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By Lisa Yount

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Britain outlawed fur farming in November 2000. However, a 2002 EU study of farm animal welfare laws in 73 countries concluded that such laws, as well as their enforcement, differ considerably from country to country and that many countries’ laws are not as stringent as those of the EU. This fact places EU farmers at an economic disadvantage compared to farmers in countries where standards are more lax. Future success of efforts to modify intensive farming in either Europe or the United States is likely to depend on animal rights groups and the animal agriculture industry being willing to meet each other halfway.

Cow had been processed as meat before its illness was diagnosed and recalled some meat, government officials played down the risk to the human food supply, as well as announcing numerous changes in testing and slaughtering rules aimed at eliminating future threats. Nonetheless, numerous animal rights and vegetarian groups seized on this highly publicized occurrence as another reason why people should give up eating meat. Trade organizations such as the American Meat Institute say that animal rightists exaggerate the problems caused by intensive farming.

The cattle are allowed to graze in pastures for about nine months, after which they are shipped, usually by truck, to feedlots for finishing. Some 10,000 animals may be crowded together on the packed dirt surface of a feedlot. For several months the cattle in feedlots are fed high-calorie corn and soy meal, sometimes treated with growth promoters, to make them gain weight rapidly. When they reach their market weight of 1,000 pounds or so, they are sent to slaughter. Dairy cattle are treated differently from beef cattle.

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