Demanding the USDA Regulate the Mass Disposal of Farmed Animals During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Petition to the USDA submitted in June 2020
The Animal Legal Defense Fund joined a coalition petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ban the mass burial and on-site incineration of animals on factory farms during the COVID-19 pandemic
Pushing USDA to Regulate Mass Killing
In response to slaughterhouses reducing production during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, factory farms across the United States are killing and discarding the bodies of millions of farmed animals with reckless disregard for their welfare or the environment.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund joined a coalition of environmental justice and public health groups in filing a legal petition calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ban the dangerous on-site incineration and mass burial of these animals. The petition also calls for the creation of a public, online database that tracks federal funding for the disposal of animals, as well as disposal locations, and empowers people living in surrounding communities to protect themselves from the ensuing pollution.
Burning and burying so many animals at once creates significant air and water pollution. The mass burial of animals in unlined pits has been known to leach dangerous pollutants, including nitrates, ammonia, and chloride, as well as disease-causing agents and antibiotics, into the soil and nearby waterways. The impact of water contamination is particularly acute for rural communities that tend to rely on groundwater for their drinking water. Burning animals’ bodies releases air pollution, as well as potentially contaminated ash, and worsens water quality through downstream effects.
The USDA has acknowledged that unlined burial and incineration are among the most dangerous disposal methods for both public health and the environment. It is critical that the USDA immediately institute commonsense regulations to protect at-risk communities and our air and water.
The drug is a beta-agonist — the same class as ractopamine and other drugs known to cause significant health effects in pigs.June 4, 2020 Press Release
Earlier this summer, the driver of a pig transport truck struck and killed longtime animal advocate Regan Russell. The circumstances regarding her death are not fully known to the public, but top to bottom, the animal agriculture industry is rarely held accountable.August 4, 2020 News
Kentucky has amended its law prohibiting veterinarians from reporting suspected animal cruelty. Advocates worked for years to change this law, which had good intentions regarding personal privacy but unintended consequences for animal victims of abuse.July 9, 2020 Animal Law Update
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Food and Drug Administration
Cape Fear River Watch v. Environmental Protection Agency
Public Justice Foundation v. Farm Service Agency