Temple Grandin Endorses Rubashkin Slaughter – For Now

The Forward’s Nathaniel Popper reports Temple Grandin, the renowned expert on animal handling and the slaughter process, has given Rubashkin’s reformed process a thumbs up – of sorts, for now:

Temple Grandin, an animal science professor, issued her endorsement last week, after visiting the AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. The plant, owned and run by Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim, has been the subject of criticism since 2004, when an animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, released video footage from inside the slaughterhouse that showed cows going to a loud and violent death. When Grandin initially viewed the video, she said it was the “most disgusting thing I’d ever seen.”

After her June 27 visit to Postville, Grandin stood by her original statements but said that AgriProcessors appears to have improved its slaughter process.

“What I saw there today was working very well,” she told the Forward after her full-day visit, for which she was paid as a consultant by AgriProcessors.

“They have to learn to keep their process good,” she added.…

Grandin said that at the end of her visit, she recommended that the plant internally audit its slaughter process every week. “They’ve got to have that kind of auditing control — otherwise they have a tendency to slip back,” she said.

PETA had been pushing for Grandin to visit the plant – they did so even before making their undercover video of Rubashkin abuses publiic – and Rubashkin had consistently refused.

For her part, Dr. Grandin told me last year that, as I had been told by several highly placed sources in the animal welfare and food processing communities, she had indeed offered to go to Postville for free and work with Rubashkin to improve the process. She had also agreed to work with the rotating pen that so many, including Dr. Grandin, oppose. Rubashkin continued to refuse.

Another highly placed source in the animal welfare and food processing communities has told me that the OU’s Rabbi Genack worked very hard to convince Rubashkin to allow Dr. Grandin to inspect the plant, and that only in the last few weeks was the decision made to allow her in. (This roughly corresponds to the time the US Department of Justice served subpoenas on Rubashkin and other kosher meat providers as part of an investigation of anti-trust, price-fixing and collusion, and the time the Forward’s story broke on Rubashkin’s abuse of workers. A cynical person might think letting Grandin in was a PR stunt meant to take pressure off the OU and Rubashkin.)

But how does Rubashkin’s official spokesman describe the visit? Like this:

“PETA’s efforts to further their extreme political agenda at the expense of religious freedom have never been a factor in AgriProcessors’ thinking,” Thomas said. “Dr. Grandin has been to AgriProcessors before; she consulted with AgriProcessors shortly after the plant opened in 1989. We had been asking her to consult with us again for a number of years, and three months ago we were finally able to settle on a date.

A far cry from what Grandin and others have consistently claimed for the last 18 months.

And then we have this curious doublespeak from the OU’s Rabbi Genack and PETA’s response:

Menachem Genack, the rabbinic administrator of the Kashrus Division of the O.U., said that he was glad the plant had been able to fix its problems; however, he was hesitant to give credit to PETA, which first brought those problems to light.

“Do I think PETA represented things accurately and appropriately? I don’t,” Genack said. “Do I think there were mistakes there that had to be corrected? I do.”

Although a spokesman for PETA, Bruce Friedrich, said he was happy that the plant had taken corrective steps, he questioned whether the O.U. has taken sufficient measures to ensure that similar problems do not crop up in the future at AgriProcessors and at other kosher plants.

“It shouldn’t require a PETA investigation and three years of hand wringing to ensure that the Jewish commitment to compassion is part of the O.U.’s standard operating procedure,” Friedrich said.

Friedrich is correct. The sad thing is that so few Jews understand this.

Advertisements

24 Comments

Filed under Kosher Business?, Kosher Meat Scandal

24 responses to “Temple Grandin Endorses Rubashkin Slaughter – For Now

  1. John K. Diamond

    The time has come for the following public demands to be made to the OU, KAJ, and all other Kosher Supervising agencies:

    1. That a phase out process must begin to eliminate accepting animals sent to kosher slaughterhouses from the cruel factory farms and replace them with animals raised on certified humane farms that meet the Torah Laws for animal treatment. In addition, a timetable must be published indicating when this process will be completed.

    2. Insure that all slaughtering be done in the most up to date humane processes per methods recommended by Dr. Temple Grandin including the use of the upright pen.

    3. Insure that all pertinent Federal and State Laws regarding the treatment of workers in all kosher slaughterhouses be obeyed and that livable wages be paid and access to afordable health insurance be provided.

    These were published in the latest JVNA Newsletter.

