November 2, 2001 What’s Next

At year’s end, it is appropriate to review where the bird shipping industry has been, and, most importantly, where we need to go to insure that bird shippers have all the regulatory and legislative assistance to continue their respective businesses without undue burdens from the air transportation industry.
As you will recall, the reason for the formation of the Bird Shippers of America (BSA) was in response to an announced air carrier policy that they would no longer air transport poultry by the U.S. Mail. With the active grass-roots support from the industry, we were successful in legislatively establishing the legal right to ship day-old chicks by airmail. This was accomplished by having legislation introduced in the Congress that eventually became an amendment to the Treasury and General Appropriations Bill in 2001. This was not easy undertaking as the industry faced well-funded opposition from the air carrier industry as well as animal rights groups. Again, with such continued opposition, by an amendment to the Farm Bill in 2002, we have insured that that protection will continue.
It might be added that in the aftermath of the tragedy September 11th, 2001, we had to work with the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain an exemption for bird shipments as all packages in excess of 16 ounces were temporarily banned for cargo on passenger aircraft. We were also successful in this regard.
Certainly, significant steps … but there is further work that needs to be accomplished.
Most air carriers are now refusing to take day-old poultry when the temperature at the airport cargo facility reaches 85 degrees Fahrenheit (F). That (inappropriate) guideline is one that has been established by the regulations under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that states, in part: “The ambient temperature…must not rise above 85 deg. F. (29.5 deg. C) for more that 4 consecutive hours when dogs and cats are present.” [Emphasis added]. 7 USC § 2132 (g); 9 CFR § 3.2(a). There are two material problems with that guideline.
Firstly, “poultry” is specifically exempt from the AWA and the regulations there under.
Secondly, and more significantly, the 85 degree F is an inappropriate temperature level in that day-old chicks are hatched in 95 to 100 degrees F and should be kept at that temperature from up to one week of age.
Attempts to “educate” the air carrier industry through the Air Transport Association Cargo Committee have not been successful.
However, we have caused a dialogue between the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Postal Service urging that a Postal Bulletin be issued regarding appropriate guidelines on the shipment of day-old chicks. So far we have obtained an acknowledgement from the Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services at the USDA that the temperature guidelines used by air carriers is inappropriate for day-old chicks. Discussions have taken place between officials at USDA and the USPS but nothing has been resolved to date.
This matter is a priority item and needs to be finalized as soon as possible. We may need to seek Congressional assistance in this regard. We shall keep you advised as to developments.
Under contract with the USPS, Federal Express (FedEx) took over the USPS Eagle air mail carrier program. In regard to the legislation that was passed regarding the USPS requiring air carriers who transport mail to “accept as mail shipments of day-old poultry and other live animals as postal regulations will allow to be transmitted as mail matter,” FedEx has maintained that it is not covered by the language of the legislation since it specifically states that the authority of the USPS “shall not apply in the case of any air carrier who commonly and regularly refuses to accept any live animals as cargo. 39 USC § 5402 (d). Federal Express maintains it does “commonly and regularly refuses to accept any live animals as cargo.” Id.
Not so. If you go to the FedEx website you will find the following stated policy:
FedEx does not accept live animal shipments as part of its regularly scheduled service. Live animals will be accepted when the shipment is coordinated and approved by the FedEx Live Animal Desk. Acceptable shipments include, but are not limited to, zoo animals (to and from zoo locations only) and horses (from gateway to gateway locations only). Household pets, such as domestic cats and dogs, are not accepted. For more information, please contact FedEx Live Animal Desk at 800 405-9052. [Emphasis added]. Fed.Ex. Terms and Conditions-Live Animals
In addition to its own stated policy on shipping specific general animal species (i.e., zoo species and horses), we know for a fact, that FedEx has shipped laboratory animals as well as other farm animals by air. Consequently, it is believed that the language of the legislation stating that the USPS can “require any air carrier to accept as mail shipments of day-old poultry and other such animals” would apply to FedEx since, by its own terms, it is not an “air carrier who does not “commonly and regularly refuses to accept any live animals as cargo.” Id. [Emphasis added].
This is an issue that will be pursued legally, administratively as well as legislatively, if necessary.
These is presently being developed a nationwide coalition of various associations, organizations, clubs, businesses, and individuals interested in seeking legislation requiring air carriers to accept any live animal as air cargo under reasonable regulations. These formal groups range from species specific such as dogs (sporting and show), cats, birds, the entire pets industry and its specific interests (including fish, birds, reptiles and other mammals), medical research, entertainment (e.g., circuses), and zoos. Proposed legislation has already been drafted where it is intended to seeking its introduction in 108th Congress convening in January 2003.
The industry has come a long way from the day we faced virtual extinction as an industry due to the announced air carrier policy of not taking day-old chicks and other poultry by airmail transport. These accomplishments certainly could not have been achieved without your grass-roots response urging and supporting Members of the Congress in their legislative efforts in the face of strong and well-funded opposition. The industry has a way to go but we are confident with your continued support and assistance we can achieve our goals.
Happy holiday and best wishes for the new year!
Murray McMurray, Chairman

