Monday, December 28, 2009

HSUS loses 4-year battle against USDA

Turkey slaughter lawsuit won't fly, judges rule ...
A federal appeals panel says the Humane Society did not have the standing to sue the USDA for asserting that a 1958 congressional act mandating humane slaughter does not extend to poultry.

LA Times: By Victoria Kim November 26, 2009

Ruling on a four-year legal battle over the regulation of poultry slaughter, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week threw out a lawsuit challenging the government's position that a half-century-old congressional act on humane slaughter does not extend to animals of the feathered kind.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco three days before Thanksgiving 2005 by the Humane Society of the United States, contended that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's position leads to shoddy slaughter practices and jeopardizes food safety. It was sparked by a 2005 USDA notice that "there is no specific federal humane handling and slaughter statute for poultry."

The plaintiffs contended that the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 -- which requires that "cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine and other livestock" be rendered insensible to pain before slaughter -- should be read to include poultry.

Attorneys for the USDA accused the plaintiffs of attempting "revisionist history," saying that without taking into account Congress' intent, the phrase "other livestock" could be read to include "fish, ants, guinea pigs, cats or dogs bred for sale, bees."

After hearing oral arguments the week of Thanksgiving 2007, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled in favor of the USDA, saying lawmakers' intent to leave poultry out was clear.

In the decision entered Friday, a three-judge panel decided that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue in the first place. Judge George H. Wu wrote that a legal ruling on the meaning of the act would not have any effect on poultry slaughter practices because it is dependent on "a number of political and legal factors quite independent from this court's determination." Full story ....