support to small abbatoirs. The few I've been to only run one shift vs. large facilities that operate 24/7. You could more than double the processing capacity of small facilities if you increased their access to trained workers and inspectors. The move toward minimal slaughter operations that has already been implemented should probably be included and refined in future planning too (ie running the slaughter with a minimal staff, without further processing, so that social distancing requirements can be met or increased numbers can be slaughtered quickly.)

Great point, again what I was hoping to get from this discussion. How do mobile slaughter operations work, do trucks go directly to the farms? Maybe the federal government could start a loan-forgiveness program for veterinary students who commit to serve for 4 years as a FSIS inspector.

I do think there's an argument to be made that they could have chosen a method that would have been a slower depopulation, but that would have resulted in a quicker death for individual animals given that this wasn't a disease event that required depopulation within 24 hours. The AVMA seems to think this was appropriate though, given the circumstances.

What I'd like to know is whether they would have been able to use penetrating bolts instead if it wasn't the Coronapacalypse.
Like, was this decision partly driven by circumstances like low staffing due to the pandemic / PPE shortages / etc.
Or is it because the industry never has the capacity to do more humane depopulation on its own and would have to rely on the government to provide staffing during a disease outbreak in order to provide a more humane solution. Inquiring taxpayers and voters want to know.

Absolutely. Again, an annual USDA report on these type of events would be nice. And to @StayingPositive2017 's point, if we had a report that detailed the numbers, time frame, and infrastructure availability, we would be able to make much better judgements about the appropriateness of these methods. If the industry has to reach into our taxpayer dollars to be able to afford or justify humane depopulation methods, that is a serious problem to me. There are costs associated with caring for animals, you don't get to cut back on humanity because it is financially inconvenient.

Thinking about this very philosophically last night, it occurred to me that I don't believe any one person or corporation should single-handedly have autonomy over the life and wellbeing of 10s of millions of sentient beings. I know animals are considered property, but at a certain point there is simply too much risk in placing so many thinking, feeling, capable-of-suffering beings under one entity's control. I do recognize the idealism in this comment.
 
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pwny__express

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The vast majority of meat products travel across state lines, so you'd effectively be doing nothing, absolutely nothing about the industry would change from this act. Then tax payers would have to financially support an individual states meat inspection system AND the USDA. Not really a thought out option here in my opinion.

Please name a single industry that was set up and ready to handle a pandemic. Go on. Please tell me do you expect literally every other industry that struggled to keep up with demands to develop a pandemic response effort for the future, just in case, to the tune of thousands of dollars after they have just lost money hand over fist? We are talking that people in these slaughter houses were dying from the virus, that is why so many of the slaughter houses shut down. You can't just send people back into them. And opening more isn't the answer, you would just expose a larger amount of people to a deadly virus. Plus having a "holding place" for animals like this in case this happens so they can be slaughtered later also isn't an option. These animals grow big fast. These farms don't have the space for that. The money to continue to feed animals that once at a certain size are complete losses, they can't be sold. At a certain size/age, pigs aren't even palatable to humans anymore, especially boars. So what exactly are they to do? Plus you increase the risk of viruses and disease developing within the pigs and spreading to an overcrowded system like a wild fire.

Trump is a ***** just because he says he will resolve any liability problems doesn't mean he can do that. Newsflash: He can't. He can say it as much as he wants, but he literally does not have the power to do anything like that.

So yes, they can still sue, but since people believe every drip and drivel that comes out of that *****'s mouth, they won't try. They are also likely scared to lose their jobs.

The US has long never cared about the workers of the country. This isn't a shock to me anymore.

What are you going to do... start shipping slaughterhouse employees all over the country during a pandemic? How you getting them to these other slaughterhouses that are further away? Where are they going to live? Are you going to let their families come with? Their pets? How are you going to provide them with food? Are they going to need to immediately be out at a store in their new location to get food?

Yup, the increase in number is STILL not a solution plus many of those would have been shut down as well. You really think a small privately owned slaughterhouse will be able to stay open better than a government owned one?

You do realize the veterinarians oath includes that bit about public health, right? I don't know if you have seen it given you are in school still but with this pandemic, the public health portion has taken over basically the entire veterinary oath in the industry. Quit literally. No spay or neuter, so lots of feral cats not being TNR, lots of low income families not getting their pets fixed, I am sure many pyos developed that may not have otherwise. No routine care except for young puppies/kittens. No treating of cancers/surgical removal of cancers. Heck, vets refusing/debating about orthopedic procedures. I can tell you a LOT of animals suffered during this pandemic to make way for upholding the public health part of the veterinary oath. I can say that many pets actually died because of how extreme we were limiting services. This wasn't just limited to the VSD used to depopulate these animals to prevent them from suffering later on. This was across the board in the veterinary industry. And it is still impacting the industry. There are still many medication shortages and certain conditions have been impossible to treat/address because of the shortages and funneling of resources to human medicine over veterinary medicine.

Something you might want to start thinking about because if another pandemic happens, you might need to get comfortable with the idea that animals are going to suffer or die in order to prioritize human life and public health.

I don't think listing VSD as "not recommended" is a good idea until we have a fool-proof, proven method of mass depopulation that will work for any situation in which VSD has been used. Until that is developed, I think it needs to remain how it is, otherwise I believe we will see worse suffering of animals than what VSD causes.

Your interpretation of my arguments make it sound like I'm expecting instantaneous changes or a complete overnight upheaval of the agriculture industry. It took ~70 years to go from 10,000 slaughterhouses to 2700 and our population exploded in the meantime. Agriculture has looked different at many points in time throughout human history, it's foolish and short-sighted to believe that the current system will persist indefinitely. 5000 years ago rabbits were a keystone domestic food animal species. Personally I am of the opinion (as are many environmental scientists) that the current system is objectively unsustainable. The demand for animal protein will outpace our environments' capacity to provide it. Not to start another controversial topic on the current global environmental crisis, but it simply can't be solved without addressing the agriculture industry.

I didn't expect any industry to be prepared for this pandemic, although people have predicted for decades there would be a novel respiratory pandemic. At this point in time I can make a similar prediction and essentially guarantee it: there will be another novel respiratory pandemic. So what I damn sure expect now is that the Ag industry, which utterly and completely imploded over the last few months, is DOING SOMETHING to mitigate these events in the future. We have seen the result of the current system stressed to it's limits. It failed, plain and simple. I'm not blaming anyone for what happened currently, but if this happens again 20 or 25 years from now do you really want to see the same result?

In regards to Trump's executive order, you don't think a federal order under the Defense Appropriations Act, which authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to enforce plants remaining open, would be cause to throw out a lawsuit from an employee? Again, you're responding as if I expected these companies to have emergency pandemic plans in place (which I do expect they should have by this time next year) and start bussing abattoirs across the country. I'm speaking out about this now, because I don't want to see history repeat itself in the future. Is it too much to expect this industry to be proactive about their role in this?

I am fully aware of the commitment to public health that is described in the veterinarians oath. The enmeshment of both human and animal welfare is one reason I am in this field and I can accept that animals may suffer and die if it is for the purposes of ensuring public health. I would never suggest that animal lives should ever, at any time, be prioritized over human lives. Clearly the pandemic has impacted every service and industry across the globe. I'm advocating for these pigs because I think we're capable of doing better in the future.
 
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battie

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you don't get to cut back on humanity because it is financially inconvenient.

I've been casually watching this thread, and I am really interested in animal welfare overall. I would love to work in animal welfare, preferably canine.

