Friday, March 28, 2008

Willie Nelson teams up with ALDF in standing up for cows

I've always liked Willie Nelson - now I have a reason to like him even more. The Mercury News reports that Willie has joined a campaign by the Animal Legal Defense Fund that protests the treatment dairy cows from a California ranch. In 2006, the ALDF filed suit against the the Mendes Calf Ranch in Tipton asserting that the confinement of calves in crates violates state anti-cruelty laws. Willie is supporting an online petition aimed at getting Land O’Lakes and Challenge Dairy to stop using Mendes facilities to house the calves of their milking cows. The text of a letter by Nelson is available at ALDF's press release about Willie's support. Willie states, in part:
I’ll be 75 years old next month, and I have seen a lot of this country in my many years on the road. It’s a tragedy to see the small-town farmer, who cared deeply for his backyard animals, is rapidly being edged out by huge facilities that look more like factories than farms--and treat animals no better than machines.

That’s why I’ve joined more than 20,000 other concerned Americans in signing the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s petition urging you to please take action to stop the abuse of thousands of baby cows linked to Land O’ Lakes dairy products.

Some of your suppliers use California’s Mendes Calf Ranch to house the calves of their milking cows. These babies are taken from their mothers soon after birth and shipped away to live by themselves for extended periods in cramped, filthy crates--often without enough room to turn around or lie down naturally.

The confinement of calves at Mendes is in violation of California’s animal cruelty laws, and it is not a practice befitting your company. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is filing their appeal in ALDF v. Mendes in the Supreme Court of California this week, and their lawyers will continue to seek justice for these cows in the courtroom. Meanwhile, many thousands of citizens have signed the petition at urging you to cut all ties with Mendes Calf Ranch, as well as any other operation engaging in the same practices, unless and until those operations provide humane conditions for their calves.

As a cowboy, I must stand up for cows. Please consider my concerns, and those of the thousands of others who have joined me in signing the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s petition to Free Baby Mendes, and insist that your suppliers end this cruel confinement practice immediately.

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