Grandin Packing Plant Video Tour

9/15/2012 7:00 AM
By Lorraine Merrill New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner

Temple Grandin released a statement after the most recent undercover slaughterhouse video was sent to media outlets by the animal rights group Compassion Over Killing.

Her review of the activists’ video found some of the footage and narration misleading, making viewers think things are happening that are not, she said.

In her statement, the Colorado State University professor of animal science and expert on animal handling and behavior also acknowledged some practices in the undercover video that are not normal industry practice and must be stopped, including overuse and misuse of electric prods.

“In general, cattle are handled much more easily by calm and patient handlers. The more agitated they become, the more difficult they become to move. I have advised the company about specific strategies for improving handling,” Grandin said in her release.

Now the American Meat Institute and Temple Grandin have released their own “The Glass Walls Project” video, guiding viewers through the cattle slaughter process at a large beef plant.

Grandin narrates this tour to educate consumers about the meat they eat, explaining the process and procedures beginning with unloading animals from the truck. She discusses the aspects of handling and slaughter, including the events leading up to, and after, the cow is stunned.

Grandin’s video was in production long before the appearance of the most recent undercover video of Central Valley Meat Co., but it does address many of the same issues — including involuntary movements after the cow is stunned, which Grandin says is uncoordinated movement. She says such movements do not indicate the animal is conscious.

The American Meat Institute, in a blog by spokesperson Janet Reilly, explains that “the meat industry wants to satisfy public curiosity about how we handle and process livestock.”

The AMI teamed up with Grandin to create a video tour of a slaughter and processing plant that provides the context and an accurate explanation of the whole process. Reilly says Grandin used her own words to describe the process, and also directed the AMI video crew about the images to capture to help the public better understand the everyday work of a meat plant.

Reilly writes that the “Glass Walls” video is “an honest effort to convey the facts surrounding animal handling and slaughter. Our industry has a unique responsibility in first caring for live animals and then slaughtering and processing them for food, all under the watchful eye of federal inspectors. It’s hard work. It can be dirty work, but it’s important work. More than 95 percent of Americans eat meat and poultry. As meat packers, we have an ethical obligation to do the best job we can to honor the sacrifice these animals make to feed people. And now we share with the public the truth about what we do and the approach that we take to ensure that the process is as humane as we can make it.”

She thanks Grandin for her honesty and work over the last 21 years as teacher, partner and sometimes critic of the meat industry.

Find the Grandin video at

Farm Bill Woes

Congress returns for a short session this month, so neither the new Farm Bill nor appropriations bills will be passed before Oct. 1. A six-month continuing resolution will likely keep the government in business, and a three-month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill is expected.

The problem with this scenario is that dairy farmers will be left with no effective safety net at this time of crushing feed costs. A quirk of the 2008 Farm Bill dialed MILC program rates back significantly as of Sept. 1.

Northeast senators and representatives are spearheading an effort to include a MILC fix in any extension of the Farm Bill.

Lorraine Merrill is New Hampshire’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

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