Wayne Pacelle on USDA Spent Hen Meat Purchases

On Wednesday, I blogged about the USDA program which has spent $145 million over the past decade buying spent hen meat for the National School Lunch Program.

Now HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle has an article all about this practice. The whole piece is worth reading, and Pacelle’s conclusion makes perfect sense:

So what’s the USDA’s excuse for dumping millions of pounds of this unwanted product on school kids? The agency explains: “Egg producers have been unable to dispose of egg laying hens in sufficient numbers because fowl processors cannot increase normal markets for fowl meat.” It’s that kind of thinking that leads many of us to conclude that USDA is more a promoter of big agribusiness than a protector of consumers or animal welfare.

So instead of letting the market take its course, the USDA supplements the profits of battery cage egg producers with millions in buy-up programs—compromising food safety in the process. In fact, at least one study shows that spent hen carcasses are several times more likely to be infected with salmonella than the carcasses of chickens bred for meat production.

One year into a new administration, it’s time to rethink these archaic programs. Big agriculture is deregulated. It causes major animal cruelty, environmental problems, and public health threats. And it gets billions in subsidies.

That equation doesn’t add up, and it’s time for change.

My book Meat Market was largely about identifying assets of animal agribusiness, both large and small, that the public would find unacceptable. As these assets are publicized, they can be stripped away, and agribusiness would grow weaker and weaker. The USDA’s program to purchase spent hen meat is an important asset of the egg industry, and one an informed public would never accept. (Via Shapiro.) Link.

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