October 18, 2001 – Update

On Wednesday, October 17th, BSA received a call from our lobbyist, Steve Boynton, who indicated our position on House bill H.R. 2590 (Senate S.1397) was in jeopardy. As he sees it, there are four key players on the committee to approve this appropriation: Representatives Istook of Oklahoma and Hoyer of Maryland and Senators Dorgan of North Dakota and Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado. According to Steve’s sources, only Nighthorse Campbell is on our side at this time.
Why is this happening? Why are we not able to convince these legislators we are right? This is very simple, my friends. The animal rights folks have convinced our Washington Representatives and Senators that we, the shippers of poultry, are uncaring sorts who knowingly send birds through the mail expecting a huge death loss. Where does this come from? Again this is quite simple. Mr. Kurt Ebenhock, of Northwest Airlines, has been quoted as saying up to 30% of baby chicks die while in route and that their airline receives many crushed boxes from the postal service. Of course all of us know these statements are not true and when asked, neither Northwest nor the animal rights groups have ever been able to document statistically any of those claims. Is there ever a death loss? Of course there is but in those few cases it can be directly related to human error. Human error can be corrected through management at the hatchery, USPS, or air carrier.
We all know that to stay in business we must be able to ship our poultry to our customer successfully with live arrival guaranteed. Remember, WE ARE THE EXPERTS IN SHIPPING BIRDS THROUGH THE MAIL! Most of us have done this as a profitable business for decades. We know how to safely and successfully ship the birds depending on the environment presented to us at shipping time. Both the airlines and the Post Office do a nice job of helping us but it is we, the shippers, who know how to get our birds to our customers alive and full of vitality. Experience is our teacher and profit is our measure of success. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
As of today, Thursday, October 18th, because of the anthrax scare in the House, our bill has been put on hold and the committee is not meeting until next week. As sad as that is, it does give us a window of opportunity. If you have any connections to any of the above-mentioned people don’t wait to play your card. Even if you do not have a connection or they are not your congressional representatives, take a minute to call or fax them or their staff and voice your disapproval in their decision to not support our amendment. Call your Senator or Congressmen and have them contact them for you. Tell them why you think they are wrong and what the economic impact this will have on your business and customers. You must act now. Call or Fax them today. Our future may depend on it.
Senator Bryan Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman, Subcommittee on Treasury and General Government of the Senate Appropriations Committee [District Offices: Bismark,701 250-4618; Grand Forks – 701-746-8972; Fargo – 701 239-5389; Minot 701 852-0703].
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), ranking member of the Subcommittee [Staff Pat Raymond 202 224-7337 (T)] [District Offices: Greenwood Village – 303 843-4100; Colorado Springs – 719 636-9092; Ft. Collins – 970 206-1788; Pueblo Springs – 719 542-6987; Grand Junction – 970 241- 6631]
Representative Ernest Istook (R-OK), Chairman, Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government of the House Appropriations Committee.[Staff: Michel Merdessa (sp?) 202 225-5834 (T)] District Offices: Oklahoma City 405 942-3636 (T); Bartlesville – 918 336-5546; Ponca City -580 -762-6778]
Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD) ranking member of the Subcommittee.[Staff: Scott Nance 202-225-5834 (T) 225-5895 (F)] [District Offices: Greenbelt 301 474-0119; Waldorf – 301 843-1577].

