Federal Judge Overturns Foie Gras Ban; You Still Don’t Need to Eat it

In a setback for animal advocates, a federal judge struck down California’s Foie Gras ban this past Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that the ban was unconsitutional because it clashed with existing federal laws on poultry products. Foie Gras is a product that has been under fire due to its controversial and cruel method of production: force feeding a duck or goose until it develops liver disease, resulting in a fatty liver. Considered a French delicacy, California was the first and only state to ban the production and sale of Foie Gras through a bill passed by its state legislature in 2004. The bill went into full effect in 2012.

A Goose being force fed for Foie Gras.

A Goose being force fed for Foie Gras.

One example of a dish using Foie Gras.

One example of a dish using Foie Gras.

This ruling raises concerns regarding the future of California’s battery cage egg ban. The LA Times states that, “Experts said the ruling would have no bearing on California’s new egg law, which requires more space for laying hens, because eggs aren’t covered by the Poultry Products Inspection Act.” However, an issue around the 2013 Farm Bill (read our article about it here) was the King Amendment, which although not ultimately passed, attempted to regulate states’ ability to regulate any agricultural products that impacted interstate commerce, such as egg production. This bill was introduced by Iowa Senator Steve King. This is no surprise as California, the most populated state by far, consumes an enormous amount of eggs while Iowa produces the most. Back in 2013, I went back and forth with Pennsylvania (another large egg producing state) U.S. Rep Glenn Thompson on this issue.

There is hope, however. While there is reason to be skeptical that voters and representatives can regulate agriculture in their own communities, the Foie Gras ban, as well as other organizations, have brought light to this issue. If you oppose Foie Gras, you probably won’t eat it. Individual decisions can have just as strong of an impact as any state law. Refuse Foie Gras and avoid establishments which serve it.

And if you do eat it, well, you’re just an asshole.

Sources: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-foie-gras-ban-lifted-20150108-story.html

Images:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Foie_gras_en_cocotte.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/Foie_gras_-_gavage_in_Rocamadour,_France.jpg

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King Amendment Defeated!

Senator Steve King (R-IA), the namesake of the amendment. (From his official website).

Senator Steve King (R-IA), the namesake of the amendment. (From his official website).

If you have been following the Farm Bill (which has been quite a long process this time around) or you read our post back in June, you may be familiar with the King Amendment. It is an addendum which sought to strengthen and centralize the federal government’s regulation of interstate agricultural commerce. In response to a letter I wrote some months ago to my representative, Glenn Thompson (R-PA), he explained that the debate was largely fueled by:

[A] California law through a ballot initiative that established state standards regarding the housing of chickens on farms. As a result, eggs cannot be imported from any other state, unless the eggs were produced in accordance with California’s standards. Because the U.S. Constitution expressly states that the authority to regulate interstate commerce resides with the federal government through the “Commerce Clause” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3), many elected officials from both political parties have voiced concerns over California’s law.” -email from Glenn Thompson, Nov. 13th, 2013.

Later, I criticized Thompson, a republican, of denying states the right to chose how to regulate their own agriculture and food products, which seemed weird for a conservative. The bills namesake, is Iowa representative Steve King. I am sure it is no coincidence that his state produces the most eggs by a huge margin (click here for egg production by state)(American Egg Board).

This bill had serious implications for animal welfare and the regulation of animal agriculture as it threatened to nullify not only California’s law (and California’s foie gras ban), but various other animal welfare laws in many states, including Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, the Northern Mariana Island, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Rhode Island (HSUS).

This past week however, animal advocates and those who value agricultural transparency and freedom celebrated as the Farm Bill Conference Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives released the final version of the Farm Bill, in which the King Amendment was omitted (Green, ALDF, 2014).

With the exclusion of this dreaded amendment, various animal welfare and agriculture groups are now urging representatives to pass the farm bill. Click here to see how you can help!

Sources:  Green, Chris. 2014″King Amendment Officially Rejected!”From Animal Legal Defense Fund. Accessed January 31, 2014 from http://aldf.org/blog/king-amendment-officially-rejected/

“Egg Industy Fact Sheet”. American Egg Board. Accessed January 31, 2014 from http://www.aeb.org/egg-industry/industry-facts/egg-industry-facts-sheet

“The King Amendment:A Potential Disaster for Protecting Animals”. The Humane Society of the United States. Accessed January 31, 2014 from http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/king-amendment.html

http://steveking.house.gov

As Promised, Farm Bill Part 2.

This past June, the U.S. House of Representatives was unable to pass a new Farm Bill. If you read my June 26th article, What is the Farm Bill, Anyways?, you may remember that I mentioned you would be hearing about it again, as it is an important bill that not only deals with agricultural subsidies and regulations, but food assistance programs. In summary, the House did not pass a new Farm Bill due to debate of cuts to food assistance programs. Democrats thought the cuts were too steep, while Republicans felt they were too little. In an interesting turn of events, the Farm Bill is in the process of being split up into a series of smaller, more specific bills. This is unique because what was once a large bipartisan project has turned into partisan bickering.

Last month, the G.O.P. controlled house was able to pass a bill that did not include food stamps, but it will certainly be opposed by the majority democratic Senate. This has led to speculation about what will have to happen before the September 30th deadline when the current Farm Bill expires. Check out this short article from the Vindicator, a Youngstown, OH area newspaper that I feels explains the situation well.

Finally, a huge reason why I felt it was time to write about the Farm Bill, is the dreaded King Amendment, which my fellow Urban Hermit, Lauren, wrote about in her June 26th article. This was initially included in the Farm Bill that the House voted on in June. Introduced by Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa), this is an anti-regulation initiative that threatens to reverse a lot of progress that animal right groups have worked hard for. The Humane Society of the United States heavily opposes the King Amendment and requests that you take action: Click here to see what you can do! The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also opposes the King Amendment, see here. Of course, if you would like to personally message Sen. King and tell him how you feel, you can do so here.

Finally, I am going to leave you all with a New York Times opinion piece by Gail Collins that provides some interesting perspective on the Farm Bill battle, particularity the dispute over food assistance.

Image Source: Minnesota Farm, keeva999, Flickr, 1 October 2011.

Sources: “Dysfunctional house fails to pass comprehensive farm bill”. Vindy.com. 2 August 2013.

The King Amendment

Following up on the 2013 Farm Bill – its rejection was not all bad news. An amendment on the bill, created by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, had the potential to nullify numerous state animal protection laws, including those regarding factory farm confinement, food safety, environmental protection, and worker safety. This has been coined the “King Amendment”.

The Senate version of the Farm Bill did not contain any language similar to the King Amendment.  The Humane Society of the United States and other groups strongly advocated to remove the King Amendment from the House Farm Bill on the floor, where the Farm Bill was rejected.

Hopefully, the next version of Farm Bill will be more sound in its entirety.

King’s amendment would have overturned voter-approved animal welfare ballot measures such as Proposition 2 in California (banning extreme confinement crates for pigs, veal calves and laying hens), Proposition 204 in Arizona (banning veal and pig gestation crates) and Amendment 10 in Florida (outlawing pig gestation crates). Photo by ASPCA

See current legal protections for farm animals here from ASPCA.

Sources: Anna West, The Humane Society of the United States, 16 May 2013; ASPCA, 2013