To this point, we let this happen as a profession all the time in nearly every aspect of veterinary medicine. Small animal medicine, from shelter medicine with overcrowded shelters in the South, to well-off owners that do the bare minimum for their pets. My own brother in law currently has a Golden that was diagnosed with osteosarc last September and all she has is PRN opioids. No amputation. No chemo. Opioids are at the discretion of my brother in law. He does not give them with any sort of regularity and I question his capability to identify her being painful. I have already expressed concern as a family member (cause in-law is no different than blood in my family) and was met with strong resistance from my brother in law and fiance. Literally our biggest fight ever was about this dog several months ago. Dog is still alive and (I think) suffering daily. This is not unique to my family.

I would argue that the pigs that died from VSD had better overall welfare compared to my brother in law's Golden because animal welfare isn't about one instance of bad welfare; it's about the cumulative positive and negative-welfare instances in that animal's life. Which is worse: a horrible, but relatively short death, or a protracted time of gradually decreased welfare over time (which is what this situation sounds like; please correct me if I'm wrong)? Not going to lie, I would personally chose the short, painful death.

I agree that no system in anything is perfect and there is always room for improvement, and industries within and beyond vet med should take their new experiences with COVID to learn and grow. However, I agree with DVMD (and others in the Rant thread over in pre-vet where the same discussion is occurring; you should check it out!) that the producers, veterinarians, and other have done the best they could within the *entire* situation they were in. We can say all we want that money should not drive medial decisions. But that isn't the real world currently and I'm not going to condemn people for working within those means and systems.

I brought this up in the other thread, but I think it's worth mentioning here. My dad worked for a very large oil company for several years prior to COVID. Now, the only people employed by that company are the top 6 people and 2 secretary. Literally the CEO, COO, etc. These 6 people are running 1 well at half rate right now. What used to be a very large oil company with tens of thousands of employees across half the continent, is now reduced to 6 men running 1 well at half the rate so the company can rehire people when/if the economy rebounds enough to rehire people.

My point? Just because a company is large within their field doesn't make them immune to the fact money rules the world. Unless these large meat companies are super transparent like my dad's employer or someone from high up is willing to share info, we have no idea just how these money conversations are going within these meat companies. "Financially inconvenient" is really difficult to gauge right now if you're not involved in those discussions. For all we know, some of these companies may be walking the line of staying open. And if it's coming down to deciding for these pigs to have a better death (though possibly arguable welfare in the meantime) or staying afloat long enough to make it to the other side and be able to rehire old employees, I'm not going to fault these decision makers for making that call. Again, this happens in nearly (if not all?) aspects of vet med.
 
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DVMDream

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Your interpretation of my arguments make it sound like I'm expecting instantaneous changes or a complete overnight upheaval of the agriculture industry. Again, you're responding as if I expected these companies to have emergency pandemic plans in place (which I do expect they should have by this time next year)

You are very contradictory in one single post. Yes, I know in a literal since "overnight" and "one year" aren't the same, but they are the same when you are talking about implementing policy that has never been implemented before. You ARE expecting them to have a solution "overnight" if you want them to have a plan in place while they are still shut down in some regions and there is still a freaking pandemic occurring. Not only occurring, but increasing and spreading like wildfire currently.

"Yes please focus on this while the world is burning around you and there are bigger issues going on." That is quite literally what you are expecting.


It took ~70 years to go from 10,000 slaughterhouses to 2700 and our population exploded in the meantime. Agriculture has looked different at many points in time throughout human history, it's foolish and short-sighted to believe that the current system will persist indefinitely. 5000 years ago rabbits were a keystone domestic food animal species.

What exactly is your point here? I don't think anyone has said "let's never change what we have now". Actually I know no one has said that. Yeah, life changes over decades, centuries and millenia, of course it does. Are you trying to make a point about that?

Personally I am of the opinion (as are many environmental scientists) that the current system is objectively unsustainable. The demand for animal protein will outpace our environments' capacity to provide it. Not to start another controversial topic on the current global environmental crisis, but it simply can't be solved without addressing the agriculture industry.

Humans have been outliving the Earth's resources for decades. Again, what is your point? I have already addressed this. You want less agriculture you need less humans.
You want less water used, you need less humans
You want less oil used, you need less humans
You want less electricity used, you need less humans
You want less air pollution, you need less humans
I can keep going.

The entire environmental crisis can be parsed down to "we have too many humans on Earth". Period. This isn't just a demand for animal protein. Demand for vegetable and fruit also decimates the planet as we don't have people really hand picking fields or hand towing fields anymore. We have large machines doing that. The fertilized ability of land gets used up after each crop is harvested, it is why crop rotation is a big thing. It is why those that do argue that all human life can be sustained on a vegetarian diet are wrong. There is only so much fertile land on Earth and with what is available it wouldn't be able to grow enough crop to feed the population of humans we currently have, not only that it would require clearing large amounts of currently protected forests. Not only that be plant growth and crop farming leads to erosion and other environmental impacts that many don't discuss.

As humans, we have managed to realize that population control is necessary for every species on the planet. We control forests, deserts, deer, elk, invasive species, non-invasive one, cats, dogs, etc and so on. The only animal species we have failed to realize needs to be controlled as well is the human species. We will outgrow our capacity. Period. We have known this fact for a long time.

I didn't expect any industry to be prepared for this pandemic, although people have predicted for decades there would be a novel respiratory pandemic. At this point in time I can make a similar prediction and essentially guarantee it: there will be another novel respiratory pandemic. So what I damn sure expect now is that the Ag industry, which utterly and completely imploded over the last few months, is DOING SOMETHING to mitigate these events in the future. We have seen the result of the current system stressed to it's limits. It failed, plain and simple. I'm not blaming anyone for what happened currently, but if this happens again 20 or 25 years from now do you really want to see the same result?

Why not? Seriously why did you not expect them to be prepared? If it has not only been predicted for decades (it has not arguing here), it has even occurred within the last decade, why weren't you expecting them to be prepared?
Everyone can make that prediction, novel respiratory viruses happen every so many years. It is a fact, not a prediction.

The point I have been making is there isn't anything for them to "do". I have countered all your arguments and you just double down and repeat them without addressing the counter points, so I will be more detailed.

1. Increasing abattoirs will not work. These facilities require a certain number of people working in small enclosed work environments. There really isn't a way to "socially distance". These establishments are at high risk for quick and easy spread of a human pandemic. As we have seen. It does not matter if you have 10,000 of them or 2,500 of them. Does not matter. You still need x number of people at each location to make it function. You also would need 10K veterinarians to oversee these facilities. Are you prepared to become a meat inspection veterinarian? Just because you can build the facility doesn't mean you can make them work, staff them or have the necessary bodies needed for them to function.

It is like the demand to increase ventilators, yes, we need to increase ventilators but we quite literally have a stop point in which you will only have so many people trained to be able to actually place a person on and monitor them on the ventilator. There is a human limit on these things too. You can have 100 million ventilators eventually but if you only have 1000 people who can operate them, you have 1000 ventilators.

Plus you made the argument that Trump's executive order to force people to go back to work in these facilities was unwise, which it was, but want to argue to make more of them and send more people into harm's way? I don't understand.

