Pending Federal Actions
Congressperson Calls for NIH Count and Reduce
Representative Roybal-Allard sent a letter to the NIH Director requesting a full public accounting of the animals it uses or plans to use in its internal research program, including those not covered by the AWA. The letter also calls for a five-year plan to reduce this number.
Passed State Actions
California Bans Fur Trapping
California Governor Newsom has signed a bill banning recreational and commercial fur trapping. The law does not apply to rats, mice, voles, moles, and gophers. The law also bans certain kinds of traps, including steel-jawed leghold traps.
Pending State Actions
Mississippi Meat Labeling Regulations May Change
Mississippi, one of a number of states that passed legislation regulating the marketing of food products that did not come from a slaughtered live animal as “meat,” has proposed opening a loophole in its law for plant-based products. The proposed regulation exempts from the prohibition any plant-based product that is clearly identified on its packaging as “meat free,” “vegetarian,” or other qualifiers. This shift makes it even more clear that the real target of Mississippi’s, and other states’, recent actions is cellular agricultural--not plant-based--products.
California Considers Banning the Sale of New Fur Products
A bill sent to California Governor Newsom’s desk would ban the sale of new items made from the fur of undomesticated animals (the ban would not apply to antique items and other agricultural products, like leather and sheepskin).
Pending Municipal Actions
Dairy Farmers Push Back on Proposed Flavored Milk Ban
New York City has considered banning flavored (e.g. chocolate) milk from school lunches. Some members of Congress and farmers whose profit would be hurt by the change encouraged Mayor de Blasio to reconsider because of the nutritional value of milk.
Case Law Updates
Federal Case Law Updates
Sixth Circuit Affirms Denial of Police Officer Who Shot Family Dog’s Assertion of Immunity
Dashuana Richards and Eddie Harris, residents of Michigan, filed suit against a police officer, Matthew Peters, for entering their home without a warrant and shooting and killing their companion animal, Kane. Peters asserted immunity in the District Court, which the lower court denied, and then appealed. The Sixth Circuit has affirmed this denial, stating that there are sufficient genuine disputes of material fact for the case to go to trial for violations of the 4th Amendment and Michigan state law.
D.C. District Court to Reexamine False Claims Act for Laboratory Whistleblower
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court decision granting summary judgment to Howard University in a case brought by a former employee alleging that she was terminated in retaliation for reporting violations of animal care standards to the National Institutes of Health. The case has been remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Circuit Court’s opinion.
EPA Announces Plan to Stop All Mammal Testing by 2035
Secretary Wheeler signed a directive aimed at reducing the agency’s reliance on animal testing, including eliminating all standardized requests and funding for experiments on mammals by 2035 (meaning that any following this date will have to be approved on a case-by-case basis). The directive also committed the agency to “coming as close to possible” to excluding reliance on mammal studies in its approval process after 2035. Annual conferences on New Approach Methods (NAMs) will begin later this year.
FSIS Denies Non-Ambulatory Pigs Petition
FSIS has denied a 2014 petition requesting that the Agency require non-ambulatory pigs be euthanized, rather than slaughtered and used in the food system. The Agency concluded that existing regulations are sufficient to ensure humane handling and prevent diseased animals from being used in the food system.
USDA Finalizes High-Speed Slaughter Rule
The USDA finalized a rule revoking maximum line speeds at slaughterhouses for pigs, calling the move a “modernization” and that the new rule would “improve animal welfare . . . because more FSIS resources will be available to verify the humane handling of animals.” Under the new rule, a maximum line speed may be established on a case-by-case basis as directed by the Inspector-In-Charge at that plant when, in the Inspector’s judgment, “a carcass-by-carcass inspection cannot be adequately performed.”
Fish & Wildlife to Decide on Prairie Chicken Designation by 2021
A federal judge has approved an agreement that requires the Fish and Wildlife Services to decide whether to list the lesser prairie chicken as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act by 2021. The agreement follows a lawsuit by three environmental groups: Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, and WildEarth Guardians.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposes 2020 Shark Fishing Quotas
The proposed rule sets quotas for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries, including some rollover from underfished 2019 quotas. The comment period is open until October 10, 2019.
FDA Announces Public Meeting On “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety”
The FDA will host a public meeting on October 21, 2019 to discuss the use of new and emerging technologies and upcoming innovation in the agricultural and other fields. One question on which the agency is requesting feedback relates to the safety of foods produced through new business models. Written comments will be accepted until November 20, 2019.
NOAA Requests Comments on Sea Turtle Handling and Release Requirements
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service have released a proposed rule that would allow three new and revise existing practices for releasing sea turtles caught in commercial fishing devices. The comment period is open until October 17, 2019.
NOAA Accepting Applications for Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is establishing a marine sanctuary advisory council for a proposed sanctuary in Lake Ontario and is accepting applications for council members who will provide advice and recommendations to the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Applications are due November 1, 2019.
APHIS Proposes Recognizing Romanian Poultry as Safe to Import
The Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service has issued a proposed rule considering designating Romania free of avian flu and Newcastle disease, a move which could allow imports of poultry and poultry products into the United States. The comment period is open until November 15, 2019.
USDA Provides Reimbursement to Dairy Farmers for Milk Lost to Natural Disasters
USDA as finalized a rule setting standards and processes for payment to dairy farmers for milk dumped or lost up to a month prior to a natural disaster that caused such loss.
Oregon Fish Loses ESA Protections
The Fish & Wildlife service has removed the speckled dace, a fish native to Oregon, from the list of threatened and endangered animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. The change is effective October 15, 2019.
FDA Extends Comment Period for New Animal Drug Labeling Questions
FDA is seeking additional comments on a notice originally published in the Federal Register on August 9 related to labeling of new animal drugs used in animals used for food. The request calls for commentary on the minimum length of time that animals are transported to slaughter and spend at slaughter facilities before being killed, milking frequencies of dairy cows, and interpretation of “zero-day withdrawal” labels. The comment period is now open until January 6, 2020.
Proposed Rule: Expanding Orcas’ Habitat
The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed designating six new areas, totaling over 15,000 square miles, as critical habitat for endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. The comment period closes December 18, 2019.
Antibiotic Use in Meat in Low-Income Countries Leading to Higher Rates of Anti-Microbial Resistance
Researchers have concluded that high rates of antibiotic use in animals used for food are leading to growing rates of Anti-Microbial Resistance, with the highest rates in northeastern India, northeastern China, northern Pakistan, Iran, eastern Turkey, the south coast of Brazil, Egypt, the Red River delta in Vietnam, and the areas surrounding Mexico City and Johannesburg.
Salmon Escape Farm
An equipment malfunction allowed around one thousand farmed salmon to escape off the coast of Maine. This may endanger the wild Atlantic salmon population.
Consumer Reports Evaluates Food Labels and Claims
Consumer Reports has issued a guide to commonly used labels and claims on food products made using animals. The guide rates the most common labels from Poor to Excellent and provides an interactive tool for consumers to find what labels to look for based on what conditions matter most to them for what products.
National Advertising Division Finds Insufficient Support for Animal Welfare Claims
The NAD has recommended that Hatfield Quality Meats discontinue use of the phrase “Ethically Raised by Family Farmers Committed to a Higher Standard of Care, Governed by Third Party Animal Welfare Audits” because its “aspirational programs” are insufficient to support its current claim.