October 09, 2001 – Update


All of the hatcheries and other folks involved with
shipping live birds have finally gotten a bill, HR 2590, through
the Senate and into committee. To insure that we will be able
to stay in business and ship your poultry to you this coming season,
this bill must be passed through committee just as it is stated
without any changes in the language.

PETA and the Human Society, two very active animal
rights groups, are contacting each committee member asking them
to consider changing the language of this bill. A change in the
language is what the animal rights people want and dismantles
our bill and all we have worked for. Please don’t let them win.

Every office on Capitol Hill can be reached by calling
202-224-3121. Listed below is a list of the committee members.
If any of these listed elected officials represent you or your
district, please take the time to give this number a call and
tell them NOT TO CHANGE THE LANGUAGE IN BILL – H.R. 2590. Even
if you are not represented on this committee please call your
Senator and urge them to tell their peers on the committee to
not change this language.

We are on the last hill. Help us reach the top.

Thank you.
Murray McMurray Hatchery


Republicans   Democrats  
Istook 5th District
Frank Wolf 10th District
Anne M. Northup 3rd District
John E. Sununu 1st District
John E. Peterson 5th Distinct
Hoyer 5th District
Carrie Meek 17th District David E. Price 4th District
Steven Rothman 9th District
Peter J. Visclosky 1st District


Republicans   Democrats  
Ben Nighthorse
Richard C. Shelby
Mike DeWine
I. Dorgan
Barbara A. Mikulski
Mary Landrieu

September 27, 2001 September 27, 2001 – Updates

One week ago, Friday, September 21st, the US Senate passed Bill S.1397. This bill was attached to the Treasury Postal Appropriations Act and co-sponsored by Senators Grassley of Iowa and Feingold of Wisconsin. It was a bi-partisan bill and supported very successfully by the Senate.
The bill now goes to committee where three things can happen:
1. They can change the language of the bill.
2. They can throw the bill out
3. They can accept the bill as it is written
We feel we have a very good chance of getting this bill through the committee as it is written. After approval by the committee the bill will go back to both the House and the Senate for a final vote and then to the President for his signature.
Our success in getting this far, this quickly is a direct result of you folks and your belief in the grass-roots approach to American politics. Without the thousands of letters, email, and phone calls, this issue would have been pushed to the back burner and ignored. Because of your participation in exercising your democratic rights, we are close to our goals.
Our battle is still not complete and we will be asking, once again, for more help in the future to give this bill the final push we’ll need to get it passed. We wish to thank all of you who have made this progress possible. On behalf of the Birds Shippers of America, “Thank you.”
Murray McMurray, Chairman
Bird Shippers of America

September 5, 2001 – Update

Things are going well with new members and contributions coming
in everyday. We thank all of you who have recognized the need for
this organization and taken the lead by becoming a member.

We have hired a lobbyist, Stephen Boynton, an attorney in Washington,
DC. Steve is actively pursuing legislative action using language
that will meet the needs of our industry.

The grassroots support from around the country has been very influential
in gaining the attention of our senators and congressional representatives.
Your faxes, phone calls, and letters have had a great impact on
both the congress and the Post Office. Mr. Paul Vogel, V.P. of Transportation
of the USPS stated that there had not been this much attention to
a postal issue in several years. Thank you.

It is obvious that the animal rights coalitions will become more
active in our fight. It is very important to recognize their strength
but also realize that these folks are at best, less than 3% of the
population and rather radical in their beliefs and actions. Respect
them but do not be afraid of them. Our grassroots support for legislation
regarding live animal air shipments far exceeds any influence the
animal rights folks may have in trying to influence Congress.

As of Friday August 30th, through a conference call with the USPS,
it was confirmed that Northwest Air would not continue to take day-old
poultry as of September 1st. In addition to this, the post office
issued a list of cities from which birds could not be shipped. The
Post Office letter and list is printed below:


Pursuant to DMM C022.3.11, the USPS does not accept any shipment
of live animals that the USPS reasonably believes cannot reach its
destination in a viable condition.

