yesterday, the california supreme court overturned a law that required euthanizing downed livestock at federally inspected slaughterhouses. this 2009 law was enacted in california after the humane society released undercover footage of workers abusing cows at a slaughterhouse. most of this meat was slated for delivery to school lunches and other federally funded programs.
the supervisor was jailed for animal cruelty, the slaughterhouse was shut down and 143 million pounds of beef were recalled, but there was no way in hell that the factory farms were going to take this lying down. according to the huffington post:
Federal law “precludes California’s effort … to impose new rules, beyond any the FSIS has chosen to adopt, on what a slaughterhouse must do with a pig that becomes non-ambulatory during the production process,” said Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the court’s unanimous opinion.
Under California law, the ban on buying, selling and slaughtering of downer cattle also extended to pigs, sheep and goats.
Pork producers sued to stop the law, saying it interfered with federal laws that require inspections of downed livestock before determining whether they can be used for meat.
The Federal Meat Inspection Act allows a federal meat inspector to examine and then determine whether a downed animal is fit to be slaughtered for meat. It also says states cannot add requirements “in addition to or different than” its requirements.
About 3 percent of pigs that show up at slaughterhouses are non-ambulatory, the National Meat Association says, but veterinarians normally give the non-walking pigs a few hours to determine whether their problem is disease, or just stress, fatigue, stubbornness or being overheated from the trip to the slaughterhouse.
A federal judge agreed and blocked the law, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the hold. The justices overturned that decision.
Federal law “regulates slaughterhouses’ handling and treatment of non-ambulatory pigs from the moment of their delivery through the end of the meat production process,” Kagan said. California’s law “endeavors to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same place – except by imposing different requirements. The FMIA expressly pre-empts such a state law.”
basically, california law could not go above federal law. the humane society has introduced a federal bill hr3704, currently under consideration by the house agriculture committee. you can send a letter to your representatives here.
wayne pacelle, president of the humane society of the united states says:
“This ruling places the matter squarely in the Congress and USDA to take meaningful action to protect animals unable to walk, and prevent the food safety threats that arise from these animals,” Pacelle said. “But it’s a very tall hill to climb because of the power of the meat industry in D.C.”
in her op-ed piece this morning patt morrison shared asking jane goodall what was the single thing that one individual could do to make the biggest impact on the planet and the prospect of human survival, and she said, “stop eating meat.” until the world turns vegetarian, can’t we at least unite to ensure that the animals who give their lives to feed us are allowed to live a life free of cruelty and abuse?