Court call on downer livestock disappoints N.M.A.

by Meat&Poultry staff
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OAKLAND, CA. – On March 31, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit released its opinion in the appeal of the preliminary injunction against section 599f of California law (case of N.M.A. v. Brown). Although the court determined N.M.A. was likely to succeed in at least part of its claims against the California law, which bans downer livestock of all species from slaughter, the court also said that N.M.A. isn’t likely to succeed on its preemption claims against other provisions of Section 599f.

The injunction was vacated and the entire matter was remanded to the lower court for further proceedings, which may include additional requests for injunctive relief, according to N.M.A.

An N.M.A. press release said the association is disappointed at the decision by the Ninth Circuit. N.M.A. pointed out the court has, for the first time, characterized nonambulatory swine as a “kind of animal” and therefore not subject to U.S.D.A. inspection regulations at a U.S.D.A.-inspected slaughter facility if a state requires immediate euthanasia. And the decision fails to address the huge distinction between animals – in this case, swine in particular – that are fatigued by travel and are therefore at rest, from animals that are physically unable to stand up and move.

“N.M.A. will discuss options with its associates and legal counsel,” said Barry Carpenter, N.M.A. chief executive officer. “This California law fails to distinguish between livestock at rest and livestock that have no independent mobility and that is a critical and potentially illegal failing for a state law that applies to animals on the premises of a U.S.D.A.-inspected plant and under the jurisdiction of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.”

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