Northwest Airlines has announced that effective Saturday, September
1, 2001, it will no longer carry live animals as mail. Consequently,
shipments of live animals, including day-old poultry, should not
be accepted for mailing in areas which relied upon Northwest for
air transportation of such shipments.

The following airports are temporarily unavailable for live animal
shipments. Therefore, acceptance personnel that use these airports
as primary dispatch points are temporarily embargoed from accepting
live animals. If a shipper is entering mail at an AMF/AMC serviced
by an airport on this list, AMF/AMC management is authorized to
accept live animals to the extent airlift capacity is available.



August 8, 2001 – Northwest Airlines Response

“Northwest Airlines new policy effective Aug. 15, 2001 of carrying day-old poultry as cargo rather than as U.S. mail is based on the welfare of the animals. Northwest has received boxes of crushed poultry and shipments that do not meet our temperature standards via the U.S. mail system which have resulted in dead birds. Sending the chicks via cargo gives Northwest better control over the shipments and helps to ensure the health of the poultry. Northwest’s cargo rates for these shipments are competitive with Priority and Express Mail services and in most cases the cargo service provides same day delivery (airport to airport).”
Eric McGowen
Supervisor, Customer Relations
Northwest/KLM Airlines”
There are a number of problems with this response:
1. If they are receiving damaged boxes this is a procedural problem that I am sure we can fix by working with the Post Office.
2. Historical statistics show that shipping birds through the US Mail is safe, losses have been under 1%.
3. There is a temperature limit of 85 degrees F already in place, if the Post Office is giving them birds to ship above this limit that again is a procedural problem that can be fixed by working with the Post Office. The fact is, since these birds are born in 100 degree F and we recommend that they are kept above 90 degrees for the first several weeks.
4. We called last week and got a quote to ship a box of 25 birds to Northern California, that quote was for $122.00. That is not competitive with Priority Mail at $5.40.
5. They also mention that this service is from airport to airport, NOT to your door like the US mail. You will have to pick up the birds at the airport which Northwest uses.
6. The time required to fill out paperwork, figure out the closest airport to you, and deliver each individual box to Northwest will increase our costs, which will have to be passed on to our customers.

August 8, 2001 – Progress Report

hank you all for your response. To-date almost 10,000 of you have taken the time to add your name and comments to our e-mail campaign.
The first round of e-mail has been sent out to your Senators. The following Senators could not be reached by e-mail so your comments were printed and mailed to them.
Nelson-FL, Grassle-IA, Kohl-WI, Wyden-OR, Boxer-CA,
Clinton-NY, Cleland-GA, Sarbanes-MD, Corzine-NJ,
Akken-VA, Santorum-PA, Cantwell-WA, Warner-VA,
Hollings-SC, Kyl-AZ, Daschle-SD, Wellstone-MN,
We have sent out the e-mail to your Representatives and are waiting to see how many are returned undeliverable. We will mail your comments to any we do not reach by e-mail.
According to a new study, members of Congress are inundated with so many e-mail messages that lawmakers routinely ignore most of them. Please call or write (using US Mail) Congressmen/Congresswomen and explain our problem to them personally. You can obtain phone numbers and addresses at and or call the Senate and House Operator at 202/224-3121 (Senate) or 202/225-3121(House).
Because of the e-mail response out of Washington, we have changed the page on our website so that you can print a letter and mail it to your congressmen and congresswomen.
We will print the response we have already received and send them to each of the Senators and Representatives, but we will not be sending out any more e-mails. Individual letters directly from you with your city’s Postmark will have a bigger impact.
We have been in contact with Iowa’s Senators Harkin and Grassley. They and their staff are working to solve this problem. At this time Northwest Airlines are not backing off their decision and the August 15th deadline is fast approaching.
We realize that it is only a matter of time that all airlines will stop carrying day-old poultry if Northwest is allowed to quit.
Associated Press has picked up the story. Some of you may see it in your local papers. We have had a lot of local press coverage, but we need your help to get coverage in your local press. Call your local TV, Radio, and Newspapers and ask them to cover this story and how it affects you. We would be happy to supply any information the press requires. Have them call our toll free number 1-800-456-3280.
We are working with Stephen S. Boynton, Counsel and Lobbyist for the North American Gamebird Association (the pheasant and quail hatcheries). He has been working with a
number of Senate and House Committees to help get legislation passed to force all of the airlines to comply with their U.S. Mail Contract. He said in an Aug. 4 letter sent to several hatcheries nationwide:
“Every attempt has been made to reach an accord with the USPS and the airlines – even with the intervention of Congress – but the airlines and the USPS remain firm. Thus, in my judgment, the matter will only be resolved by legislation, or the threat of legislation, to correct the problem. I have been invited by Congress to draft legislation on the issue and before Congress returns from its August recess, such legislation shall be prepared.”
This has become a true grassroots operation. The circle keeps growing wider as more and more people get involved. Call your congressmen; tell them to support legislation to
force all airlines to live up to their U.S. Mail contract.
Let your voice be heard, it’s the American Way. The fight is not over.