2. You can't just build buildings on a farm for a "we might need this to house 1000's of animals in case a pandemic hits". First reason being there likely isn't the space. Second, pig operations have very strict growth and sanitary protocols with pigs of a certain size/age in one building, then moving to the next when at the next stage of growth and in between each movement of the pigs as they reach the different period of growth there is a complete sanitary clean out of the prior building to eliminate any potential disease spread between groups at different points in the growing cycle. So now you are going to need an unlimited number of buildings to maybe hold mature pigs for an undetermined amount of time and as these get crowded out from the pigs growing, they will become stressed, attack one another, become diseased and potentially spread that disease across the farm, again a huge loss. The third reason, meat animals have a time limit. Like milk. Or medication. Quite literally an expiration date. Pigs after a certain size and age can not be used in slaughter anymore. You can't ask a farmer to continue to spend $$$ feeding a pig that should have been slaughtered weeks prior until there is a place for them to maybe go, maybe not. He will lose money on feeding/caring for that animal as well as the money he would have made selling that pig for slaughter. You will make farmers go bankrupt. Get it now?

3. We have already addressed why slaughter on farm isn't an option, not going to get into that. Even then you'd have to expect a farmer to purchase and store a large amount of meat in giant freezers that would be cost-prohibitive to his farm.

4. Quite literally the option is mass depopulation when these things occur. Now, we can get into that there might be a better option than VSD, which there may be, but it has not as of yet, been determined what that option is. If you want to give input on a better option, go for it, but criticism alone is of no help. Screaming "this is wrong" is not of any help. Like throwing a cup of water on a wildfire. So either brain storm, no one is asking you to give up your career aspirations to brain storm other options. You don't have to be a pig vet to say to "hey I thought of x for this issue, do you think that might work why or why not?"

In regards to Trump's executive order, you don't think a federal order under the Defense Appropriations Act, which authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to enforce plants remaining open, would be cause to throw out a lawsuit from an employee? and start bussing abattoirs across the country. I'm speaking out about this now, because I don't want to see history repeat itself in the future. Is it too much to expect this industry to be proactive about their role in this?

Forcing places to be open and absolving them of responsibility are not one in the same. The President can't create and sign anything into law. An executive order, is not a law. It is literally saying that his Secretary of Agriculture can control the opening of food processing plants. It is not a law, interpretation of a law and does not absolve anyone of anything they might be accused of. The order also specifically states that these facilities have to provide the recommended protections to the employees as outlined by the CDC, so if they aren't following CDC guidelines, they can be sued.

So, yes, I do believe this executive order is just that allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to oversee opening of facilities.

I don't know what you mean by "bussing" abattoirs, but already touched upon why increase number seem great in theory but maybe not functional in reality.

This history will repeat itself. I expect it to, everyone should expect it to. Probably later this year during hurricane season the food supply will be hit a little, in a smaller impact so most don't notice it, but it will take a hit. This is the reality of food production on a scale needed to feed a global population of 7.8 billion people and we still aren't even able to feed everyone. I don't know why you think this is the first time mass depopulation of food animals has occurred, this happens, not just in response to pandemics, but also after massive floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. This will repeat itself, many times. Many times. This has been one of the many predicted outcomes of having too many humans on Earth. We are slowly killing ourselves, it will happen. It will either be via something like this and mass starvation, because there is no way to make a sustainable, fool proof, accident proof, pandemic proof, famine proof food supply. Or via literally heating ourselves off the planet. Or via heating the planet enough there are enough natural disasters that wipe us all out.

Again, the answer here is human population control, and no, I am not suggesting genocide or killing people but limiting births and family sizes would be a terrific start.

I am fully aware of the commitment to public health that is described in the veterinarians oath. The enmeshment of both human and animal welfare is one reason I am in this field and I can accept that animals may suffer and die if it is for the purposes of ensuring public health. I would never suggest that animal lives should ever, at any time, be prioritized over human lives. Clearly the pandemic has impacted every service and industry across the globe. I'm advocating for these pigs because I think we're capable of doing better in the future.

I'm not even ok with how quickly the veterinary community flipped over to public health and public health only and allowed such severe suffering of animals. It has been heart breaking to be honest, in my opinion. Honestly, with what I have seen, these pigs had the better end of the deal compared to some of the animals I have seen.

We can't even do better for humans and I get it, resources are limited. It would be wonderful to have a stockpile of ventilators, PPE and certain medications. But medications are expensive and they expire and dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of propofol, methocarbamol, fentanyl, versed, etc each time they expire and a pandemic has not occurred would not be wise or financially acceptable.

I know many veterinary clinics that are wiped out of medications so much so that they just can't treat certain cases. The medications are on widespread backorder. It is awful.

We have overwhelmed hospital and medical facilities, over 100,000 dead people in 3 months time and while the loss of all that food was horrible, in the grand scheme of what is occurring, I think we have a lot to fix and address elsewhere first.
 
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pwny__express

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You are very contradictory in one single post. Yes, I know in a literal since "overnight" and "one year" aren't the same, but they are the same when you are talking about implementing policy that has never been implemented before. You ARE expecting them to have a solution "overnight" if you want them to have a plan in place while they are still shut down in some regions and there is still a freaking pandemic occurring. Not only occurring, but increasing and spreading like wildfire currently.

"Yes please focus on this while the world is burning around you and there are bigger issues going on." That is quite literally what you are expecting.

I'm sorry but for an industry that just completely self-destructed over the course of a few weeks, claiming there is "a food shortage", as a result of the pandemic, they should be expected to investigate internally and identify failure points, vulnerabilities, and opportunities for improvement. Not asking for a solution, just participation in finding one. This is not asking very much in my opinion ... not asking them to convert to feudalism or space farming. During Apollo 13 NASA scientists figured out how to keep astronauts alive using cardboard and towels and bring them back to earth from the far side of the moon, and they had like 8 hours to figure it out. We're capable of solving some pretty complicated problems if enough people give a **** about it. Further, if the industry claims to be so vital to our national security, providers of the protein that sustains our society, our government should be demanding answers from them.

What exactly is your point here? I don't think anyone has said "let's never change what we have now". Actually I know no one has said that. Yeah, life changes over decades, centuries and millenia, of course it does. Are you trying to make a point about that?

All you've done is give me reasons why our current system can't be changed from how it currently exists. I'm not asking for immediate fixes, just improvement. If next year they only kill 5 million pigs with VSD I'll consider it a success. Maybe I'm more optimistic or idealistic than you about some of these problems, but if we are going to expect our agricultural system to be improved in 25 years from where it is today, we have to start talking about it now.

Humans have been outliving the Earth's resources for decades. Again, what is your point? I have already addressed this. You want less agriculture you need less humans.
You want less water used, you need less humans
You want less oil used, you need less humans
You want less electricity used, you need less humans
You want less air pollution, you need less humans
I can keep going.

The continued exponential growth of our population is an indication to me that we've not yet reached the tipping point of resource availability. I have to say your answer to everything "less humans" is profoundly defeatist. Do you really feel like we've reached the pinnacle of human innovation? Perhaps there are some possibilities you haven't considered because they don't yet exist in your brain?

As humans, we have managed to realize that population control is necessary for every species on the planet. We control forests, deserts, deer, elk, invasive species, non-invasive one, cats, dogs, etc and so on. The only animal species we have failed to realize needs to be controlled as well is the human species. We will outgrow our capacity. Period. We have known this fact for a long time.

I'll await your practical solutions for this ... thus far in my opinion we haven't found any ethical way to limit human reproduction.

The point I have been making is there isn't anything for them to "do". I have countered all your arguments and you just double down and repeat them without addressing the counter points, so I will be more detailed.

This is your opinion, I would disagree. I feel like many of my arguments remain unanswered. You've spent a long time arguing against things I'm not even suggesting. And I've responded to basically every point you've made in paragraph form.

