Speakers at the National Meat Association's annual summer conference last week, emphasized that the Hallmark/Westland downed cattle and recall incident is having a lasting effect.
The Hallmark/Westland case involved the Humane Society of the United States' undercover video taping of Hallmark employees abusing nonambulatory cows. That set in motion the nation's largest beef recall ever, and while HSUS was criticized during a governmental hearing on the case, the industry will be dealing with the effects in the long term.
Steve Dittmer, executive vice president of the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation, told attendees that HSUS's video exposure of Hallmark/Westland has helped the organization increase cash flow, and that the group is hiring investigators.
As a major supplier to the National School Lunch Program, Hallmark's connection to animal abuse and the HSUS exposure has had a ripple effect for that program. Lloyd Day, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service administrator, reported that the National School Lunch Program has spent about $90 million in beef purchases from other sources since the Hallmark incident. However, sourcing product for the progarm is becoming increasingly difficult as suppliers fear backlash.
"We do have a situation where we have some vendor problems," Day said. He further explained that there's some belief that the school lunch program is a target of HSUS, and some consequently, some sources simply don't want the government program's business.