Farmed Animal Welfare & The Law: USA

Access high-quality, free, Animal Law Education (ALE) resources for tertiary educators.

cows in an industrial farm

In the US, industrial animal agriculture represents the predominant form of farmed animal production, accounting for approximately 99% of terrestrial animals raised for food. This page provides information and useful resources for students seeking to understand the relationship between the law and intensive animal farming in the US.

Animal Law Education (ALE) resources

The expert lecture below was created for the Animal Law Education program to help students understand how factory farming in the United States jeopardises public health, the environment, and animal welfare. The lecture delivered by Dr Rajesh K. Reddy from the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School discusses the myriad ways the country’s legal framework fails to protect farmed animals, and explores the implications for both the planet and humankind.

 

Download a referenced summary of the video presentation here.

Download a copy of the PowerPoint slides used in the presentation here.

General resources

The materials below expand on the topics addressed in the video:

  • The history of factory farming in the US; ​
  • Farmed animal transport; ​
  • Farmed animal slaughter; ​
  • Ag-gag laws; ​
  • US state-based ballot initiatives;
  • Factory farming and false advertising; ​
  • Factory farming and the environment; ​
  • Factory farming and human diseases.

The History of Factory Farming in the US

Books

Journal Articles/Research Articles/Reports

Farmed Animal Transport

Journal Articles/Research Articles/Reports

Legislation

  • Transportation of Animals, 49 USC § 80502. This United States Code, dubbed the ‘Twenty-Eight Hour Law’, provides that animals must not be confined in a vehicle or vessel for more than 28 consecutive hours without being unloaded for feeding, water and rest.

Internet Materials

Farmed Animal Slaughter

Journal Articles/Research Articles/Reports

Legislation

Internet Materials

Ag-Gag Laws

Journal Articles/Research Articles/Reports

Case Law

Internet Materials

US State-Based Ballot Initiatives

Journal Articles/Research Articles/Reports

Internet Materials

Factory Farming & False Advertising

Journal Articles/Research Articles/Reports

Case Law

  • Animal Legal Defense Fund v. FDA, 13-17131 US (9th Cir. 2016). In this case, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the United States Food and Drug Administration for redacting certain commercially-sensitive information concerning egg-production farms in Texas. It was held that the Food and Drug Administration properly withheld information under the relevant Freedom of Information Act exemption, on the basis that the information was likely to cause substantial competitive harm.
  • Compassion Over Killing v.S. Food & Drug Admin., 15-15107 (9th Cir. 2017). This case concerned the legality of government decisions to deny Compassion Over Killing’s rulemaking petitions, which requested that ‘each agency promulgate regulations that would require all egg cartons to identify the conditions in which the egg-laying hens were kept during production’.

Internet Materials

Factory Farming & The Environment

Books

  • Kirby, David, Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment (St Martin’s Press, 1st ed, 2010). This book navigates the experiences of three families and communities whose lives are changed by large, neighbouring animal farms which use CAFOs. In particular, it traces the impacts of factory farming on air, land, water and food contamination.

Journal Articles/Research Articles/Reports

 Internet materials

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency, ‘Agricultural Animal Production’ (Web Page). This web page outlines environmental regulations relating to the production of livestock and poultry.

Factory Farming & Human Diseases

Journal Articles/Research Articles/Reports

Internet Materials

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘Zoonotic Diseases’ (Web Page, 2021). This web page provides information on the spread of infectious diseases from humans to animals. It explains that ‘scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals’.

Last updated October 2021.

Acknowledgements:

Thank you to the Voiceless Legal Volunteer Team (2020) for their significant research and writing assistance: Francesca Nyilas, Annice Savill, Filomena Rosella, Morgan Stonebridge, Masika Morris, Chloe Jung, Aashritha Kumar, Stephanie D’Amelio, Jacqui Maehrlein and Billie Shone.

 

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