Are Factory Farmers Really That Cruel?

Posted by Carter Dillard, ALDF's Director of Litigation on October 24, 2011

Listen to factory farmers defend themselves and you would think they see the animals they raise and kill as their beloved family pets. They will talk about humane handling standards, responsible husbandry, and even how much they love the animals they are fattening and killing. But if you want to know how factory farmers really see animals you need to look at their actions and not their words. Right now the National Meat Association, a mouthpiece for factory farmers across the country, is asking the Supreme Court to strike down a California law that requires exactly the sort of basic humane treatment for farmed animals that factory farmers claim to want. The law bans the sale, transport, or purchase of sick and disabled “downer” animals who are so weak they are unable to walk. The law was passed in the wake of investigations by the Humane Society of the United States documenting downed animals being dragged, shocked, bulldozed, rammed, and hosed to force them through the slaughter process.

The National Meat Association – "animal lovers" that they are – want the law struck down.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has intervened in the case, NMA v. Harris, now before the Supreme Court, to stand alongside California and defend its law. At issue is whether federal law, which favors the factory farmers, trumps or “preempts” California’s law. One can wonder why the Obama administration is so beholden to the factory farm lobby that it is willing to get behind the abuse of sick and downed animals. Regardless, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is opposing the National Meat Association before the Court, and arguing that the state law should be upheld. The Court will soon hear arguments in the case, which could have a major impact on the suffering of millions of animals and on animal law more generally.

A law that bans the sale, transport, or purchase of sick and disabled “downer” animals — living, feeling beings — who are so weak they are unable to walk, is the bare minimum we can do to be humane. Factory farmers oppose it, and they are willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court to protect their profits. Think factory farmers love animals? Then why are they fighting to force even sick and disabled animals – animals too weak even to stand – to slaughter? The obvious truth is that they love the money these animals represent, and it is time they simply admitted as much.

17 thoughts on “Are Factory Farmers Really That Cruel?

  1. Jean says:

    I’m not even sure why they are bothering to go to court on this matter because the abuse of downer animals continues all the time anyway. Why would a court even consider reducing the current laws, surely it should be looking to improve the conditions of these poor unfortunate animals. I personally think that in order to get a job at one of these farms/slaughter houses you need to be a very violent and sick individual who enjoys abusing animals AND getting paid to do so. They must feel all their Christmases have come at once.

  2. Did the Supreme Court grant cert.?

  3. Elizabeth, yes they did. For more info, please email us at

  4. sherry says:


  5. ellen says:

    How can we force the Government and the Obama administration to change the current laws regarding factory farming? Whether it’s cows, pigs or chickens, it’s all animal abuse and it shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Every day, day after day…it’s sickening.

  6. This is frightening! I feel so disconnected. Please let me know what I can do.

  7. ld says:

    When the animals are safe, we’ll all be safe.

  8. Elizabeth German says:

    What can we do, where do we sign something to support this ban?!

  9. Sharon W says:

    I lived on a dairy farm with my grandparents, and guess what….. every dairy cow we owned had it’s OWN NAME… AND when called to, they came to the barn morning and evening to give us their measure…meaning giving their milk. That my friends is a gift from our cows to us and they gave freely, with no fuss. Sharon

  10. ellen says:


  11. Cynthia says:

    Don’t support the industry by making conscious choices about your food. By purchasing these items, you are unwittingly supporting animal cruelty. Consider eating less dairy and animal flesh. I am a vegan and it was the easiest, most joyful thing I’ve ever done. I continue to fight for those who cannot speak or defend themselves.

  12. Michelle Storace says:

    This is all so SICK and the lies that are told just never stop.STOP EATING MEAT.

  13. Doris Muller says:

    This is what the Occupy movement is about. The greed of corporate America wanting it all: to dictate our diets, have the right to legally torture animals, create unhealthy animal-laden products that legally kill consumers in slow motion, the right to foul the air and waters, and the right to commodify animals without restraints. Thank you government for your complicity in this horror masquerading as life-sustaining health foods–disgusting!!!

  14. Deborah Mitchell says:

    I am completely disgusted by how these animals are treated to begin with even before they are slaughtered (not very humanely to begin with). But, to take an animal that is obviously too sick or weak to stand (“downed”) and using whatever painful means necessary to transport and sell this animal to be slaughtered is vile and repulsive. It’s all about the profit with no consideration whatsoever for these sentient beings who have never known one moment of compassion. Thank you ALDF for stepping in to help the voiceless animals of factory farming.



  16. Janice Zacherl says:

    One thing the factory owners understand is profit.

    Stop buying food that comes from factory farms.

    There are many family farmers who would be helped if we start buying dairy, eggs, poultry, beef and pork from local family farmers.

  17. Beata says:

    So far I thought Obama is a cool guy. Well, what can you expect from a black ….., it’s sad!!!
    I have another question:if in my neighbourhood there is an horse, he stands in the empty field(just dry sticks of straw covered by snow), he doesn’t have other food, he doesn’t have any shelter ot roof or wall to hide, NOTHING, and I decided to buy for him a hey, so I did, and the owner was mad at me saying that I should ask for permission to feed the horse. He feels comfortable to keep hungry starving cold animal, and HE is the one who is not scared of being seud for animal crulety. I wanted to buy the horse also a some kind of cover for his body, but I do not know now, will he make me more trouble? Where should I go , whom to ask for help wnd neglected animal’s rights? The police in this small town keeps always the farner’s side. I feel lost. Here is no anti-cruelty organization, and the police officer told me that in Montana state there is no such thing like animal’s rights!!! Is it possible?
    Other thing is: kids are hunting gophers in front of my windows. Here, in my house, there are many children.What rigts do I have to stop that (hunting is really cruel, with arrows, killing slowly, beating to death, pricking their body through, killing new born littel animals, all done by teenagers not attended by parents, few meters from my private hime, and I CAN DO NOTHING, as police protect the kids who are doing so. Are there any limits of HOW FAR FROM HOME THEY CAN HUNT, KILL, MAKE A MEDIEVAL MASSACRE inj front of quiet people who do not accept it, and do not want to expose their kids for such primitive cruelty ??? Please, help !

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