August 8, 2001 – Band-Aid


Thank-you for your help, those letters, e-mails, and phone calls have paid off. The pressure was put on Northwest Airlines and the Airline Industry as a whole. Northwest has postponed its deadline for halting mail shipments of baby chickens until September First.
Mary Beth Schubert spokeswoman for Northwest Airlines said “Northwest Airlines is working with the Air Transport Association to develop an industry-wide agreement with the U.S. Postal Service for the transportation of live poultry as U.S. mail”.
We are guardedly optimistic that this will result in guidelines that will be to the benefit of everyone involved.
Now we need to keep pressure on Washington to pass legislation which will give the U.S. Postal Service the power to force all contracted mail carriers to carry all of the mail and not allow them to pick and choose.
We have changed our website e-mail campaign to a U.S. mail campaign. You can go to our website and print out letters for your senators and representative, over 600 have done so in the last few days.
You should all pat yourself on the back for the great work you have done to this point.
The American way is alive and working for all of us.
We will keep you posted as things develop.

August 1, 2001 – We Need Your Help

The United States Post Office is the only service in the United States, which will carry day old poultry. UPS, Federal Express, Airborne Express, and every other carrier in the US will not carry poultry. As all of you who have bought live day-old poultry from us know, we ship your order for baby chicks, ducklings, goslings, etc. to you via the airlines. We are able to do this because all airlines have a very lucrative contract with the United States Post Office to carry mail.
We were just notified that as of August 15, 2001 Northwest has decided to join a long list of other airlines, which refuse to carry day-old poultry as United States Mail. (In the past the post office has allowed the airlines to pick and choose which type of US Mail they wish to carry.) This decision by Northwest Airlines will probably force the few remaining airlines that do carry poultry to follow suit. The end result of these actions is there will no longer be a way to purchase poultry through the mail because no airlines will carry your order. Unless this can be resolved a number mail order hatcheries will more than likely go out of business.
We are begging for your support and help on this issue. Write your congressional representatives we MUST make them aware of this very crucial problem. We are very worried that mail order poultry and other birds, like so many other great things of our rich heritage, may become a thing of the past. This issue does not only affect hatcheries. Every feed store, 4-H Club, poultry equipment manufacturer, pharmaceutical company, school science project, and any other individual or company which has a finger in raising poultry and other birds on the small scale will be hurt.
Please lend us your assistance on this issue. Click on Take Action Now in the left nav-bar to print out a sample letter for your congressional representatives.
Thank you.

Bird Shippers of America – Who Are We?

The Constitution and the statutes enacted by our Congress guarantee and are designed to insure that postal patrons receive “prompt, reliable, and efficient” postal service “to all communities.” In 2002, the Bird Shippers of America, a group of business, individuals, and allied industry was formed. The primary purpose of this organization would be to protect the right to ship live birds, of various types, through the United States Postal Service. Our membership provides the revenue to hire a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. who actively leads us through the complicated scheme of our country’s politics in trying to succeed in our mission.