According to RNZSPCA national accreditation and marketing manager Juliette Banks: “Consumers are becoming far more conscious of where and how their food is produced and they don’t want cages.”
Yet New Zealand farmers are going ahead with installing the ‘colony cages’ approved in the new Layer Hen Code of Welfare. The thing is, the capital investment in changing out one type of cage for a marginally larger one is far greater than converting to a barn set up where the animals are still kept indoors in crowded conditions but are at least not in cages.
Banks continues: “With a steady annual increase in the free-range egg market it is clear consumers will not accept caged eggs in the future. For the industry to spend millions converting a system that consumers will reject seems pointless.”
Indeed it does. Until we consider that caged hen operations are very large businesses with capital investment that often runs into the millions. Why would these operators be prepared to continue with a more expensive system? Because it provides a very effective barrier to entry for possible competitors. The welfare of the thousands of hens in their care is neither here nor there for these producers. The decision is purely economic. It makes the claim of Egg Producers Federation chairman, Michael Guthrie, that they want to ‘ensure eggs remained affordable during tough economic times’ ring rather hollow.
Bullfighting was banned in the autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia on 28 July this year, with the ban coming into full effect in 2012.
Now, three months to the day later, the Spanish Constitutional Court (housed in a rather Beehive-esque building) has accepted an appeal lodged by the Partido Popular (People’s Party, PP) challenging Catalonia’s ban on cultural, economic and administrative grounds. The PP is a conservative, nationalist party known for such other legislative projects as restricting immigration to Catalonia and deporting immigrants who have not learnt the Catalan language to proposed minimum standards.
UPDATE: The ban was passed into law by the Parliament of Catalonia on the 28 July 2010, coming into full effect in 2012. The final vote was 68 for the ban, 55 against, with nine abstaining. On 28 October, the conservative nationalist, People’s Party lodged an appeal with the Spanish Constitutional Court on the grounds that the regional parliament has exceeded its powers in banning a practice of national cultural significance. For more detail, see our posts here and here.
Bullfighting afficianados have been treated to some spectacularly gory action in 2010. In Spain, in a widely-publicised incident in May, bullfighter Julio Aparicio’s jaw and lower throat were pierced by a bull’s horn which emerged from his mouth. Only one month earlier, Spain’s most charismatic and popular bullfighter, José Tomás, suffered a severe goring in Mexico which required a transfusion of eight litres of blood. The human body normally contains five litres.
But despite the inherent risks, only fifty-two toreadors have died in the ring since 1700. Continue reading
It’s not often I’m moved to comment on Garth George – for those who are blissfully unfamiliar with his work, he’s a longtime conservative critic for the Herald, who in the past has railed against the decriminalisation of both abortion and homosexuality. Thursday’s Herald included a fascinating editorial in which Mr George commented on the recent 33-dog slaughter in Wellsford, demonstrating a poignant knot that braces much of the globalised Western legal and social culture.
Garth begins his post by enumerating the three things he still cannot get his head around. In his own words:
The first is child abuse, paedophilia and cruelty to domestic animals; the second is male homosexuality; and the third is vegetarianism.
I will refrain from commenting on the second point since this is not the appropriate forum (although I do find the specific phraseology ‘male homosexuality’ fascinating), the first and third of Garth’s big confusions reveal a fascinating contradiction. Interestingly, he spends little time actually commenting on the relative merits or otherwise of vegetarianism or veganism (a distinction he admits ignorance of), and when he meets a member of this strange breed, he, ‘..simply shake[s his] …head in wonder.’ The rest of the editorial is devoted to shaming the perpetrators of some of the more heinous instances of animal cruelty over the recent past. Throughout the post, George makes it clear that he has no practical or comprehensible ethical or philosophical grounding from which this set of arbitrary rules are derived. Continue reading
There’s a lot to be angry about these days. Ever since a couple of lunatics decided to commit the ‘Wellsford Massacre’, by emptying their shotguns into a shed full of puppies, the media has been alight with stories about animal welfare. In one sense, that’s good. We certainly need to be paying more attention to what is, sadly, a prevalent problem. Nonetheless, there’s a lot to get angry about from the media coverage as well. I’m not sure whether it’s the media, the killers up in Wellsford, some lady calling me a dick-head, or a combination of all these things, but I’m feeling pretty steamed. Rather than attempt a coherent blog in this state, I’ll throw out a few points on the ‘things that are making me mad’, and hope it makes some degree of sense in the end.
Before doing so, a disclaimer. I worry some times that people read parts of my comments rather than the whole. So let me state this loud and clear: I am not against punishing people who commit cruelty against animals. Far from it. I’ve done as much to try and get sentences fairly applied as anyone, and have written legal articles, drafted submissions to Parliament and worked with prosecutors to bolster sentences for animal abusers. It is, to be sure, a component of what needs to happen in order to have a country that treats animals better than it currently does. Nonetheless, as you’ll see from my comments below, I have serious reservations about the way this has suddenly become ‘the answer’ to our problems.
My Talk with Simon Bridges, MP
A few weeks before he introduced his new Bill to raise the maximum penalty for wilful ill-treatment to animals causing death from three to five years, Simon Bridges called me to see what I thought. I told him I thought it would do absolutely nothing for animals, and might even set back the cause. I think he was taken aback, as my position seemed both counter-intuitive and contrary to the ‘animal lover’ position. So I explained. The problem, as I see it, is not the maximum sentence for the single most serious crime relating to animals. A three year maximum, believe it or not, is fairly high by New Zealand standards. Sure, judges rarely impose the maximum, but that’s true for all crimes. Nonetheless, the three year maximum is not out-of-whack with other jurisdictions, and gives plenty of room to get jail time for those who commit horrid acts. Continue reading