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Saturday, July 20, 2024

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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Report: Restaurants allow abuse, disease risk at MD animal farms

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Friday, June 21, 2024   

Many food producers have made progress since 2008 toward ending the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs, according to a new report from animal-welfare activists, but there's more to be done.

While some restaurant chains have committed to not purchasing meat products from companies that use gestation crates, said the group Animal Equality, the practice remains legal in most states including Maryland.

Devon Dear, the group's institutional outreach manager, cited polling data> that found 80% of American consumers object to animals being raised in inhumane conditions.

"Our best estimate from the industry is that about 40% of mother pigs in the commercial breeding herd in the U.S. are not in gestation crates for their whole pregnancies," she said. "These are companies that are really falling behind national standards."

The report says a small number of national restaurant chains - including McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's - have reduced the practice. However, Dear added, a dozen or more others have either not committed or backed out of promises to use only meat products that are produced humanely. The Maryland Farm Bureau opposes eliminating the use of gestation crates, citing the cost and the likelihood that a change would drive some producers out of business.

Dear said gestation crates are used to maximize the number of pigs that can be raised in a barn. The sow is confined in a two- by seven-foot stall until she gives birth. Although the practice is allowed by federal law, Dear said, it was described by one animal scientist as like living "in an airline seat."

"Irrespective of what's happening with state-level legislation, with national legislation, companies have a corporate responsibility to treat animals in their supply-chains humanely," she said, "and companies have a responsibility to do better."

Dear said her group and others are lobbying Congress to make changes in the upcoming Farm Bill to force producers to use humane methods to raise pigs and other animals for meat. However, she said, the track record of companies that say they'll change their ways isn't good.


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