Decision Maker

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal government policy on farming, agriculture, forestry, and food.


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Petitioning United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Tell USDA: Stop Excluding 98 Percent of Animals from the Humane Slaughter Act!

Did you know that the United States Department of Agriculture has decided that the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act doesn’t apply to poultry, who make up 98 percent of all land animals slaughtered for food? As a result, nearly 9 billion animals each year are killed in the most horrific and brutal ways. Please take 20 seconds to speak out against this unconscionable animal abuse by signing Mercy For Animals’ petition calling on the USDA to start protecting chickens, turkeys, and all other poultry under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Investigations by Mercy For Animals, including shocking hidden-camera exposés of slaughterhouses owned by Tyson and Foster Farms, have repeatedly documented birds violently shackled upside down, painfully shocked with electricity, cut open, and sometimes even scalded alive in hot water tanks. These abuses must end! But we need your help. Mercy For Animals has filed a historic petition urging the USDA to start including poultry under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. The USDA needs to hear from as many Americans as possible that we want meaningful regulations that end the cruelest slaughter practices.   Please sign our petition calling on the USDA to include protections for poultry under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Once you’ve signed, please share this petition on social media!

Mercy For Animals
261,037 supporters
Petitioning Mark Herring, Jim Husband, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Send Asha the African Elephant to Sanctuary

Asha, a 35-year-old female, African elephant has been alone at the Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia for an accumulative 22 years. She is forced to give over 10,000 rides a year, despite active tuberculosis findings in monkeys held at the zoo. This is a huge risk to the public who are in close proximity to her on a daily basis. Her toenails are cracked due to lack of foot care, and the zoo has been cited for failing to provide adequate veterinary care across the board. These are just a handful of the issues she faces on a daily basis. In April 2015, the Natural Bridge Zoo's permit to publicly exhibit wild animals was suspended by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). The zoo has since reopened despite numerous, ongoing complaints and inspections. To call this zoo anything short of a roadside attraction would be an injustice to those animals who have suffered and died during the many decades it’s been allowed to operate. The zoo has made it in the list of top 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants by In Defense of Animals for the last four years, and after public pressure and undercover footage from the Humane Society of the United States was released, the zoo has been cited uncountable times by the USDA for issues including, but not limited to, contaminated food, sanitation issues, rodent infestation, and improper containment. Due to the nature of these citations and disregard of many of them, we are asking that the DGIF step up and take permanent action. The DGIF has fallen short in assisting the USDA despite the fact that these issues are entirely within their jurisdiction. We ask the Attorney General to hold the DGIF accountable to taking appropriate action. Please consider sending Asha to a sanctuary, revoking the zoo's license permanently, and finding placement for the zoo's remaining animals that will meet their needs as a species.  

Voices for Asha
223,931 supporters
Petitioning United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Carmen Rottenberg, Sonny Perdue, Paul Kiecker, Ben Harrison, Dr. Mindy Brashears

Tell the USDA to Halt High-Speed Slaughter Horrors!

