Passed State Actions
Virginia Outlaws Direct Contact with Dangerous Captive Animals
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed into law Senate Bill 1030, which will ban exhibits that allow direct contact between members of the public and dangerous captive animals (defined as any bear, cougar, jaguar, leopard, lion, nonhuman primate, tiger, or any hybrid of such animals). The law will take effect July 1, 2021.
Iowa Establishes Crime of “Food Operation Trespass”
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed into law an act that criminalizes entering or remaining without consent of a person with authority to allow a person to enter or remain on the property of a location where animal products are sold, or where a “food animal” is produced, kept, or slaughtered. The first offense is an aggravated misdemeanor and subsequent offenses are a class D felony.
Case Law Updates
Federal Case Law Updates
HSUS Sues USDA Over Risk of Pandemics
The Humane Society of the United States has filed suit against the United States Department of Agriculture, alleging that the agency’s failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedure Act with regard to its methods of controlling animal-borne diseases puts the American population at risk.
National Pork Producers’ Challenge to Prop 12 Dismissed
A California federal judge has dismissed a suit challenging the state’s ballot initiative banning the sale of meat made from animals born to sows kept in confinement. The court found that the law does not violate the Commerce Clause because “it does not target solely interstate commerce and it regulates in-state and out-of-state conduct equally.”
Lawsuits Challenge Replacement WOTUS Rule
A coalition of states and cities, two different coalitions of environmental groups [1, 2], and a coalition of Native American tribes all have filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the Waters of the United States replacement rule. The rule excludes wetlands that do not have surface water connections to intermittent or perennial streams, streams that only flow during rainfall or snowmelt, and prior converted cropland.
PETA Files Suit Against Tri-State Zoological Park
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has filed suit against Tri-State Zoological Park, alleging that the roadside zoo’s neglect of animals violates federal and state law and constitutes a public nuisance.
North Carolina Ag-Gag Law Declared Unconstitutional
A North Carolina federal judge has ruled that several provisions of North Carolina’s ag-gag law violate the First Amendment. The lawsuit was brought by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Center for Food Safety, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, Government Accountability Project, Farm Forward, and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Office of Inspector General Announces Dramatic Drop in EPA Enforcement
The Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General issued a report that shows the agency’s enforcement actions are down over the last ten years, in some categories by more than 50%.
USDA Issues Additional Regulatory Waivers Amid COVID-19 Crisis
The Food Safety Inspection System has issued at least seven new regulatory waivers this year, allowing slaughterhouses to increase line speeds and self-police, rather than being subject to the review of federal inspectors.
Waters of the United States Rule Finalized
The Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency have issued a final Waters of the United States rule. The rule narrows the scope of the Clean Water Act, excluding many wetlands. The rule becomes effective on June 22, 2020.
APHIS Issues Final AWA Licensing Provisions
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued a final rule detailing changes to the Animal Welfare Act licensing requirements, including automatic termination of a license after three years and requiring that dogs have constant access to potable water. The rule will take effect on November 9, 2020.
Ontario Passes Canada’s First Ag-Gag Law
Ontario has passed Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, which could make it illegal for employee whistleblowers to expose animal abuse and other violations on animal farming operations.
Trump Signs Executive Order Designed to Support Seafood Industry
President Trump has signed an Executive Order that directs the Department of Commerce to create a list of actions that will “reduce burdens on domestic fishing” within six months. The Order also directs agencies to complete all environmental reviews of proposed aquaculture projects within two years.