Yesterday I gave an overview of the Animal Law program at Lewis & Clark Law School, including the Summer Intensive Program for current law students, practitioners, and graduate students. Today, I thought I’d provide a little more detail about the class I participated in, a two-week course on Farmed Animals, taught by Joyce Tischler, Founding Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Taking some time to focus on the substantive law available in the area of farmed animals proved to be a terrific complement to my work last summer in Washington, D.C. as a legal intern for Compassion Over Killing, an organization dedicated to ending cruelty to animals in agriculture. Because of the limitations of the few laws in place to protect animals, about 98% of all animal cruelty happens to farmed animals. The sheer number of farmed animals who need our help is staggering… BILLIONS each year in the United States alone.
Our class met for three hours each morning, for nine days (Day #10 was the exam). Here are highlights of each day, coupled with some of the reading you might want to look up on your own. If you don’t have access to the Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis databases for which I’ve provided citations, you’re likely to find many of these articles and cases (or summaries of them) elsewhere online.
- Definitions Within the Law: What is a “farmed animal”? What is “livestock”?
Considering how cultures, including our own, view particular animals differently and make distinctions between animals (i.e., a pig and a dog).
suggested read: Rahyun E. Kim, Dog Meat in Korea: A Socio-Legal Challenge. 14 Animal L. 201 (2008).
- Common Factory Farming Practices
Taking a hard look at farming practices that are widely accepted within the industry, as well as the two major federal laws that apply to farmed animals — the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the “28-Hour Law” regarding the transport of animals. Important note: the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act does not cover the slaughter of poultry; there are no standards written into law governing the slaughter of chickens and turkeys.
suggested read: David J. Wolfson and Mariann Sullivan, Foxes in the House: Animals, Agribusiness, and the Law (2004).
- State Criminal Anti-Cruelty Laws & Exemptions for Farmed Animals
In most states if a farming practice is “customary” it’s legal, no matter how cruel it might be. In effect, the industry is left to regulate itself.
case: National Meat Association v. Brown, 559 F.3d 1093 (9th Cir. 2010).
- Environmental Issues Relevant to Farmed Animal Agricultural Practices
Manure lagoons that hold 4-6 million gallons of liquid manure on a feedlot. How about that Clean Water Act? At what point can the EPA step in?
case: Assateague Coastkeeper v. Hudson Farm, 727 F. Supp. 2d 433 (D. Md. 2010).
- Litigation & Legislation Brought on Behalf of the Agriculture Industry
McDonald’s suing a couple of Londoners for handing out some leaflets. Texas ranchers suing Harpo Productions (Oprah). Both highly-publicized cases in which the courts had plenty to say not only about the plaintiffs and defendants, but also about the animals at the heart of the matter.
two great reads: David J. Wolfson, McLibel, 5 Animal L. 21 (1999) and Engler v. Winfrey, 201 F.3d 680 (5th Cir. 2000).
- Factory Farming, Legislation/Practices Outside the United States
I know we Americans like to think we’re super-progressive, but in the areas of animal law and welfare… not so much. Looking at the European Union and countries like Switzerland and Norway, there are great examples of improvements we could make in our own laws.
suggested read: Katrina Sharman, Farm Animals and Welfare Law: An Unhappy Union, in Animal Law in Austrailasia (2009).
- Targeting a Specific Farming Practice
Should it matter that the epicurean delight known as pate is actually the result of a diseased liver? What if the diseased liver is created deliberately by force-feeding a goose? In a recent survey, 80% of Americans disapproved of the force-feeding practice, yet foie gras is still produced in two states (CA and NY) and imported from Europe.
case: Lovenheim v. Iroqois Brands, 618 F. Supp. 554 (D.D.C. 1985).
- Humane Labeling of Products & Consumer Protection Laws
How much extra did you pay for that “all-natural” and “humanely raised” chicken? What do those labels and “certified” logos really mean? Have you just been duped into paying more for a chicken that wasn’t treated any better at all?
suggested read: Carter Dillard, False Advertising, Animals and Ethical Consumption, 10 Animal L. 25 (2004).
- Citizen Initiatives to Get Improvements for Animals
The passing of Proposition 2 in California is a wonderful example of how individuals can have a voice in our political process. The use of battery cages causes the needless suffering of billions of egg-laying hens each year. California voters, in a landslide decision, said NO to battery cages.
an inspiring read: Jonathan R. Lovvorn and Nancy Perry, California Proposition 2: A Watershed Moment in Animal Law, 15 Animal L. 149 (2009).
Special thanks to Joyce Tischler and to my classmates for sharing thoughts, insights, and experiences. Each day together, the room was charged with positive energy, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you again out there fighting the good fight… and working with you. The FIRST Farmed Animals Law class ever offered! The first class of many, I hope… as more and more people become aware of the urgency in ending these abuses to farmed animals.