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Call for Plant in Welfare Row to be Reopened

24 August 2012

US - California congressman Devin Nunes together with fellow Californian congressmen Jeff Denham and Kevin McCarthy, has sent a letter to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack seeking the immediate re-opening of the Central Valley Meat Company meat-processing plant in Hanford, California.

The Department of Agriculture suspended all operations at the plant after a video surfaced purporting to show plant workers mistreating livestock.

"Citing the idling of hundreds of workers at the plant, the regional economic damage resulting from its closure, and the fact that the alleged violations never compromised the food supply, we asked Secretary Vilsack to re-open the plant under enhanced supervision while an investigation of the plant continues," Congressman Nunes said.

"The video was posted by extremists who are actively working to undermine production agriculture in the United States.

"In recent years, these kinds of “activists” have increased their attacks on animal agriculture, and have even carried out acts of domestic terrorism. For example, in early 2012 a group used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to blow up fourteen trucks used for transporting livestock not far from Hanford, citing animal welfare as their excuse.

"Now, area residents are confronted with economic terrorism."

However, it is reported that the USDA has rejected the congressmen's appeal and the department has called on the company to submit a corrective action plan detailing how it intends to comply with humane handling regulations before USDA considers allowing them to operate.

In an earlier statement, Al Almanza, Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service said: "Our top priority is to ensure the safety of the food Americans feed their families.

"We have reviewed the video and determined that, while some of the footage provided shows unacceptable treatment of cattle, it does not show anything that would compromise food safety. Therefore, we have not substantiated a food safety violation at this time. We are aggressively continuing to investigate the allegations."

Central Valley Meat slaughters nonproductive dairy cows for processing into ground beef.

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