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It’s All Happening at the USDA

By Mariann Sullivan — September 13, 2011
It’s All Happening at the USDA

If you’re going to be anywhere near DC on Wednesday, September 21, the USDA will be the place to be. Yes, you heard me correctly. The USDA will be holding one of its Future Trends in Animal Agriculture Symposia, and this time the topic will be “The Polarization of Animal Welfare and Animal Rights Issues: Good or Bad for the Animals?” I actually have no idea what that title means, but it certainly is an indication that animal agribusiness, and the government agency that so ably represents it, is getting more and more worried.

Of course, this will be an opportunity to hear the point of view of many members of the dark side, including long time industry rep Steve Kopperud, who will be speaking on “The Pros and Cons of the Egg Industry/Humane Society of the U.S. Agreement,” as well as Joe Miller, General Counsel of Rose Acre Farms, one of Indiana’s largest and most notorious egg producers, who will offer his point of view on the “Impact of State Legislative Initiatives on Animal Welfare, What State Model is Preferred?”

United States Department of Agriculture

There will also be some government folks, and, most notably, at least one representative of the animal protection movement will be there, as Paul Shapiro, of the Humane Society of the United States, will be speaking about “Cooperation, Ballot Initiatives and the Humane Agenda.” I remember a few years ago, when I attended one of these symposia at the USDA, Paul was in the audience. It’s a sign of the changing times that he is now on the agenda. (I also remember the handful of animal advocates who were present searching desperately, and largely in vain, for something decent to eat at the USDA cafeteria. Maybe, given the agency’s new My Plate program, they will have a few more plants available to eat.)

This is a rare opportunity to suss out the positions of the industry and government agencies on some of the issues that concern us deeply. I hope a lot of people who actually truly do care about what’s good and bad for animals will take the opportunity to be there. The event, which will run from 9 AM to 4 PM, is free, but they ask that you pre-register by sending your name, affiliation, postal address, and preferred email address to: David Brubaker, 145 South Spruce Street, Lititz, PA 17543; or email to PennsylvaniaB[at] On-site registration is available but discouraged. The event will be held at the Jefferson Auditorium in the South Agriculture Building, which can be accessed through the Wing 7 entrance of USDA headquarters, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. in Washington, DC.

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