1. Increasing abattoirs will not work. These facilities require a certain number of people working in small enclosed work environments. There really isn't a way to "socially distance". These establishments are at high risk for quick and easy spread of a human pandemic. As we have seen. It does not matter if you have 10,000 of them or 2,500 of them. Does not matter. You still need x number of people at each location to make it function. You also would need 10K veterinarians to oversee these facilities. Are you prepared to become a meat inspection veterinarian? Just because you can build the facility doesn't mean you can make them work, staff them or have the necessary bodies needed for them to function.

It is like the demand to increase ventilators, yes, we need to increase ventilators but we quite literally have a stop point in which you will only have so many people trained to be able to actually place a person on and monitor them on the ventilator. There is a human limit on these things too. You can have 100 million ventilators eventually but if you only have 1000 people who can operate them, you have 1000 ventilators.

Plus you made the argument that Trump's executive order to force people to go back to work in these facilities was unwise, which it was, but want to argue to make more of them and send more people into harm's way? I don't understand.

2. You can't just build buildings on a farm for a "we might need this to house 1000's of animals in case a pandemic hits". First reason being there likely isn't the space. Second, pig operations have very strict growth and sanitary protocols with pigs of a certain size/age in one building, then moving to the next when at the next stage of growth and in between each movement of the pigs as they reach the different period of growth there is a complete sanitary clean out of the prior building to eliminate any potential disease spread between groups at different points in the growing cycle. So now you are going to need an unlimited number of buildings to maybe hold mature pigs for an undetermined amount of time and as these get crowded out from the pigs growing, they will become stressed, attack one another, become diseased and potentially spread that disease across the farm, again a huge loss. The third reason, meat animals have a time limit. Like milk. Or medication. Quite literally an expiration date. Pigs after a certain size and age can not be used in slaughter anymore. You can't ask a farmer to continue to spend $$$ feeding a pig that should have been slaughtered weeks prior until there is a place for them to maybe go, maybe not. He will lose money on feeding/caring for that animal as well as the money he would have made selling that pig for slaughter. You will make farmers go bankrupt. Get it now?

3. We have already addressed why slaughter on farm isn't an option, not going to get into that. Even then you'd have to expect a farmer to purchase and store a large amount of meat in giant freezers that would be cost-prohibitive to his farm.

4. Quite literally the option is mass depopulation when these things occur. Now, we can get into that there might be a better option than VSD, which there may be, but it has not as of yet, been determined what that option is. If you want to give input on a better option, go for it, but criticism alone is of no help. Screaming "this is wrong" is not of any help. Like throwing a cup of water on a wildfire. So either brain storm, no one is asking you to give up your career aspirations to brain storm other options. You don't have to be a pig vet to say to "hey I thought of x for this issue, do you think that might work why or why not?"

In summary: all reasons why there aren't any solutions? This is simply lacking the creativity to see possibilities beyond what currently exists. I don't know the answers, I am actively seeking them. I'm sorry its only been 2 days and I haven't come up with a solution yet. Thats why I started this thread - to debate people like you and feel out the struggles and difficulties the industry faces. So yes, I am screaming "this is wrong" because it is wrong and objectionable to my core as a human being that feels empathy for other living things. I am also educating myself, trying to engage with those who are more knowledgable, offering practical solutions that take the first steps to creating change, and taking action to make my and other's voices heard. I'm not saying I'm right on the matter, I'm saying maybe you're wrong.

Again, the answer here is human population control, and no, I am not suggesting genocide or killing people but limiting births and family sizes would be a terrific start.

I just will never agree with you here. You would rather we modify the human behavior of reproduction rather than the way we kill and eat animals? And I just don't know how you could believe this is a good idea and simultaneously preach about public health. Do you know what limiting births and family sizes looked like in China? Forced abortions, forced sterilizations, human rights abuses on enormous scales.

I'm not even ok with how quickly the veterinary community flipped over to public health and public health only and allowed such severe suffering of animals. It has been heart breaking to be honest, in my opinion. Honestly, with what I have seen, these pigs had the better end of the deal compared to some of the animals I have seen.

It's the magnitude that is a problem. I like to think I'm not a fresh bleeding-heart vet student, if you showed me one pig that died of VSD I wouldn't blink in the grand scheme of things. 10 million animals suffering in this way has got to give you pause.

We have overwhelmed hospital and medical facilities, over 100,000 dead people in 3 months time and while the loss of all that food was horrible, in the grand scheme of what is occurring, I think we have a lot to fix and address elsewhere first.

Come on. There will always be a reasons why something else is a priority. Iowa Select Farms is not going to be spending their time figuring out how to solve our healthcare crisis or on the front lines researching coronavirus treatments. The AVMA can expend some resources to at least acknowledge and bring some attention to this issue, if only for the fact that it is a clear and present animal welfare debate? This is their job? Animal welfare abuses have occurred since the beginning of human existence, and we used to do some pretty terrible things to animals. Things are generally a lot more humane now than they used to be, and its only because people spoke up and called for change.
 

pwny__express

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To this point, we let this happen as a profession all the time in nearly every aspect of veterinary medicine. Small animal medicine, from shelter medicine with overcrowded shelters in the South, to well-off owners that do the bare minimum for their pets. My own brother in law currently has a Golden that was diagnosed with osteosarc last September and all she has is PRN opioids. No amputation. No chemo. Opioids are at the discretion of my brother in law. He does not give them with any sort of regularity and I question his capability to identify her being painful. I have already expressed concern as a family member (cause in-law is no different than blood in my family) and was met with strong resistance from my brother in law and fiance. Literally our biggest fight ever was about this dog several months ago. Dog is still alive and (I think) suffering daily. This is not unique to my family.

I would argue that the pigs that died from VSD had better overall welfare compared to my brother in law's Golden because animal welfare isn't about one instance of bad welfare; it's about the cumulative positive and negative-welfare instances in that animal's life. Which is worse: a horrible, but relatively short death, or a protracted time of gradually decreased welfare over time (which is what this situation sounds like; please correct me if I'm wrong)? Not going to lie, I would personally chose the short, painful death.

I would disagree, to me animal welfare is not *just* about a cumulative balance of welfare experiences. If that was true, we would all think it was perfectly ok to take an elderly dog that has lived a generally happy life and torture it to death over an hour. Individual acute instances of animal welfare abuses are just as important, especially when they're magnified x 10 million times. Thats truly unfortunate for your brother in law's Golden, but at the end of the day it's no different than being slowly eaten on a savannah ... its one animal at the mercy of nature.

I agree that no system in anything is perfect and there is always room for improvement, and industries within and beyond vet med should take their new experiences with COVID to learn and grow. However, I agree with DVMD (and others in the Rant thread over in pre-vet where the same discussion is occurring; you should check it out!) that the producers, veterinarians, and other have done the best they could within the *entire* situation they were in. We can say all we want that money should not drive medial decisions. But that isn't the real world currently and I'm not going to condemn people for working within those means and systems.

I'm not condemning any people, I'm condemning VSD. Even if it is a necessity now we can only start to look for alternatives by acknowledging that improvement is necessary.

I brought this up in the other thread, but I think it's worth mentioning here. My dad worked for a very large oil company for several years prior to COVID. Now, the only people employed by that company are the top 6 people and 2 secretary. Literally the CEO, COO, etc. These 6 people are running 1 well at half rate right now. What used to be a very large oil company with tens of thousands of employees across half the continent, is now reduced to 6 men running 1 well at half the rate so the company can rehire people when/if the economy rebounds enough to rehire people.

My point? Just because a company is large within their field doesn't make them immune to the fact money rules the world. Unless these large meat companies are super transparent like my dad's employer or someone from high up is willing to share info, we have no idea just how these money conversations are going within these meat companies. "Financially inconvenient" is really difficult to gauge right now if you're not involved in those discussions. For all we know, some of these companies may be walking the line of staying open. And if it's coming down to deciding for these pigs to have a better death (though possibly arguable welfare in the meantime) or staying afloat long enough to make it to the other side and be able to rehire old employees, I'm not going to fault these decision makers for making that call. Again, this happens in nearly (if not all?) aspects of vet med.