Most chicken slaughter plants in the US kill up to 140 birds each minute. That’s more than two birds every single second. I’d seen the haunting footage, and I knew that even at these speeds, suffering is rampant. But then I worked undercover for Compassion Over Killing (COK) inside an Amick Farms slaughterhouse, which operates under a dangerous USDA high-speed slaughter program, where many government inspection duties are placed in the hands of the plant itself. At Amick Farms, birds are killed at a reckless pace, putting their welfare, along with workers and consumers, at risk. The cruelty I documented inside this high-speed house of horrors was a living nightmare.At Amick, which kills more than one million birds per week, violence and critical errors were rampant as workers struggled to keep up. I saw birds being punched, shoved, and thrown down the recklessly fast-paced kill line. Other birds slowly drowned in the electrified stunning baths during equipment breakdowns. I also captured footage of “red birds,” with blood visible under their skin—a sign that they were scalded alive.Throughout the chicken industry, birds endure egregious abuse, severe overcrowding, filthy conditions, and the crippling effects of unnaturally rapid growth—all before being trucked, sometimes for several hours, through all weather extremes to a gruesome death. And even at the already staggering rate of 140 birds killed per minute at most slaughterhouses, workers are forced to keep birds moving down the rapidly running kill line as quickly as possible, risking their own safety and animal welfare. At even higher speeds, these dangers are alarmingly exacerbated.Amick is one of 24 chicken plants that the USDA allows to run at these incredibly high speeds.  The National Chicken Council recently petitioned the USDA to completely eliminate any speed caps for plants nationwide—and although the USDA denied that request after hearing from more than 100,000 concerned consumers, it is now granting waivers to individual plants to run at up to 175 birds per minute, like at Amick Farms. Up until recently, there were 20 increased speed plants, but the government just handed out four more individual waivers, with plans to give out more.At such speeds, animals can endure even greater suffering. Not only do machines break down, trapping birds in electrified water baths where they drown, but workers are forced to take inhumane and dangerous shortcuts to maintain the fast pace, often causing harm to themselves in the process too. Working at Amick even for just a short time, my knuckles were swollen and my hands were in constant pain. I couldn’t close my hands, and my fingers would not touch when extended. In the filthy and fast-paced assembly-line environment, many workers also removed their shirts in the extreme heat, putting themselves at further risk as they operated dangerous machinery without even basic protection.This is the second time in just a few years that a COK investigation has exposed the horrors of high-speed slaughter, yet instead of abolishing this inhumane and dangerous program, the USDA drives it forward.In late 2015, a COK investigator worked inside Quality Pork Processors, a high-speed pig slaughter plant supplying Hormel Foods, revealing pigs shocked, dragged, and pulled to the kill floor; pigs covered in feces and pus-filled abscesses processed for human consumption with a USDA seal of approval; and much more. COK has since hand-delivered over a quarter million signatures against high-speed slaughter to the USDA’s offices.Slaughterhouses are already hell on earth for birds, who aren’t even afforded the minimal protections granted to other animals under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). And now, instead of taking steps to reduce the suffering of these animals, the USDA wants to speed up kill lines to boost industry profits under the guise of “modernization.”Please join me in urging the USDA to put the brakes on cruel and reckless high-speed slaughter today—and instead grant these birds bare minimum protections under federal law.In solidarity,“Jordan”Undercover Investigator, Compassion Over Killing P.S. The easiest way you can protect chickens, and all animals, from this abuse is to try healthy and delicious vegan eating. Click here to get started!

Compassion Over Killing
112,317 supporters
Petitioning Leslie Auriemmo, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States Forest Service, Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters, Michigan State Senate, Kathleen Atkinson

