Animal-rights groups intervene in N.M.A. lawsuit

by MEAT&POULTRY Staff
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WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Farming Association and the Animal Legal Defense Fund moved on Jan. 27 to intervene in a lawsuit "that seeks to overturn key provisions of California's newly upgraded law banning the use of sick and disabled animals in the food supply," according to HSUS. The amended law, introduced as A.B. 2098 by Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, took effect Jan. 1.

The National Meat Association, however, explained earlier in a press release on the lawsuit it initiated that at issue is whether state or federal law applies to the handling of swine that are unwilling to move independently upon arrival at USDA-inspected establishments, and whether they are still fit for entry into the food system, when they are merely tired or otherwise suffering from hog fatigue after being transported by road or rail systems.

Hogs are likely to suffer travel/transport fatigue, and they customarily will recover mobility after they rest, feed and drink water in the holding facilities at the inspected establishment, NMA pointed out.

All livestock, including swine, that enter the food system under the authority of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, are subjected to ante mortem inspection by USDA veterinarians to determine their fitness to enter the food system, and are required to walk independently.

Barry Carpenter, NMA's chief executive officer, stated in NMA’s news release that the conflicting authorities of federal and state law put companies and their employees who handle livestock in accordance with the federal law at risk of violating the state law, which has severe criminal penalties.

Contrary to what’s being touted in a HSUS press release, the meat industry does not believe California "lacks the authority to protect school children...", Jeremy Russell, NMA’s Director of Communications and Government Relations, tells MEATPOULTRY.com. "Rather....the California law is a duplication of, and therefore preempted by, an already existing, and frankly superior, federal law," he added.

The suit is pending before a federal district court in Fresno, Calif.

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