Legally Brief

Legally Brief: 5 Ways the Animal Legal Defense Fund Is Challenging Factory Farming of Animals

Factory farms, where animals are raised for production of meat, eggs, and dairy, are the cause of unimaginable suffering for billions of animals in the U.S. each year. They are also a major contributor to climate change and air and water pollution. Yet factory farms are routinely exempted from regulations for animal care and environmental protection.

Here are 5 ways the Animal Legal Defense Fund is challenging factory farming’s free ride:

  1. Ag-Gag – Ag-Gag laws criminalize the documentation of animal abuse on factory farms. They don’t try to stop animal abuse—they try to stop the reporting of animal abuse, which would hurt the industry’s bottom line. ALDF and a broad coalition of public interest groups have filed landmark constitutional challenges to these statutes that gag free speech in Utah and Idaho.
  2. Antibiotics – Because of the intensive confinement and filthy conditions on factory farms, the industry recklessly doses animals with antibiotics before they get sick. But this “sub-therapeutic” dosing of animals is linked with the proliferation of “superbugs”—antibiotic resistant bacteria that pose one of the greatest health threats of the 21st century. Currently factory farms aren’t even required to label meat products to let consumers know they’re consuming potential superbugs—that’s why ALDF has petitioned the USDA to require mandatory labeling.
  3. Greenhouse gases – Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to climate change—that’s an incontrovertible fact established by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations. Yet, unlike the energy and transportation industries, factory farms aren’t required to limit greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why ALDF filed a first-of-its-kind petition calling on the California Air Resources Board to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from factory farms.
  4. Ractopamine – Despite being banned or restricted by the European Union, Russia, China, and 100 other nations, ractopamine is permitted in U.S. animal feed. Use of the drug, which speeds animal growth to slaughter weight, is cruel to animals and dangerous to humans. ALDF and the Center for Food Safety have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to reduce ractopamine use.
  5. Water – As California instigates emergency water restrictions for individuals during its historic drought crisis, factory farms, by far the largest users of water, face no new restrictions. Even though a tiny fraction of consumptive water is used by urban water users, we were asked to cut our water use by 25%. Factory farms that drain nearly half of California’s consumptive water use have not been compelled to restrict their water use one iota. ALDF will petition the State Water Resources Control Board to ensure that they do.

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