Pending Federal Actions
Bill Introduced to Allow Non-Animal Drug Tests
H.R. 8736 proposes to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to allow the sponsor of a drug to use a non-animal test as an alternative to an animal test for the purposes of demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of a drug if such approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.
House Passes Big Cat Public Safety Act
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act, a bill that would ban private ownership of big cats like lions and tigers.
Bill Would Prohibit Interstate Shipment of Steel-Jaw Leghold and Conibear Traps
H.R. 8828, the Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act, proposes a ban on the interstate shipment of steel-jaw leghold and Conibear traps in order to protect wildlife, companion animals, and people.
Passed State Actions
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.
Colorado Bans Cages for Egg-Laying Hens
Governor Jared Polis signed HB20-1343 into law, making Colorado the sixth state to ban confinement for egg-laying hens, including the sale of eggs produced by hens kept in confinement. The measure goes into effect on January 1, 2023.
Georgia Governor Signs Bill Restricting Labeling of Alternative Proteins
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that makes it unlawful to label any cultured meat product “as meat or any product from an animal” without distinct identification as “lab-grown,” “lab-created,” or “grown in a lab.” The law also requires similar labeling for plant-based products.
Case Law Updates
Federal Case Law Updates
Kansas Ag-Gag Law Found Unconstitutional
The United States District Court for the District of Kansas ruled that the state’s ag-gag law violated the First Amendment by banning undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses. The law was the oldest of its kind in the country, dating to 1990. This is the fifth ag-gag law to be struck down in the country.
Miyoko’s Sues California Department of Food and Agriculture Over First Amendment Violation
Plant-based dairy company Miyoko’s Kitchen Inc. has filed suit against the California Department of Food and Agriculture, alleging violations of the company’s First Amendment rights when the agency told the company to stop calling its products “butter” and claiming the products are “cruelty and animal free.”
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.
USDA Settles 2017 Blackout Lawsuits
Two cases stemming from 2017 when the United States Department of Agriculture removed Animal Welfare Act enforcement records from its website—an incident referred to as the USDA Blackout—were settled. The settlement includes the agency’s commitment that it has restored and will continue to provide public access to the records at issue.
Miyoko’s Wins Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Letter
Upton’s and PBFA Challenge Oklahoma Labeling Law
Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association filed suit against the state of Oklahoma, bringing a First Amendment challenge to the state’s law that requires disclaimers on plant-based products that use a term normally associated with conventional meat.
GFI and ALDF Challenge Louisiana Labeling Law
The Good Food Institute and the Animal Legal Defense Fund have filed suit under the First Amendment challenging a Louisiana law that imposes fines for alternative protein products labels with terms usually associated with meat, such as “burger” or “sausage.”
Ninth Circuit Upholds California Prop 12
A three judge Ninth Circuit panel has upheld California’s Proposition 12, which requires meat producers who wish to sell their products in California to abide by the state’s standards of production.
Fourth Circuit Affirms Smithfield Nuisance Liability
Wildlife in Need’s Tim Stark Has AWA License Revoked
The Department of Agriculture has revoked notorious roadside zoo Wildlife in Need’s Animal Welfare Act license, after finding the company’s owner, Tim Stark, willfully violated the law “well over 120” times. The agency has also fined the facility $300,000 and Stark $40,000.
EPA Suspends Enforcement of Environmental Laws in Response to Coronavirus
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a temporary policy without any set end date that suspends the agency’s enforcement of environmental law during the coronavirus outbreak.
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%.
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.
EPA to End Suspension of Reporting Requirements
The Environmental Protection Agency announced it will end its controversial policy of suspending reporting requirements for certain entities during the coronavirus outbreak.
National Academies Committee Assesses Veterans Affairs’ Use of Dogs in Biomedical Research
A national advisory panel concluded that most research involving dogs conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs is unnecessary. The committee’s report also makes several recommendations for the VA to promote the development of alternatives to using animals in research and for improving the care and welfare of those that are.
CEQ Issues Final NEPA Overhaul Rule
The Council on Environmental Quality issued a final rule updating its regulations instructing federal agencies on how to implement the National Environmental Protection Act. The rule limits what “effects” must be considered under the Act and sets a two-year time limit to complete environmental impact statements and a one-year time limit to complete environmental assessments. The rule is set to take effect on September 14, 2020.
FWS Opens National Wildlife Refuges to Hunting and Fishing
The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule opening eight National Wildlife Refuges for the first time and re-opening or expanding 89 other National Wildlife Refuges to hunting and sport fishing. The rule is effective immediately.
APHIS Proposes Changes to AWA Information Requirements
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposed a rule altering information requirements under the Animal Welfare Act. The rule would remove the requirement that research facilities update their registration information every three years, remove the requirement of continual review of research animal use activities, remove the requirement that facilities request an inactive status, and remove the requirement that the Institutional Official or Chief Executive Officer sign the annual report. The agency is accepting comments on the proposed rule until November 16, 2020.
FDA Seeks Input on Cultured Seafood Products
The Food and Drug Administration is seeking input on the labeling of food containing cultured seafood cells. The agency is accepting comments until March 8, 2021.
FDA Approves Use of Genetically Modified Pigs for Food Use
The Food and Drug Administration has approved an intentional genomic alteration in domesticated pigs to be used for human consumption.
British Tribunal Rules Veganism is a Philosophical Belief Protected by Law
A landmark legal ruling in a case brought by an ethical vegan regarding his dismissal from the League Against Cruel Sports in London has found that ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” that is protected by the Equality Act of 2010.
France Will Ban Live Shredding of Chicks in Egg Industry
French agriculture minister Didier Guillaume announced that France will ban the now-controversial practice of shredding male chicks alive by 2021.
Singapore Approves Cultured Meat for Sale
Singapore has approved for sale a chicken product made from cell cultures, the first such approval in the world.
New Handbook of Animal Ethics Released
The first edition of the Routledge Handbook of Animal Ethics has been published and addresses a wide range of topics including animal intelligence and emotions, agriculture and hunting, research and engineering, companion animals, wildlife management, and activism.