These are fair points.
 

DVMDream

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I'm sorry but for an industry that just completely self-destructed over the course of a few weeks, claiming there is "a food shortage", as a result of the pandemic, they should be expected to investigate internally and identify failure points, vulnerabilities, and opportunities for improvement. Not asking for a solution, just participation in finding one.

Umm, where have they NOT participated? There has been literally discussion about these issues in the industry for many years among agriculture people, farmers, food animal vets, etc.

Just look at the progress made in food production over the last even 50 years. To claim they haven't been discussing is false.


All you've done is give me reasons why our current system can't be changed from how it currently exists. I'm not asking for immediate fixes, just improvement. If next year they only kill 5 million pigs with VSD I'll consider it a success. Maybe I'm more optimistic or idealistic than you about some of these problems, but if we are going to expect our agricultural system to be improved in 25 years from where it is today, we have to start talking about it now.

Cool, since you've got a cool few million dollars lying around, you can donate all the money to make this perfect dream food production system in your head that literally can't be taken down by famine, pandemic or natural disaster. Basically I think your dream production system only exists in fantasy.

I never said that we shouldn't try to find other solutions to VSD, I am arguing the points you made earlier, and you did, about making holding areas for these animals until they can be slaughtered......

While perhaps it's not practical, Iowa Select Farms, JBS, Smithfield, etc could choose to construct overflow housing and invest in stocking feed for these animals.

See? Not making up that you said just that. Then you are telling me you didn't say it. You did. I countered that "solution" you now claim you never said it.



The continued exponential growth of our population is an indication to me that we've not yet reached the tipping point of resource availability. I have to say your answer to everything "less humans" is profoundly defeatist. Do you really feel like we've reached the pinnacle of human innovation? Perhaps there are some possibilities you haven't considered because they don't yet exist in your brain?

We have long surpassed the tipping point of human expansion here on Earth. It is not defeatist to say "less humans", that is the answer. Unless we have a plan in place for where all the humans on Earth will go when **** really starts hitting the fan with climate change, limited access to clean water, etc... we shouldn't be exponentially growing. The fact we have starving people in the US and around the world proves we have long surpassed a tipping point. There are US cities that don't have access to clean and safe drinking water. The resources aren't there or can't reach these people. We are well over a tipping point and have been for a long time. You and I just happened to be born in a location that we are privileged enough to not have to see the limited resources on a daily basis.


I'll await your practical solutions for this ... thus far in my opinion we haven't found any ethical way to limit human reproduction.

I have unpopular opinions on human reproduction that I am not going to get into here. Suffice to say, I don't see anything wrong with an x number of children law and heavy fines if those laws aren't followed. Of course humans are selfish and want what they want. So if someone has decided they want 5+ children, that is what they are doing. Having 5+ children is NOT a need, it is a want and sometimes we can't get what we want. Now, humans do need to reproduce to have younger generations replacing the older ones, but not in the astronomical ratio it currently is at. There is zero reason to have 5 children, this isn't 1875 they don't need to work the farm and 50% of them aren't going to die from preventable disease anymore.

This is your opinion, I would disagree. I feel like many of my arguments remain unanswered. You've spent a long time arguing against things I'm not even suggesting. And I've responded to basically every point you've made in paragraph form.

See above I quite literally quoted what you stated and are now claiming you didn't state. Your arguments have been more than answered. Way beyond answered, you just don't like the answers. Meh. Sometimes we can't always get what we want.

You keep arguing back "But VSD is bad" and I keep saying "yup, I agree, but these are the other options you mentioned or have been mentioned and why they won't work." I then say "maybe we can focus on finding something else other than VSD and you keep going "but VSD is bad and you aren't listening to my argument". Nope, definitely acknowledged you, answered you, explained other solutions you and others have mentioned and why they can't work and you still just I dunno... have some fantasy solution that you can't even articulate other than "make it better".


In summary: all reasons why there aren't any solutions? This is simply lacking the creativity to see possibilities beyond what currently exists. I don't know the answers, I am actively seeking them. I'm sorry its only been 2 days and I haven't come up with a solution yet. Thats why I started this thread - to debate people like you and feel out the struggles and difficulties the industry faces. So yes, I am screaming "this is wrong" because it is wrong and objectionable to my core as a human being that feels empathy for other living things. I am also educating myself, trying to engage with those who are more knowledgable, offering practical solutions that take the first steps to creating change, and taking action to make my and other's voices heard. I'm not saying I'm right on the matter, I'm saying maybe you're wrong.

That is the point here, we have explained to you some of the different suggested answers and why they can't work. If anyone is "lacking creativity here" it is you. You just keep circling around to "this sucks do something" and I keep going "yup it does, here are the somethings that have been discussed and why the can't work" and you go "well you just aren't being creative enough".... ok, YOUR TURN THEN.

Go ahead... what is your solution. Don't repeat the ones I already explained above because they have already been discussed.





I just will never agree with you here. You would rather we modify the human behavior of reproduction rather than the way we kill and eat animals? And I just don't know how you could believe this is a good idea and simultaneously preach about public health. Do you know what limiting births and family sizes looked like in China? Forced abortions, forced sterilizations, human rights abuses on enormous scales.

Again where have I ever stated let's not find an alternate to VSD? Go ahead, find the post I said let's use VSD and VSD only and seek no other solution. That's right, I haven't. I don't consider it modifying human behavior. Humans used to have large numbers of children to work on the fields and help in the home, basically children were used as labor to keep the home running. Also, having 5+ children was normal because many children would not survive to adulthood. We have moved beyond both of these. We have health care that keeps our children living and we don't need children running the farm/homestead. If you want agriculture to "move forward" we need to acknowledge that there is no reason to have a large number of children other than you want to and when you have a planet already struggling with the number of people that are on it, maybe, just maybe, we should back off a bit.


It's the magnitude that is a problem. I like to think I'm not a fresh bleeding-heart vet student, if you showed me one pig that died of VSD I wouldn't blink in the grand scheme of things. 10 million animals suffering in this way has got to give you pause.

We've already discussed the magnitude issue as well. I have addressed that in a few posts.



Come on. There will always be a reasons why something else is a priority. Iowa Select Farms is not going to be spending their time figuring out how to solve our healthcare crisis or on the front lines researching coronavirus treatments. The AVMA can expend some resources to at least acknowledge and bring some attention to this issue, if only for the fact that it is a clear and present animal welfare debate? This is their job? Animal welfare abuses have occurred since the beginning of human existence, and we used to do some pretty terrible things to animals. Things are generally a lot more humane now than they used to be, and its only because people spoke up and called for change.

The AVMA is useless, seriously, just give it up. I don't see an animal welfare debate here. The options were to VSD these animals or let them grow too big, fight and suffer to death. Sure, we can discuss VSD alternatives, but again, we are all still waiting for you to suggest alternatives. You haven't. I think you need to step away and go "be creative" as you blame me not being and think of these alternative methods and then come back.

ISF is probably more focused on making sure they don't shut down entirely right now and can continue to still provide food to the world. I didn't suggest they were going to solve the healthcare crisis. I suggested there are much bigger issues than how these pigs were mass depopulated, both in food production and around the world.

