witness statement

name: Howard Lyman
section: Animals
for: The Defence
experience: Animal & Grain Farmer 1963 - 1983


When animals reach the slaughter facility the only concern is to kill as many in as short a period as possible. The animals are terrified at the slaughter plant and the cruelty inflected on the animal in their last moments on earth are indescribable. I believe if viewing of slaughter was required to eat meat, most folks would become vegetarians.


My name is Howard F. Lyman and I was born in Great Falls, Montana on the 17th of September 1938. I was raised on a farm and ranch producing dairy and meat commodities.

I attended Montana State University and graduated in 1961 with a BS degree it general agriculture. Upon graduation I spent two years in the United States Army before returning to work on the farm.

From 1963 to 1983 I was actively engaged in animal and grain production. The areas in which I was involved were dairy, pork, registered Hereford, chicken, range cattle, feedlot beef production, veal, grain, silage, and hay production.

My responsibilities ranged from labor to total financial management. I was in charge of all buying and use decisions of all herbicides, pesticides, hormones, and medications used on the operation and at the time of liquidation I controlled over 1000 range cows and calves, 5000 head of cattle fed annually in confined feedlots and several thousands of acres of grain grown each year. This operation was expending several million dollars each year and at the maximum I employed over thirty employees.

Full cv: Available for this witness

full statement:

Animal Conditions:

When I first became acquainted with animal production it was at a time when all production was done using natural and organic methods. This allowed the animals a great deal of freedom and their diet was compatible with their natural choices. As production recommendations from the land grant colleges and the government extension services became more well known, the treatment of all animals started toward the present day systems of total confinement, feeding diets that reflect surplus products, and use of many chemicals that were never known of at the time I started animal husbandry.

The animal husbandry practiced today is only concerned with economics. The comfort and welfare of the animal is only important if there is the chance that the animal will fail to achieve marketability. I participated in this transition. For many years I believed the end justified the means. Today I regard the methods used in most animal production as barbaric and inhumane.

The use of confinement and chemical therapy to increase weight gain is self defeating to the point where the more animals that are crowded together, the more chemical therapy is needed to stave off massive death loss. The conditions in the present day feedlot is adequate if the weather cooperates. However, if too much rain or snow comes to area the feedlots become death traps for confined animals.

I have seen cases where large numbers of animals have died from drowning, suffocation, freezing, disease, and starvation because they were restricted the freedom to move to shelter while there was time before they became trapped. These occurrences are never reported to the general public because they would cause a tremendous backlash against the present system.

Transportation and slaughter used in the present system are far from humane and safe. The cost of moving animals is the controlling factor. If the animal is deemed fit for slaughter or sale, that will be the determining factor in how crowded the transport will be.

When animals reach the slaughter facility the only concern is to kill as many in as short a period as possible. The animals are terrified at the slaughter plant and the cruelty inflected on the animal in their last moments on earth are indescribable. I believe if viewing of slaughter was required to eat meat, most folks would become vegetarians.

Labeling of Meat:

The meat distribution system in place today makes it almost impossible to trace the origin of meat sold at the retail level in most cases. The outbreak of E. Coli 0157 H7 recently in the State of Washington showed clearly that even with the resources of the federal government the trail from the retail market to the point of production is impossible to follow. The important information learned was that the majority of that meat that was used by this breaking plant was imported.

When meat is imported into this country it immediately becomes part of the domestic supply and is indistinguishable from home-grown. This problem is further complicated in the case of ground meat. The source of this product is many different trimming and mixing operations before ending in the final product. Ground meat requires lean meat to be mixed with the abundance of fat that we produce because of feeding grain to the majority of our feedlot animals This lean meat comes from domestic cull dairy cows and imported grass fed beef.

North America imports about one-third of all the beef exports in the world. After it clears any border inspection it is treated with the same label as domestic production and in most cases, even the meat handlers couldn't identify where the product was produced.

Environmental Problems from Animal Production:

I have witnessed first-hand the problems associated with animal production and the degradation of the land base. We are placing a tremendous financial burden on the farmers and ranchers. In many cases the production costs incurred by present agricultural practices are equal to, if not more than the sale price of commodities. This means that most farmers and ranchers are producing at a loss or at best breaking even. Their only solution, in many cases, is to produce more animals on the same acreage and the land base is showing the stress of overgrazing.

