Dec. 15, 2006 – A coalition of environmentalist and animal-rights groups went to court this week, accusing a New Jersey agency of illegally authorizing inhumane treatment of farm animals.
The lawsuit, filed in 2005 against the state Department of Agriculture, seeks a judicial declaration that many common factory farming practices used to raise animals for meat, eggs and milk are inhumane under state law. The New Jersey appellate court heard oral arguments in the case Wednesday.
The plaintiffs include Farm Sanctuary, the US Humane Society, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Center for Food Safety, as well as several others.
They argued that the Department of Agriculture (NJDA) violated a 1996 legislative order to establish standards for the "humane raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing and sale of domestic livestock."
Rather, the coalition alleges, the NJDA sanctioned factory-farming practices that "cause severe hunger, pain, stress [and] disease."
The NJDA regulations allow numerous routine farming practices that the coalition says violate the directive, including confinement of calves raised for veal to prevent muscle development, mutilations such as de-beaking chickens, and holding cattle in vehicles for up to 28 consecutive hours without food or water.
The NJDA confirmed for The NewStandard that it does not deem such practices to be inhumane. The Department did say it would "continue to study evolving scientific literature and continue to amend the welfare standards to reflect any new information."