The AVMA is being hounded by so many issues right now. Food shortages, closed facilities, small animal clinics being limited in their capacity to provide care, medication shortages and so on, not that they are helpful with anything just there is a lot going on that I don't think you even know about. I am not saying, don't address the VSD issue I am saying, right now, in this moment, when everything is on fire, should we focus on the fire or the smoke?
 
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pwny__express

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Umm, where have they NOT participated? There has been literally discussion about these issues in the industry for many years among agriculture people, farmers, food animal vets, etc.

Just look at the progress made in food production over the last even 50 years. To claim they haven't been discussing is false.

I'm sure they're doing their part, clearly the current status of the food animal production system is a testament to their prioritization of animal welfare.

Cool, since you've got a cool few million dollars lying around, you can donate all the money to make this perfect dream food production system in your head that literally can't be taken down by famine, pandemic or natural disaster. Basically I think your dream production system only exists in fantasy.

I never said that we shouldn't try to find other solutions to VSD, I am arguing the points you made earlier, and you did, about making holding areas for these animals until they can be slaughtered......

So unless I'm a millionaire my opinion on the matter is invalid? You've spent a good bit of your responses making assumptions about my stance and putting words in my mouth. I never asked for an invulnerable system. In no comment or post did I ever ask for those things. When the levees in New Orleans failed during Katrina, no one said "this is fine, no problem here" - it was a vulnerability that a natural disaster exposed, to ignore it is to allow it to happen again.

See? Not making up that you said just that. Then you are telling me you didn't say it. You did. I countered that "solution" you now claim you never said it.

As everyone reading this can see, my statement "While perhaps it's not practical, Iowa Select Farms, JBS, Smithfield, etc could choose to construct overflow housing and invest in stocking feed for these animals" is qualified by the beginning of the sentence, "perhaps it's not practical." I point out in the very sentence that I don't believe it is a practical option, and in no comment did I ever claim to have not said it. So congrats? You spent an entire paragraph explaining why it is an impractical solution, which I already agreed with.

Also, it appears you missed the primary point of that argument, I'll summarize for you: these animals being killed via VSD are perfectly healthy. They are not suffering from any disease or pathogen that is compromising their welfare. "Unacceptable animal welfare standards" would be the eventual result of overcrowding and underfeeding, if nothing is done. So following this logic, hypothetically if there were no financial constraints, all of the problems you mention could be solved with money. So we can all agree that these animals died in a horrible way because they are considered valueless to the people that own them. Again, the Ag industry is using VSD because it is the cheapest solution and the AVMA allowed it. Get it now?

We have long surpassed the tipping point of human expansion here on Earth. It is not defeatist to say "less humans", that is the answer. Unless we have a plan in place for where all the humans on Earth will go when **** really starts hitting the fan with climate change, limited access to clean water, etc... we shouldn't be exponentially growing. The fact we have starving people in the US and around the world proves we have long surpassed a tipping point.

I just ... "less humans?" Are you volunteering? Clearly our unrestrained population growth is a problem but your ethics are seriously in question if this is your answer. If you can't see how our global agricultural system is contributing to human and animal suffering, in addition to environmental collapse throughout many ecosystems, you are being willfully blind to this reality.

I have unpopular opinions on human reproduction that I am not going to get into here. Suffice to say, I don't see anything wrong with an x number of children law and heavy fines if those laws aren't followed. Of course humans are selfish and want what they want. So if someone has decided they want 5+ children, that is what they are doing. Having 5+ children is NOT a need, it is a want and sometimes we can't get what we want. Now, humans do need to reproduce to have younger generations replacing the older ones, but not in the astronomical ratio it currently is at. There is zero reason to have 5 children, this isn't 1875 they don't need to work the farm and 50% of them aren't going to die from preventable disease anymore.

"Unpopular opinions" is putting it lightly. You say you're not getting into it here, yet you go on to justify these opinions, so this is really key for any else reading this, and shouldn't be ignored: these opinions are ethically bankrupt. You've really thought this through, child restriction laws with heavy fines? You want a world where the rich and powerful can purchase larger families than everyone else? This is a hop and a skip away from eugenics, mass extermination of humans is the next exit.

Just to recap our personal versions of fantasy land, it sounds like I want a fantasy world where we stop heat-stroking pigs to death, and your fantasy world consists of dystopian fascism with forced abortion and sterilization (see: China).

This truly has nothing to do with the original debate, but anyone reading this should understand the discordance between our opinions, especially since you're accusing me of failing to make an articulate argument. I challenge anyone reading this to read through the thread and come to that conclusion yourself. The only argument you've made in response is for modifying human reproduction, these opinions are hardly unpopular, they are down right offensive.

See above I quite literally quoted what you stated and are now claiming you didn't state. Your arguments have been more than answered. Way beyond answered, you just don't like the answers. Meh. Sometimes we can't always get what we want.

You keep arguing back "But VSD is bad" and I keep saying "yup, I agree, but these are the other options you mentioned or have been mentioned and why they won't work." I then say "maybe we can focus on finding something else other than VSD and you keep going "but VSD is bad and you aren't listening to my argument". Nope, definitely acknowledged you, answered you, explained other solutions you and others have mentioned and why they can't work and you still just I dunno... have some fantasy solution that you can't even articulate other than "make it better".

The posts are all here for everyone to read and come to their own conclusions about my position, your opinion on the discussion is certainly interesting. If that is all you've taken away from this discussion, either your reading comprehension has failed you recently or you aren't paying attention. Yes, I've made it clear that I condemn VSD, but I've also brought up actionable steps that could be taken. These steps do not eliminate VSD, they do not solve world hunger, they do not prevent future collapse of the industry. These are the first steps. They may lead to other reforms, and they shine a light on depopulation and VSD. This was never about solving the problem of VSD over the course of a week on the SDN forums, that was never the goal, nor was it the stated goal.

1. re-classify VSD to "not recommended" - your argument against this is nonsense. As I said, this would not eliminate VSD as an option. We don't need an alternative depopulation method to re-classify VSD. It will still be used when the industry deems it necessary, including for purposes of protecting public health.

2. protect the definition of "euthanasia" - maybe not legally possible but there's literally no reason be opposed to this.

3. require annual USDA reports detailing every use of depopulation, what methods were used, how many animals were involved, what company was involved, and what justification was given - you never responded to this suggestion.

That is the point here, we have explained to you some of the different suggested answers and why they can't work. If anyone is "lacking creativity here" it is you. You just keep circling around to "this sucks do something" and I keep going "yup it does, here are the somethings that have been discussed and why the can't work" and you go "well you just aren't being creative enough".... ok, YOUR TURN THEN.

Go ahead... what is your solution. Don't repeat the ones I already explained above because they have already been discussed.

See my thoughts above ... I literally am actively doing something about this, preparing to let the AVMA hear my voice on the matter. If I circled back to the points above again, its because you feel you've responded to my suggestions adequately, I feel otherwise as I mentioned. Clearly we won't see eye to eye on the subject and I don't want to keep going in circles, but do you see how that works? Let's maybe just agree to disagree on this topic.

Again where have I ever stated let's not find an alternate to VSD? Go ahead, find the post I said let's use VSD and VSD only and seek no other solution. That's right, I haven't. I don't consider it modifying human behavior. Humans used to have large numbers of children to work on the fields and help in the home, basically children were used as labor to keep the home running. Also, having 5+ children was normal because many children would not survive to adulthood. We have moved beyond both of these. We have health care that keeps our children living and we don't need children running the farm/homestead. If you want agriculture to "move forward" we need to acknowledge that there is no reason to have a large number of children other than you want to and when you have a planet already struggling with the number of people that are on it, maybe, just maybe, we should back off a bit.