The public lands in the U.S. are in the worst shape from animal abuse, and the overwhelming majority of it is classed as far below optimum. This animal abuse is not limited to any one country but is common in almost all grazing countries. Attempts by third world countries to export meat as a way of producing income to pay off borrowed funds is putting more and more stress on existing rain forests. The combination of logging and ranching is devastating to rainforest: As the loggers clear the land the ranchers move in. The use of logged land for cattle production has been encouraged by governments and this has been a total failure in many instances due in part to the poor nature of rainforest soil.

My experience in animal production convinces me that destruction of the natural land base by animals under the control of humans is out of hand. If we do not control our animal numbers, we will cause damage to the environment that is irreparable.

supplementary statement: February 24 1996

This is a supplementary statement on the US beef industry.

I was involved in the cattle production industry for over forty years in the state of Moatana in the United States of America. During this time I operated a large feeding facility that fed all types of cattle.

In the 1970's I was approached by a beef processor who claimed they supplied the McDonald's restaurant chain. They wanted me to buy beef and have them ready for slaughter on a schedule of their deterrnination; the only consideration was the price and the fatness of the animals. I was surprised there were no stipulations on drugs, implants, type of animal or country of origin. I was uninterested in this arrangement because I was expected to bear the majority of the financial risk to ensure an even supply of animals. I knew of no one who agreed to this arrangement.

When I was involved in the cattle business, I saw, many times, meat shipped in boxes very prominently labeled "inspected by USDA", but also labeled, in very fine print, that it was a product produced in Central America. I saw these kinds of products delivered to the public school system for the lunch programs that were paid for by the US government. Determining the country of origin was very difficult if you did not know what you were looking for.

I have seen video tape of a United States Senator in a hold of a ship viewing imported meat from Central America. This meat was in boxes that contained no label at all stating the country of origin, and after it was inspected by USDA inspectors, the only label it had was "USDA inspected meat". To track imported meat without the support of the company that held the manifest, in my opinion, would be almost impossible.

In Montana, I saw thousands of truck loads of fresh beef imported from Canada; for years most of it was in hanging sides. This limited the amount and how far it could be shipped. As "box beef' became the popular shipping method, the area of the world that could supply it grew. Often, the boxes in which the meat was shipped had no label, and you would have no idea of the country of origin without the manifest. I'm not sure any of the meat came from Central America, but I saw meat that was produced in Australia which is much further away, so the potential for beef to be imported from Central America certainly existed.

In Montana, we would occasionally get animals in our feeding facility that were purchased in Mexico. These animals were purchased to be used as rodeo stock, but when they failed to perform or were injured, they would be placed in the food supply system. My cousin is a rodeo contractor, and every year he makes arrangements with stock procurers in Mexico to gather acceptable animals for use in American rodeos. He told me every year it was more difficult to source the animals in Northern Mexico, so they were forced to go as far south as Central America to find the animals. These animals would come overland into Mexico to be delivered to him in Arizona or Texas. I believe almost all rodeo contractors face the same problem.

When I saw the type of cattle being fed in the southern feedlots in Arizona and Texas, I was surprised at the number of Mexican cattle represented. When I talked to the operators, they told me that there were many cheap cattle to be had in Mexico, and that the further south you went, the cheaper they became. I asked how far south they went, and they told me there was no limit. I believe there were many cattle in those lots that came from as far away as Central America.

While I was associated with the meat industry, I saw meat suppliers run out of product many times. Consequently, they would source product where ever they could in order to meet their contracts. Ground beef in bulk or patty form is impossible to trace to the original carcass. My experience has shown me that unless you have purchased the animal, slaughtered it, and processed it yourself, the country of origin could be in doubt.

During the E. coli 0157;H7 outbreak in United States fast food hamburgers, even the government could not track the origin of all the meat that was used in the ground beef. The industry is not geared to track all supplies, and a flat statement that no product was sourced in a specific country would be almost impossible to prove.

A cassette of the talk given by Howard Lyman in Edinburgh in March 1996 is available for £ 4 or £ 5 / US$8 outside the UK (all inclusive of postage) from:

references: Not applicable/ available

exhibits: Not applicable/ available
date signed: 18 July 1993
status: Appeared in court
transcripts of court appearances:

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