House Passes King Amendment

NewChickens109HiUpdate July 16, 2013:On July 11, 2013 by a vote of 216-208, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the King amendment as part of H.R. 2642, the Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, now the Farm bill. Section 11312 contains the King amendment. The bill now goes to the Senate. For more on what this amendment means, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: An amendment by U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to the House Agriculture Committee version of the FARRM bill would threaten the ability of state and local governments to regulate animal welfare within their borders. Congressman King’s amendment provides “one state cannot deny the trade of an agricultural product from another state based on that product’s means of production.”

The King amendment was approved as part of the House Agriculture Committee’s version of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) of 2013, H.R. 1947, on May 15, 2013 by a vote of 36-10.

King’s amendment would target, for example, the 2010 California law that prohibits sale of eggs in the state that are from hens kept in conditions inconsistent with Cal Health & Saf Code Sec. 25990. That law, known as California’s anti-confinement law for farm animals, requires that “for all or the majority of any day”, egg laying hens must be able to lay down, stand up and fully extend their limbs or wings without touching the sides of an enclosure or other hens, and also turn around freely. See further Cal Health & Saf Code Section 25991.

Under Congressman King’s amendment this California law could not be applied to foreign egg producers that want to sell eggs in the state. Other jurisdictions could sell eggs from hens cruelly crammed into battery cages and likely undercut the prices of local egg producers that must meet state humane standards.

Mr. King’s amendment would wreak havoc with efforts of local citizens to stop animal cruelty and threaten protections not only for egg laying hens and other farm animals, but also laws that prohibit or regulate puppy and cat mills and other animal breeders, ban horse slaughter and protect wildlife. The King amendment would threaten state and local standards for food safety, environmental protection and worker safety. Rep. King would force every state and locale to open its markets to those producers with the worst standards. Don’t let Congressman King undermine state’s rights and turn the clock back centuries on standards for animal welfare, the environment, and food and worker safety.


Find your U.S. Senators here. Contact them (letters or calls are best) and urge your senators to offer or support an amendment to repeal the King amendment and to vote NO to H.R. 2642, the 2013 FARRM bill unless the King amendment is removed.

Video Reveals Ghastly Cruelty in Foie Gras Production

geese_on_water_with_ducks_photographs_photos_pictures_1024_x_768New York State Senator Tony Avello has introduced a bill, S.B. 456, that would make it illegal under the state’s animal cruelty law, NYS AG & Mkts. Law Section 353, to “force feed[] a bird, by hand or machine, for the purpose of fatty enlargement of [the] bird’s liver”. This would make production of foie gras in New York illegal animal cruelty.

Mercy for Animals has released camera footage of the force feeding of ducks and geese in New York at Hudson Valley Foie Gras. There are two known facilities that produce foie gras in the state. This bill would shut them down. The disturbing undercover video shows ducks and geese in dire pain as tubes are forced down their throats. The video reveals ducks left for dead, covered in blood. There are conscious ducks, shackled, while their throats are slashed.

In 2004 California enacted a state law, Cal Health & Saf Code §§ 25980-25984, to outlaw not only the production but also the sale of foie gras statewide. The law took effect in 2012. Go here for more on earlier efforts to ban foie gras production in New York.

Foie gras is considered a delicacy. It is fattened duck or goose liver. To make foie gras, producers confine ducks or geese in sheds and force feed them extraordinary quantities of food two or three times each day for some weeks. To force feed these animals, a metal pipe is shoved down their throats. Food is then pushed through the pipe into their stomachs. The birds are forced to consume each day ¼ to 1/3 of their body weight. The force feeding results in livers swollen to ten times their normal size and fatty liver disease. The animals have difficulty standing, walking and breathing. They choke and suffer ruptured throats. Their legs become crippled and they develop sores.

These birds are denied all natural behaviors as they are tortured each day in a dark shed. Many die during this process. It is an understatement to describe it as a cruel and inhumane process.

Surely, humans do not need to torture animals to create delicacies.


Find your New York state senator here. The bill, S.B. 456, has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Find committee members here. Call or write (faxes or letters are best) your state senator and committee members and urge them to support an end to cruel force feeding of ducks and geese.

USDA Allows Slaughterhouse to Re-Open Despite Abuse


Update Aug. 28, 2012: The USDA has allowed Central Valley Meat Co. (CVM) in Hanford, California to re-open just days after an undercover investigation by Compassion Over Killing, a farm animal welfare organization, exposed egregious animal abuse and suffering. According to the USDA, CVM has promised to take corrective measures including training of workers, better monitoring and more third party audits.

Animal Law Coalition will provide a copy of the alleged enforcement action when it becomes available. For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below and follow the link to the Compassion Over Killing website with details about the undercover operation.

Aug. 21, 2012: An undercover video, filmed by a Compassion Over Killing investigator, exposes rampant animal abuse and suffering inside Central Valley Meat Co. (CVM), a slaughterhouse in Hanford, California. CVM is a major supplier to the USDA’s National School Lunch Program and other federal food initiatives.

Like all federally inspected slaughterhouses, CVM is required to comply with federal animal welfare requirements as well as California’s animal protection laws. However, COK’s whistleblowing video uncovers acts of cruelty that appear to violate both state and federal laws.

To read about this undercover investigation and the USDA move to shut down the CVM slaughterhouse, go to Compassion Over Killing’s site here.

Utah’s Ag-Gag Bill Signed into Law

Update March 20, 2012: Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed the ag-gag bill into law. For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below. 

Update March 9, 2012: The Utah Ag-gag bill, H.B. 187, is now headed to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature. Find contact info for the governor here. If you live in Utah, write (faxes or letters are best) or call now and urge him to veto this bill which tramples First Amendment freedoms and will enable farm animal abusers. 

Update March 7, 2012:  Utah’s Ag-gag bill, H.B. 187 passed the state Senate today and immediately the House of Representatives concurred in a minor amendment. The bill was sent for enrolling and will go to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.   

Update February 29, 2012Utah’s Ag-gag bill, H.B. 187, has passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin of 60-14. The bill now moves to the Utah Senate. 

Original report: The Utah legislature is considering a bill that would make undercover investigations of farm animal and equine cruelty illegal. The "ag-gag" bill, H.B. 187, would make it a crime for anyone to knowingly or intentionally record an image or even a sound on the premises of an agricultural operation without the owner’s consent. A violation by leaving a recording device on the property would be a Class A misdemeanor. It would be a Class B misdemeanor for violations after learning such conduct is prohibited by the owner or in cases of criminal trespass.  Rep. John Mathis is the bill’s sponsor.

The only purpose of the bill is to shut down undercover investigations that expose animal cruelty in agricutural operations. The bill would trample First Amendment rights including chilling other forms of protest.

Similar provisions in a bill in Florida  were killed in committee in 2012. Similar bills in New York, Minnesota, Iowa and Florida failed to pass in 2011. But this year a similar though revised bill has passed the Iowa legislature and the New York bill as well as the Minnesota bill carried over and are now pending. There is also a bill pending in Indiana and another in Nebraska that would shut down undercover investigations of farm animal abuse in this way.