California Law Bans Production, Sale of Foie Gras

Force Feeding
Photo By: Peta
Worker force feeding a duck

SB 1520, a bill to ban the force feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras, passed the California Legislature and, on September 29, 2004, was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the law does not become effective until July 2012, it is viewed by the majority of national animal advocacy groups* as a major victory for farmed animals and farmed animal legislation in that it prohibits both a farmed animal abuse and the sale of the product of that abuse – foie gras or “fatty liver” – throughout the state.

Opposition to the amended SB 1520 drew attention to the fact that the law has an 8 year phase-out period during which time Sonoma Foie Gras, the only producer of foie gras in California, is immunized from civil or criminal lawsuits directed against force feeding (though other acts of cruelty may charged and prosecuted during that time). In response it has been pointed out that all legislation banning cruel farmed animal practices includes a phase-out period; for example, the European ban on battery cages for hens, passed in 1999, includes a phase-out period until 2012, and the Florida sow gestation crate ban that voters passed in 2002 doesn’t go into effect until 2008.

And yes, the foie gras industry could use the phase-out period to try to repeal the law, but this means that animal advocates must invest energetically in public education during the same time period to make sure this doesn’t happen. Footage of ducks having metal pipes jammed down their throats three times a day, as shown in the video, Delicacy of Despair (available from UPC), is so sickening that it convinced California lawmakers to ban the practice. Instead of fretting about what “they” will do during the next 8 years, our job is to focus on what WE are going to do to make sure that the law goes into effect in 2012, and that other states follow suit.

*The following groups explicitly endorsed SB 1520: Animal Protection and Rescue League, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Farm Sanctuary, Viva!USA, United Poultry Concerns, Los Angles Lawyers for Animals, HSUS, ASPCA, The Fund for Animals, PETA, In Defense of Animals, American Anti-Vivisection Society, Last Chance for Animals, Animal Protection Institute, Animal Legislative Action Network, California Lobby for Animal Welfare, United Animal Nations, Animal Place, The Paw Project, Animal General Hospital,, Compassion Over Killing, Vegan Outreach, and Vegan Action.

What Can I Do?
  • Use every opportunity you can to write letters to the editor and to participate in radio call-in shows.
  • Order the video Delicacy of Despair and show it at your local library and on public access television. Send copies to any media representatives who express interest. Available from UPC. $10 includes shipping.