I never accused you of making such a statement, but since I've been the only voice in this thread saying "hey, maybe we look at this VSD thing and see what else we could do?" and you've spent the thread detailing every reason why the current system is unchangeable, its hard not to reach that conclusion. And here we go with the restricting family size again. This has been your only solution, see my comments above.

The AVMA is useless, seriously, just give it up. I don't see an animal welfare debate here. The options were to VSD these animals or let them grow too big, fight and suffer to death. Sure, we can discuss VSD alternatives, but again, we are all still waiting for you to suggest alternatives. You haven't. I think you need to step away and go "be creative" as you blame me not being and think of these alternative methods and then come back.

I will not give it up. And we're quite literally having an animal welfare debate about this very topic right now. Do you think this is an isolated conversation, and the veterinary community is not discussing this in many other forums and venues? This thread was never about suggesting alternatives to VSD, I pointed out in one of the very first posts that the accepted conclusion was there are no alternatives. This thread has been about getting to the core issues that predisposed the industry to failure, as well as discussing various industry reforms and what they might look like in practice. Other posters seemed to get that and added relevant comments where they *gasp* dared to consider possibilities beyond what currently exists.

The AVMA is being hounded by so many issues right now. Food shortages, closed facilities, small animal clinics being limited in their capacity to provide care, medication shortages and so on, not that they are helpful with anything just there is a lot going on that I don't think you even know about. I am not saying, don't address the VSD issue I am saying, right now, in this moment, when everything is on fire, should we focus on the fire or the smoke?

Great, I intend to hound them as much as possible on this issue. It's literally their job. But sure, I'll wait ... should I just plan to check in with you every few days until you think it's appropriate to bring up?

I appreciate the discourse but generally I've felt you've been quite sanctimonious and condescending throughout. You keep saying the AVMA is useless and I should give up ... just not going to happen. If anything this conversation has left me even more validated and invested in pursuing change, so good job?

Perhaps it's true and the AVMA is useless. That remains to be seen. I know the deck is stacked against me, and maybe it's unlikely that the AVMA even gives me the time of day. I certainly hope you're around to eat your words if I'm successful.
 

DVMDream

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I'm only going to say a few things because you put words into my mouth that were never stated.

1. I do not believe in forced sterilization or abortion and never will. I do believe we have a duty to control our population size. I realize this isn't a black/white issue with easy solutions. It is full of gray crap. We can't continue to complain about environmental issues without acknowledging that human population growth is the biggest negative to the environment. This is backed by science. I'm not trying to be a dick about it, it is just fact. The more people there are, the more agriculture is needed, it has to be recognized the two are very related. Basic supply and demand. More humans= more demand for agriculture = need for bigger supply= harder to manage animal welfare due to large scale.

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is one the government isn’t telling you about

2. Hey I'll be happy if the AVMA listens to you. I hope they do. I'm not disagreeing that things need to change, I'm asking you how you think they can. What do you think can occur to our current process that will help? I've highlighted a few things and why they can't currently work. Maybe you've got ideas to make them work? That's all I've been asking what are your ideas?

And if you get the AVMA to listen, I've got about 10,000 colleagues of ours who have been trying to get issues addressed for decades who'd love to know how you did it.

3. No you don't have to be rich to have an opinion, nor did I suggest that. I pointed out that the proposed solutions that have been mentioned would cost millions, we can proceed on those is someone is willing to donate the funds needed. And it will cost millions to those who don't have the money....the farmers, it isn't going to affect the big corporations. It'll kill the small farms that already work on shoestring budgets. Yes, it sucks money is involved, but that's the truth, I don't foresee a world not relying on money as a factor anytime in my lifetime.

And yeah go look in the other thread as wild zoo mentioned.
 
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WildZoo

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I'm sure they're doing their part, clearly the current status of the food animal production system is a testament to
It's a heck of a lot better than it used to be. And that's not to say it's great, but if we're talking about making improvements in the industry, it requires a lot of cooperation and that starts with not villifying the people on the other side of the table.
So we can all agree that these animals died in a horrible way because they are considered valueless to the people that own them.
I don't think we can actually agree on that. They are certainly not valueless, even if there is a limit on how much the companies are willing to spend on them. I don't know the numbers of course but a heck of a lot of money is lost in depopulation scenarios. And again, this is where you dip into villifying the people on the other side of the table, despite earlier acknowledging that there were no other good options right now. I get that you are talking about making changes for the future, and that is a great and worthy cause, but you keep couching it in this undertone of condemning the people who had to make immediate decisions. And that's why the question comes up of how would you do it better, because taking that stance implies that there is already in existence a more feasible way to solve the problem.

I'm not gonna really touch this human population issue too deeply, except to say that while I agree with DVMD's general stance, I think the solution lies more in education, access to healthcare and family planning, and encouraging all of us in developed countries who use up all the resources to have fewer children...rather than in strict laws about family size. But if you really want to get at the heart of the impact that agriculture has on the environment and on animal welfare and all of that, you do have to examine why the systems exist in the form they do, and it is to feed our ever-growing population. And efforts to increase sustainability are constantly being outpaced by our population growth.
 
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DVMDream

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It's a heck of a lot better than it used to be. And that's not to say it's great, but if we're talking about making improvements in the industry, it requires a lot of cooperation and that starts with not villifying the people on the other side of the table.

I don't think we can actually agree on that. They are certainly not valueless, even if there is a limit on how much the companies are willing to spend on them. I don't know the numbers of course but a heck of a lot of money is lost in depopulation scenarios. And again, this is where you dip into villifying the people on the other side of the table, despite earlier acknowledging that there were no other good options right now. I get that you are talking about making changes for the future, and that is a great and worthy cause, but you keep couching it in this undertone of condemning the people who had to make immediate decisions. And that's why the question comes up of how would you do it better, because taking that stance implies that there is already in existence a more feasible way to solve the problem.

I'm not gonna really touch this human population issue too deeply, except to say that while I agree with DVMD's general stance, I think the solution lies more in education, access to healthcare and family planning, and encouraging all of us in developed countries who use up all the resources to have fewer children...rather than in strict laws about family size. But if you really want to get at the heart of the impact that agriculture has on the environment and on animal welfare and all of that, you do have to examine why the systems exist in the form they do, and it is to feed our ever-growing population. And efforts to increase sustainability are constantly being outpaced by our population growth.

Education would be huge, I had to explain to an adult woman with children that babies come out of a vagina not the anus when talking about her pregnant dog. She insisted her children were basically defecated out.

I think there's such a lack of education and access to family planning that, I agree, these things would help massively.
 
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battie

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So we can all agree that these animals died in a horrible way because they are considered valueless to the people that own them

Absolutely disagree with this statement as well. These animals wouldn't exist in the first place if they had no inherent value. But we cannot ignore the fact that money does in fact matter here. And while the animals being killed are not currently unhealthy, their human caretakers are. Of the euthanasia methods I know of, the most humane would be the worst containment methods in regards to COVID spread. There absolutely has to be a human life priority here.
 

Minnerbelle

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I'm not gonna really touch this human population issue too deeply, except to say that while I agree with DVMD's general stance, I think the solution lies more in education, access to healthcare and family planning, and encouraging all of us in developed countries who use up all the resources to have fewer children...rather than in strict laws about family size. But if you really want to get at the heart of the impact that agriculture has on the environment and on animal welfare and all of that, you do have to examine why the systems exist in the form they do, and it is to feed our ever-growing population. And efforts to increase sustainability are constantly being outpaced by our population growth.