Ban has been temporarily delayed - Stop ban of Alcohol on Michigan Rivers

Update 2/12/2019: Our 53,000+ voices were heard! “Freedom is when the people can speak; democracy is when the government listens.” Your stated reasons for signing the petition: Local communities and businesses – Genuine support for our communities and local businesses. A ban like this has been shown to reduce tourism by 70% America – Over reaching government taking away our freedoms Enforce the existing laws Overwhelming love of our river trips – For many, a summer float has been a family and friend tradition for decades. On 02/12/2019, the federal government announced that they are temporarily delaying the order banning alcohol from our rivers. There will be a ‘working group’ formed and chaired by the forest service consisting of businesses, municipal officials, and private citizens with the intention of identifying and correcting issues on Our Rivers. This working group has the opportunity to provide an example to the entire country that it is possible for groups with different agendas and concerns to come together and collectively resolve issues. They can insure our beautiful Michigan Rivers are available to everyone and our freedom is protected. We have decided to keep the petition up and going. We are confident that the working group will formulate a solid plan; however, we want to make sure that our 53,000+ voices are included in the conversation. We have passed along our suggested ideas to the group. We will let you know if there are substantial updates. See you on Our River!   Original petition: Repeal the ban on Alcohol in Michigan Rivers. Specifically, ORDER NO. 09-04-19-01, which was signed by Leslie Auriemmo, forest supervisor, on 02/01/2019. Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months! Order no. 09-04-19-01   Update 2/11/2019: Awesome work everyone. We have over 39,000 signatures! They haven’t repealed the ban YET. CALL TO ACTION!! Please post the following to your Facebook page and social media. Share it. Everywhere! U.S. Federal Government just banned alcohol on Michigan Rivers. Punishable by a $5000.00 fine and up to 6 months in jail! Are your state’s rivers and lakes next on the list? “If we do not have the freedom to have a beer while fishing or floating on our waterways, we are not free.” Please sign this petition to stop the abuse of power and federal government overreach. https://www.change.org/p/stop-ban-of-alcohol-on-michigan-rivers   Call and email the following: (Please be respectful and civil, this is not personal) Leslie Auriemmo, USDA Forest supervisor, Phone: (231) 775-2421, Email: lauriemmo@fs.fed.us  Kathleen Atkinson, Regional Forester of the Eastern Region of the U.S. Forest Service, Phone: (414) 297-3765, Email: katkinson@fs.fed.us How did we get here? On 02/02/2019, Leslie Auriemmo, USDA forest supervisor (Phone (231) 775-2421), signed ORDER NO. 09-04-19-01 banning alcohol on the most popular sections of three Michigan rivers and their surrounding areas. Violation of this prohibition is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months in jail! The order was released to the press without contacting local businesses, or authorities. There was no public notice, discussion, comment period, or vote. Apparently a single federal bureaucrat has the authority to impose an order of this magnitude. Why is this happening? As news of our petition reaches the media, the Government is making up new reasons for the ban every chance they get. Nate Peeters, public affairs officer for the Huron-Manistee National Forests, told the news that they have seen “… a number of issues that have damaged the water systems themselves and put people's safety at risk”. This statement is not substantiated with facts or data and is meant to tug at our collective love of our rivers and our environment. People floating on the river are not harming or polluting it. Fishing charters from the Ausable have commented that our rivers are significantly cleaner than in decades past. We are all aware that our actions have consequences, we practice ‘No trace left behind’. Does the Government want to start discussing the actual threats to our rivers such as municipal treatment plant accidents, fisheries, PCBs, Mercury, deforestation or CAFO farming practices? The Government also stated alcohol users are "potentially dangerous to other people and sometimes dangerous to themselves.". Again, vague and non-factual scare tactics. They point out some alleged poor behavior by individuals on the river that “they’ve seen”. Each of these infractions they pointed out already has a LAW to address. Why do we need broad-sweeping new infringements on our freedom rather than just enforcing the laws that already exist? Let the Michigan DNR enforce the laws already on the books. Work on improving infrastructure such as recycle and trash stations, restrooms, etc. The reality is for about 40 hours a year on the eight Saturdays in July and August (70%+ of yearly livery business) Michiganders and out-of-state tourists flock to our beautiful rivers to spend the day floating down in canoes, kayaks, and tubes for 2-5 hour trips. During these few busy days each year the river is full of people relaxing and enjoying their time with family and friends, and some partake in adult beverages during their float. For many, these trips have been family gatherings for decades. During these busy days if anyone gets out of hand with their drinking, there are already laws in place to deal with them (ie. drunk and disorderly, littering, etc). This is no different than how we manage festivals, local beer tents, concerts etc. What does this ban hurt? This ban will have a devastating effect on local economies and businesses. It’s not only the liveries that will suffer; outfitters, hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, bars, hardware stores and others will suffer greatly. If businesses close, jobs will be lost and the tax base will be lowered - this will effect senior services, schools, parks, and other city services. Families are already canceling their summer reservations in the affected towns. Property values in the surrounding communities will be impacted. Our rights as Americans! A couple of Federal bureaucrats working in Cadillac and Chicago, who are not even native to Michigan, have signed an order to ban alcohol in America. Prohibition was repealed December 5th 1933 with the passage of the 21st amendment. Who are they to take away our rights? We want to be free Americans and have fun with our friends and family on the river! This aggression will not stand man! On a personal note: We float the Ausable dozens of times a year, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. We’ve been doing this for 35 years. Our children started when they were in diapers, and now continue the tradition as grown adults. Sometimes we go out with the large groups and sometimes we follow behind them. The liveries last drop in is around 2:30 PM. We rarely see any litter, and if we do it’s a rogue flip flop or empty plastic water bottle. We always pick up anything we see. We have never witnessed a fight or anyone getting out of control. When we are in the mix of the larger groups, we see people truly having fun and enjoying themselves. Laughter, fun conversations, and friendly waves with a lot of great people. There are kids swimming, having water fights, and playing. There are young and old, all ethnicities, family reunions, and bachelorette parties. We even know a couple that got married on the river. WE LOVE IT! News articles and supporters of our cause: Rep. Cole: Feds overstepped the line with alcohol ban http://gophouse.org/rep-cole-feds-overstepped-line-alcohol-ban/ NBC 25 News   FYI: Funds collected by change.org are not going to ‘Our rivers’. The donations go towards moving the petition up on the change.org site only.     

