University of Washington: The Social Costs of Factory Farms

On
February 12, 2007, the University of Washington SALDF, along with the
UW Center for Human Rights and Justice and the Latin@ Law Student
Association hosted a forum on the social costs of factory farms. The
event was made possible by grants from the Animal Legal Defense Fund
and UW’s Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and refreshments
were catered by a favorite local vegan restaurant, Araya’s Vegetarian
Place.

Carter Dillard, Esq., of The Humane Society of the United States
provided a comprehensive review of the animal welfare and environmental
problems of factory farms, as well as an overview of recent and pending
litigation on behalf of farm animals. Allen Cooper, Esq., of The Equal Justice Center
described the arduousness of the labor in slaughterhouses and
meatpacking facilities. He pointed out that, in addition to the
generally poor working conditions that factory farm workers endure,
agribusiness takes advantage of the immigration status and lack of
literacy of its undocumented workers.

Mr.
Dillard and Mr. Cooper addressed the common ground in the animal rights
and poultry workers’ rights movements. Both movements are concerned
with alleviating suffering and the reversing the marginalization of
populations based on arbitrary classifications. And measures that
benefit animals, such as guaranteeing humane slaughter, tend to benefit
workers as well.

The forum was part of the group’s ongoing
attempts to forge alliances with other social justice-oriented student
groups. Taking a page from the radical labor movement’s battle cry, “an
injury to one is an injury to all,” UW SALDF has been seeking
opportunities both to spread its message about animal cruelty to others
and to learn about the struggles that other groups are facing. To that
end, SALDF has presented a seminar on the relationship between domestic
violence and animal cruelty, cosponsored a talk on the Green Scare with
UW’s National Lawyers Guild chapter, and screened the documentary
McLibel with the Center for Human Rights and Justice and GreenLaw.

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