    John K. Diamond
    Member, JVNA Advisory Committee

  2. Neo-Conservaguy

    #1 won’t happen until consumers are willing to pay for the extra cost of non-factory farming. A more obtainable initial goal is to increase the availability of organic/free-range product choice. Some exists now – consumers that care should already be only patronizing such businesses. #2 and #3 should be done immediately.

    Damn, I’ve agreed with 2/3 of the radical veggie lobby. Time to go do extra tachnun.

  3. Stephen Mendelsohn

    BS”D

    As for #1 above, ther may be halachic reasons to oppose the shechita of factory farmed animals apart from tza’ar ba’alei chayim. For instance, cattle are routinely castrated without painkiller and their testicles eaten as a delicacy known as “Rocky Mountain Oysters.” This is a violaton of one of the sheva mitzvot b’nei Noach (eiver min ha-chai), and by shechting such animals for kosher consumption, one is aiding and abetting an aveirah. No wonder Rabbi David Rosen suggested that the consumption of meat today is halachically unacceptable as the product of illegitimate means.

    Also, please keep this discussion civil and not smarmy. Nearly every time someone from JVNA posts, the discussion gets off track onto vegetarianism versus meat eating rather than keeping our focus on the real problem and getting as many allies as we can against the Rubashkins of the world.

  4. PETA has an agenda. They are against shehita, period. They are against any use of animals, for food, research, whatever, but they have a special animus toward shehita. I’d treat anything coming from PETA with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  5. Neo-Conservaguy

    I wasn’t being “smarmy”, I was teasing. The fact is that the JVNA has spammed every discussion related to this topic, trying to push their organization and its goals; it’s been a bit over the top.

    “For instance, cattle are routinely castrated without painkiller and their testicles eaten as a delicacy known as “Rocky Mountain Oysters.” This is a violaton of one of the sheva mitzvot b’nei Noach (eiver min ha-chai), and by shechting such animals for kosher consumption, one is aiding and abetting an aveirah.”

    This practice has apparently been going on for thousands of years, although not necessarily for the “Rocky Mountain Oysters”. I agree it seems pretty nasty. I asked an rabbi friend about this specific point because my own teacher holds this position as well; my friend said there were clearly different biblical terms for castrated and non-castrated male bovines, and both are kosher for consumption according to the classic halachic views.

  6. According to the founder of PETA, Ms. Newkirk, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy…”

    The logical conclusion to this is that a Jew is a cockroach.

    PETA and their ALF/ELF friends are pretty close ideologically to Nazis.

  7. Stephen Mendelsohn

    BS”D

    Neo-

    I was not referring to your post above, or to any particular individual, but rather to some of the earlier exchanges on this site. Yes, some of the JVNA posts have been one-tracked and narrowly centered around the same line. Just let it go; better not to respond and have the more immediate issues get sidetracked by a needless machloket.

    I also noticed somthing interesting when one visits the AgriProcessor website (http://www.agriprocessor.com). The top of one’s browser refers to “AgriProcessors … Kosher Factory Farming …” They admit it! They are engaged in factory farming. Most people regard “factory farming” as a pejorative term. Apparently Agri is willing to boast about their cruelty!

  8. I just visited the site and couldn’t find the reference to “kosher factory farming.” Of course, that doesn’t mean that they are not engaged in factory farming.

  9. John K. Diamond

    Thanks for all of your responses.

    The JVNA is not a radical vegetarian organization. While it believes that one would be better off not consuming animal products, it respects the right that Hashem gave in the Torah for one to do so. But the JVNA expects, as many of you do, that all of the Torah Laws regarding the raising of animals for food, proper slaughter and treatment of workers engaged in this industry be obeyed, which, presently, they are not. My three points were simply stated so that progress might be made to make Kosher Meat REALLY KOSHER.

    I take strong issue with the criticism against PETA. Their goal is to eliminate cruelty against animals and they have come out in writing that Kosher slaughter, when properly done, is the most humane form of slaughtering. If it weren’t for PETA, the horrendous abuses against animals at Rubashkin would still be going on today.

  10. Anonymous

    John,

    > the Torah Laws regarding the raising of animals for food…

    Which laws are you referring to here?

  11. nachos

    The majority of Agri’s cattle that get slaughtered in Postville are midwest cattle.

    There is no market here for “rocky mountain oysters.” During castration time the farmer’s dog eats very well.

    Currently, more farmers are moving towards banding their cattle. This promotes better weight gain.

    Factory farming is here to stay. The American consumer demands cheap food and is unwilling to pay more.

