Berkeley Law Panel Discussion 3/6/12

On March 6th, I joined animal lawyer Bruce Wagman for a panel discussion on factory farming. Co-hosted by the Student Animal Legal Defense F...On March 6th, I joined animal lawyer Bruce Wagman for a panel discussion on factory farming. Co-hosted by the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Students for Economic and Environmental Justice, we were part of the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment's lunchtime speaker series. There were about 30 law students, UC Berkeley undergrads, and community members in attendance. I began by providing an overview of factory farming, the practices employed by each industry, and the worker and environmental impacts. Bruce Wagman, animal lawyer and professor at Berkeley, Stanford, and Hastings, spoke about the legal framework currently supporting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). He addressed the recent Supreme Court ruling which struck down California's law that "downer" animals too sick to stand must be euthanized immediately upon arrival at the slaughterhouse. Ruling in favor of the National Meat Association, the Supreme Court held that Federal food standards preempt state laws, and therefore when downer animals arrive at the slaughterhouse they can be held for 24 hours, and if they stand at any point during that time they can be slaughtered for human consumption. He also touched upon the recent spate of "ag-gag" laws (if you're unfamiliar with them, check out this article in The Atlantic), as well as Common Farming Exemptions, which exempt common farming practices from state animal welfare laws, essentially allowing the industry to define what counts as cruelty. Between CFFF and Professor Wagman, it was a powerful and very informative hour. Many thanks to SALDF, SEEJ, and CLEE.

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