Farmed Animals and the Law
There’s an estimated 9 billion land animals raised and killed for food every year in the United States. Many of these animals are subjected to near-unimaginable cruelty — much of which is perfectly legal, under current law.
Despite their vast numbers, and severity of abuse they suffer, farmed animals receive only minimal protections by our legal system.
Farmed animals raised for the meat, dairy, and egg industries are among the most abused in the U.S. Investigations and industry whistleblowers have revealed abuses on farms and in slaughterhouses so horrific, most people cannot even bear to witness them.
Abuse takes place outside the law, but much of the cruelty consists of commonplace, standard industry practices, and in most states legally sanctioned.
These common, cruel practices include:
- Animals can have their testicles, tails, horns, beaks, or toes removed without anesthesia.
- In most states, animals are intensively confined in spaces so small they cannot turn around, extend their wings, or lie down comfortably, as in gestation crates, veal crates, and battery cages.
- Hens are systematically starved in order to artificially restart their egg-laying cycles.
- Male chicks are ground up alive, and piglets are killed by slamming their heads on the ground.
- Calves can be taken away from their mothers, mere moments after birth, causing distress for both. Calves raised for veal are so severely confined they cannot turn around or stretch their limbs.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is working to change this. Farmed animals are every bit as capable of feeling pain, and pleasure, as the animals who live inside our homes with us. We are fighting for stronger laws to protect farmed animals, and better enforcement of those laws.
What You Can Do
As long as the law fails to meaningfully protect farmed animals, you can help reduce their suffering by adopting a plant-based diet.
Let lawmakers know that legal protections for all animals are important and that you want stronger legal protections for farmed animals enacted and enforced.
Sign the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Bill of Rights at animalbillofrights.org to let your federal legislators know that all animals deserve basic legal protections that prevent the very worst abuses.
Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in our work to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. We file cutting-edge lawsuits to fight abuses at factory farms, we work with legislators to strengthen laws protecting farmed animals, we assist prosecutors handling cruelty cases, and we promote the growth of animal law in schools, offices, and courtrooms across the nation.
With your help, we can do even more to ensure all animals are protected by the law.
Donate to Protect Animals
Help animals win the legal protections they so desperately need and deserve, and ensure they have an advocate in courtrooms and legislatures across the country.
Defending California’s Proposition 12 Against Iowa Industry Group’s Challenge
Iowa Pork Producers Association v. Bonta
Defending California’s Landmark Farmed Animal Protection Law, Proposition 12
NPPC and AFBF v. Ross
Coalition Demands the Oregon Department of Agriculture Hold Mega-Dairies to Stricter Standards Concerning Pollution to Water Resources
Comments to Oregon Department of Agriculture submitted October 2021
Looking for case and legal resources? View ResourcesSee More
EPA to Publish Slaughterhouse Water Pollution Standards Following Lawsuit
EPA to Publish Slaughterhouse Water Pollution Standards Following LawsuitThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intent to publish updated water pollution control standards for slaughterhouses, following a lawsuit filed by a coalition of community and conservation organizations late last year.March 1, 2023 News
Fourth Circuit Enjoins North Carolina Ag-Gag LawThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handed an important win to plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s Ag-Gag law, ruling that undercover investigations and whistleblowing are considered newsgathering activities protected by the First Amendment.February 23, 2023 Press Release
Transparency in Depopulation Act Introduced in the U.S House to Prohibit Funding Egregious Method of Mass Killing Farmed AnimalsBill bans federal funding for ventilation shutdown, which causes heatstroke and suffocationDecember 14, 2022 Press Release