Haha I on the other hand am not going to touch the dumpster fire that is the rest of this thread, or much in the population issue. But one comment about the latter. Overall, with economic prosperity and development comes the shrinking of populations. Though there are certainly exceptions on an individual basis, the poor and uneducated are those who have bigger families. That is why a lot of Western Europe and countries like Japan are shrinking to the level that their populations are becoming unsustainable. The wealthy educated population are the ones who struggle to have kids and/or choose not to have them naturally.

I agree with all of your strategies, but I strongly believe it should be more targeted towards the developing nations and the poor, and addressing income inequality in countries like the US that do not have a robust social safety net. It’s also a women’s rights issue. The poor women with a lot of children have very few opportunities for upward mobility, and many of these children come about as a result of lack of opportunity and/or abuse of the mother. Girls with no resources or education need to find a way to live, and that often means relying on a man (even if a predator or abusive) to take them in or prostitution. Once they have children, they have even fewer resources and mamas will generally do whatever they have to for their babies. And around and around it goes. Many of these girls don’t get any sex education until they are first taken advantage of. General education, resources, sex education, and free contraceptives would go a long way. But getting these people out of poverty is going to make the most difference. And the wealthy developed nations should be spearheading the conservation of resources and renewable energy, and working to redistribute income rather than contributing to the problem. The US is pretty shameful on all fronts here, especially with the current administration.
 
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WildZoo

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Haha I on the other hand am not going to touch the dumpster fire that is the rest of this thread, or much in the population issue. But one comment about the latter. Overall, with economic prosperity and development comes the shrinking of populations. Though there are certainly exceptions on an individual basis, the poor and uneducated are those who have bigger families. That is why a lot of Western Europe and countries like Japan are shrinking to the level that their populations are becoming unsustainable. The wealthy educated population are the ones who struggle to have kids and/or choose not to have them naturally.

I agree with all of your strategies, but I strongly believe it should be more targeted towards the developing nations and the poor, and addressing income inequality in countries like the US that do not have a robust social safety net. It’s also a women’s rights issue. The poor women with a lot of children have very few opportunities for upward mobility, and many of these children come about as a result of lack of opportunity and/or abuse of the mother. Girls with no resources or education need to find a way to live, and that often means relying on a man (even if a predator or abusive) to take them in or prostitution. Once they have children, they have even fewer resources and mamas will generally do whatever they have to for their babies. And around and around it goes. Many of these girls don’t get any sex education until they are first taken advantage of. General education, resources, sex education, and free contraceptives would go a long way. But getting these people out of poverty is going to make the most difference. And the wealthy developed nations should be spearheading the conservation of resources and renewable energy, and working to redistribute income rather than contributing to the problem. The US is pretty shameful on all fronts here, especially with the current administration.
Oh I 100% agree with all of this. The point I was making about people in developed nations also limiting family sizes was that, for example, a child born in the US is (on average) going to use a heck of a lot more resources over their lifetime than one born in Niger. One less child in a US family is going to have a bigger impact than one less child in Niger right now, and more of us have the education and resources to be able to make that choice. So at least right now that's one big way we can help on an individual level, in addition to trying to cut back on our resource use overall. But yes poverty is one of the biggest drivers of family size for sure.
 
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pwny__express

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Respect @DVMDream , no hard feelings. Passionate opinions and all that. The family size laws are still bonkers to me, but I see that you aren't wrong.

I checked out the Rant thread, I had avoided it initially because I was trying to avoid the 'Rant' style approach to this topic but I guess it kind of ended up that way anyway. It seems that most of that thread is a circle of "VSD is awful -> what alternatives? -> none ->" on repeat so if anything I think this was just an effort to break that cycle.

I don't think we can actually agree on that. They are certainly not valueless, even if there is a limit on how much the companies are willing to spend on them. I don't know the numbers of course but a heck of a lot of money is lost in depopulation scenarios. And again, this is where you dip into villifying the people on the other side of the table, despite earlier acknowledging that there were no other good options right now. I get that you are talking about making changes for the future, and that is a great and worthy cause, but you keep couching it in this undertone of condemning the people who had to make immediate decisions.

I can see why you would say this, but I would argue I never vilified anyone. In my earlier posts I condemned the action of VSD, not the AVMA or anyone who made the decisions, or anyone else involved. I called the Ag industry out because I still believe they have a role to play in addressing many many issues, not just this one. I certainly never said anyone involved in this situation was a bad or evil person.

I feel like I described the scenario pretty accurately even if it isn't what we want to see. To say they died a horrible death is fair by any objective assessment, and at the time that VSD was decided these pigs were, at the very best, worth as much alive as they were dead. Those are objective truths, not judgements, so any sense of vilification you get from my statements is wholly a testament to the impact of those actions.

I'm not gonna really touch this human population issue too deeply, except to say that while I agree with DVMD's general stance, I think the solution lies more in education, access to healthcare and family planning, and encouraging all of us in developed countries who use up all the resources to have fewer children...rather than in strict laws about family size. But if you really want to get at the heart of the impact that agriculture has on the environment and on animal welfare and all of that, you do have to examine why the systems exist in the form they do, and it is to feed our ever-growing population. And efforts to increase sustainability are constantly being outpaced by our population growth.

I can understand this and it absolutely makes sense. I guess shining some light and pushing for change on VSD as an issue seems a bit more tangible of a goal from my background, than "more in education, access to healthcare and family planning, and encouraging all of us in developed countries who use up all the resources to have fewer children" ... I mean, the controlling government party uses massive resources to limit women's access to any type of family planning services, preventing access to safe abortion is a key part of their platform. It's shameful but there is an absence of motivation to slow our growth, even a desire to grow our population, directly from the highest office in this country. Its no shock they actively encourage abundant reproduction while simultaneously eroding public education and public services. I'll do my part on election day but I wouldn't know where to begin beyond that ... maybe one of these other SDN subforums can jump on that.

Absolutely disagree with this statement as well. These animals wouldn't exist in the first place if they had no inherent value. But we cannot ignore the fact that money does in fact matter here. And while the animals being killed are not currently unhealthy, their human caretakers are. Of the euthanasia methods I know of, the most humane would be the worst containment methods in regards to COVID spread. There absolutely has to be a human life priority here.

Ok, thats fair to say as I agree they have inherent value but as I wrote above, their gross value at the time VSD was elected was at best = 0$. This argument was originally to dispute the justifications that have been given in the past, which some were trying to attribute to this case - namely, VSD for FAD or emergency disease control.

I strongly believe it should be more targeted towards the developing nations and the poor, and addressing income inequality in countries like the US that do not have a robust social safety net. It’s also a women’s rights issue. The poor women with a lot of children have very few opportunities for upward mobility, and many of these children come about as a result of lack of opportunity and/or abuse of the mother. Girls with no resources or education need to find a way to live, and that often means relying on a man (even if a predator or abusive) to take them in or prostitution. Once they have children, they have even fewer resources and mamas will generally do whatever they have to for their babies. And around and around it goes. Many of these girls don’t get any sex education until they are first taken advantage of. General education, resources, sex education, and free contraceptives would go a long way. But getting these people out of poverty is going to make the most difference. And the wealthy developed nations should be spearheading the conservation of resources and renewable energy, and working to redistribute income rather than contributing to the problem. The US is pretty shameful on all fronts here, especially with the current administration.

Maybe this is really the key message of this thread, at the very least I'm glad we arrived here. Unfortunately I don't see an obvious path to address these issues, entire world governments are allowing and inflicting human suffering on unfathomable scales. Between the US, China, India, and Russia all desperately posturing for some kind of geopolitical attention in recent decades, it seems we're destined to continue this irl Machiavellian drama at the expense of human lives for quite some time.
 
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