  12. nachos

    One additional comment.

    Dehorning cattle is much more traumatic than castration.

    Many people believe that giving a pain killer is more humane. Do you have any idea how impracticle it is to give painkillers to a 700 to 1000 pound animal.

    The only other alternative is a device called a calm cow. It is inserted in the anus and sends out an electrical impulse that severs the messages of the spinal column. The animal is restrained and does not feel a thing. This device costs about $400 but has only a 3 hour battery life.

  13. C-Girl

    I checked out the site and couldn’t find any mention of “factory farming”.

    But it looks like Rebrand has done quite the image consulting job- the start page has cute pictures of a little Hispanic boy being led on a pony and everything! And the Temple Grandin visit page wants you to know just how darn close they’ve all become, within the bounds of tsnius, of course.

    I’m just shocked, SHOCKED! there’s no page officially thanking PETA for essentially forcing them to take these actions. Or was this really their idea all along? Hmmm….

    And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, despite the shnazzy layout, there are typos all over the site. I guess sometimes, when you look beneath the gloss…

  14. John K. Diamond

    Again, thanks for all of your additional responses.

    “> the Torah Laws regarding the raising of animals for food…

    Which laws are you referring to here?”

    There are several Torah Laws regarding treatment of animals.

    1. Prohibition against causing any unnecessary pain to any living creature. (tza’ar ba’alei chayim)

    2. Diet to consist solely of any green vegetation that grows out of the ground. This is described in Genesis 1:30. Although the vegan diet originally given to mankind in Genesis 1:29 was later expanded to include animal foods (with many restrictions and warnings), the diet for animals in Genesis 1:30 was never changed. This means that animals that we raise for food must be allowed to eat freely what grows out of the ground. This is yet another valid Torah-based justification to eliminate animals from factory farms to be a source for kosher slaughterhouses in addition to tza’ar ba’alei chayim.

    “Factory farming is here to stay. The American consumer demands cheap food and is unwilling to pay more.”

    In 2005, Dr. Robert Hansen, NASA’s chief climatologist presented data against the orders of his superiors that proved that the greenhouse gases emitted as a result of animal agriculture (50 Billion animals worldwide), not the cabon dioxide from tansportation, etc. is the major source of global warming today and will be for the next 50 years. Experts that have examined this data have said that unless the number of factory farmed animals is not reduced significantly or elimuinated in this generation, the human species will become extinct by the end of this century or sooner.

    Based on this, Moam Mohr, the webmaster for the JVNA published an article in the 2005 Summer issue of “Earthsave Magazine” entitled “A New Global Warming Strategy, How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes”

    Based on this, I wrote an article entitled “Global Warming Induced Human Extinction, an Avoidable Catastrophe” which was published in the March 27th Issue of the JVNA Newsletter (available online at http://www.jewishveg.com) and also posted in another blog on this website.

    So if the American consumer demands cheap food and is unwilling to pay more, their grandchildren and great grandchildren will pay dearly with a horrible death and Hashem will hold them responsible.

    Animals raised on sustainable certified humane farms, which meet all of the Torah Laws regarding animal agriculture, however, will not lead to the above catastrophe.

    The number of these farms is steadiliy growing in number. To check this out, visit “Humane Farm Animal Care” at http://www.certifiedhumane.com.

  15. nachos

    Mr. John K. Diamond

    I am curious as to how you define a “factory farm.” How many cattle in a feedlot situation is a “factory farm.”

  16. John. K. Diamond

    Nachos,

    >I am curious as to how you define a “factory farm.” How many cattle in a feedlot situation is a “factory farm.”

  17. D

    > Prohibition against causing any unnecessary pain to any living creature. (tza’ar ba’alei chayim)

    The applicability of these laws have already been discussed here at length. Suffice to say it is far more complicated than your one-sentence summary would indicate.

    > Diet to consist solely of any green vegetation that grows out of the ground. This is described in Genesis 1:30.

    I don’t know how you derive “law” from this prooftext as it is contradicted later on. The Torah very clearly allows human meat consumption, indeed, “all your soul deisres” (vezabachta kol avat nafshecha). Indeed, you acknowledge it’s counterpoint below.

    > Although the vegan diet originally given to mankind in Genesis 1:29 was later expanded to include animal foods (with many restrictions and warnings), the diet for animals in Genesis 1:30 was never changed.