Our River
57,290 supporters
Closed
Petitioning United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agriculture/Animal and plant inspection services, City of Columbus

SHUT DOWN GROVE CITY REPTILES

When you walk by a pet store and see an adorable puppy or kitten waiting for a home, it can be tempting to go inside, we know. Grove City Reptiles will be one of the worst pet shops you will ever enter. They Don't Keep The Animals Clean. The animals have coats that look matted, wet or as if they haven't been given a bath in a long time! The owner isn't worried about keeping the animals clean. The owner isn’t paying much attention to the conditions from which they came. Animals should never be left to roll around in their own waste and in THIS pet store you might see feces sitting in a pile right next to the animal. The majority of the animals at Grove City Reptile are showing symptoms of being sick. The puppies show symptoms like sniffling and sneezing. (Common symptoms for kennel cough). These animals are in desperate need of medical attention. Not only are the majority of animals showing signs of being ill, the cages are too small. (Small housing and unsanitary housing leads to this outbreak in the animal’s health and wellbeing). THERE IS NOT ENOUGH ROOM for the animals to roam around, without having to sleep in their own fluids! YOU CAN ACTUALLY SMELL the lingering aromas of animal excrement, urine. Just more proof to the animals unsanitary conditions and upkeep. This pet store is keeping the animals in tiny tanks, cages that are too small for one animal to fit inside comfortably, yet in the pictures below you’ll see two or three animals stuffed inside together. This is a sign the store is about profit, not about finding its animals good homes and humane living arrangements. The cages are typically wired to allow feces and urine to fall through (except for the parts that get stuck on the wiring which hurts the animal’s paws. GROVE CITY REPTILES will not make any changes; they are only in it for the money. All of the animals there are suffering and it’s up to us to make a change. They don’t have a voice so we must speak up for them. I know there are so many of you that have gone into Grove City Reptiles and witnessed firsthand every thing I have been talking about. Thank you for the support. Let’s make a change.   P.S Please submit a complaint to the united states department of agriculture , visit their website at www.aphis.usda.gov use their online complaint form .

Meghan Poirier
13,290 supporters
Closed
Petitioning United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Why would animal shelters make euthanasia CHEAPER then the cost to relinquish a pet!

November 8, 2017 was an eye opener for me. I’m calling this  “Change For Chopper”  in honor of this sweet dog above with the sad cofused eyes. I'm so grateful I was in the right place at the right time to help this beautiful dog from a terrible fate. That day I discovered something that broke my heart. Relinquishing a pet at the shelter is more costly then euthanizing it. While the story below is “Choppers story” sadly this is the reality for many other beautiful animals that are taken to the shelters by their owners. I was at the animal shelter picking up an emaciated stray dog in need of help when a man and woman walked into the front office. I turned around and complimented their beautiful Shiba Inu dog, my daughter has one so I recognized the breed. He shocked me by saying he was there to euthanize his 5 year old dog simply because it didn’t listen to him. He went on to say he'd euthanized three other dogs this year for similar reasons. My heart sank, I pleaded with him to relinquish the dog instead and give him a second chance. He responded with “it’s cheaper to put him down, why don’t you pay for it then.” So I did, I paid the $80 for Chopper to get that second chance. That's more then double what it cost to euthanize. He was willing to put down his devoted, loving, healthy 5 year old dog simply because euthanasia is cheaper then relinquishing. I immediately called my daughter who put Chopper and his story on Facebook. The response was tremendous! People everywhere wanted to save him. Chopper didn’t even spend 24 hours at that shelter before getting his new forever home.  We can’t stop those that make a rash and very cruel decision to give up on their pet, but we can make euthanasia the less desireable choice by having a relinquishing fee LESS money then the euthanasia fee.

Sue Val
8,205 supporters