    Okay, so explain this week’s parsha in which Israel is likened to a lion that does not sleep until it eats torn flesh and drinks blood of its prey (Num. 23:24). Clearly, the Torah acknowledges that at least some animal diets include some pretty rough treatment of their cousins.

    > This is yet another valid Torah-based justification to eliminate animals from factory farms to be a source for kosher slaughterhouses.

    How did you make this cognitive leap? First we are discussing vegan animal diets and now factory farms. These do not follow.

    At any rate, where in the Torah is a link made between vegan animal diets and slaughter. In practical halacha the only concern with animal diet WRT slaughter is that nothing be eaten that could cause internal injuries (sharp stones, nails, etc). Indeed, I have seen “free running” (i.e. wild) turkeys eat some items that are unquestionably treif like small insects, worms and the like.

  18. nachos

    John:

    I am fully aware of what a CAFO is. Most cattle in the U.S. are not born on CAFO operations. In my state there is perhaps at best two dozen CAFO operations.

    On the other hand, many finishing operations are CAFO.

    I took a look at your certified humane website and I don’t see the value added. Specifically which packer is going to pay a premium for your certification. The answer right now is none.

    The thing that your organization needs to fight against is the consolidation in the packing industry. Four packers control over 80% of the slaughter capacity in the U.S.. Many times two buyers from two competing plants will arive in the same car to bid on your cattle. There is definite collusion.

    Family farmers have no problem providing humane care, but they need a fair price for their cattle to do so.

  19. Stephen Mendelsohn

    BS”D

    The reference to “Kosher Factory Farming” at the top of the browser for AgriProcessors was changed sometime after I noticed it. Perhaps ReBrand noticed as well and got them to change it. In any case, it is a clumsy website to navigate, especially the way they post news items.

  20. Stephen Mendelsohn

    BS”D

    I checked again. “Kosher Factory Farming” (along with “ethical treatment of animals” and “PETA”) is, as of this post, still atop the pages in the “Opportunities” and “Testimonials” sections. Apparently ReBrand is still clumsy.

  21. RLeeSmith

    It seems to me that we have a bad group of folks PETA, whose actions re agriprocessors did some good. But don’t forget the PETA creed: a rat is a cat is a dog is a child. Not a very Jewish approach. Then we have Agriprocessors who, according to the record (at least the letter from their lawyer on the PETA website) refused to let Dr. Temple Grandin get involved. Finally they gave in and let her in (and claimed they were working with her all along). PETA also took the “high road” (translation, new and scary clever strategy) and instead of rejecting all eating of meat, implied that eating Kosher meat was acceptable. So wonder of wonders, we now have a better Kosher product. Who says two wrongs can’t make a right. Critics of Agriprocessors couldn’t care less and will continue their attack now moving to their treatment of illegals who are smart enough to get smuggled into the US and to get a social security number but not smart enough to find a different job. PETA will continue claiming that holocaust victims are equivalent to chickens being raised for food. And yet through the inscrutable workings of holyness, we now have better Kosher beef.

  22. John K. Diamond

    Hi RLeeSmith,

    >And yet through the inscrutable workings of holyness, we now have better Kosher beef.

  23. rleeSmith

    ‘We may have better beef coming out of Agriprocessors, but it’s still not Kosher..’ Hey, you don’t have to eat it but it certainly seems to be Kosher. Agriprocessors did what PETA asked so it sounds like you are trying to over rule OU, Temple Grandin and PETA. What is your authority for doing so in the name of Kashruth? It seems like another agenda is involved. I’m all for creating supervising agencies to insure “that all of the Torah Laws related to..proper treatment of workers which include livable wages and health insurance are enforced in no uncertain terms.” However, the issues of how to treat those employed in the slaughter of animals is confounded by the goals of PETA and vegetarians to eliminate the eating of meat. Hence I would suggest that the agencies begin with investigating more neutral products that employ and potentially mistreat workers such as the manufacturers of the clothes we wear, the growers of the fruits and vegetable we eat, the manufacturers of the electronic products we use, the automobiles we drive, etc. Once we have cleaned up those industries and established that this kind of approach can work, we can tackle the more emotionally charged issues involving using animals for food.

  24. John K. Diamond

    Hi RLeeSmith,

    >Hey, you don’t have to eat it but it certainly seems to be Kosher. Agriprocessors did what PETA asked so it sounds like you are trying to over rule OU, Temple Grandin and PETA.However, the issues of how to treat those employed in the slaughter of animals is confounded by the goals of PETA and vegetarians to eliminate the eating of meat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s