March 10, 2022

Speaking Up for Farmed Animals During Animal Law Week

During Animal Law Week, members of the Lewis & Clark Law School Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter raise awareness for farmed animals with “Meat Out”. We’re proud to support our students by sharing why we’re all speaking up for farmed animals and celebrating how we center farmed animal advocacy in our work throughout the year.

During Animal Law Week, members of the Lewis & Clark Law School Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter (LC ALDF) raise awareness for farmed animals with “Meat Out”. During the event—held annually on the Thursday of Animal Law Week—students celebrate plant-based food and share how dietary and other lifestyle choices support their legal advocacy for farmed animals. At the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS), we’re proud to support our students by sharing why we’re all speaking up for farmed animals and celebrating how we center farmed animal advocacy in our work at CALS throughout the year.

Why Farmed Animals? 

Anyone who’s been in the grocery store has seen it: the romanticized images of farmed animals’ living conditions. These images—shown on food packaging and in advertising— are bountiful with scenes of idyllic pastures, happy animals, sunlight, and fresh air and water.

This romanticized notion of life for farmed animals is far from the reality for 99 percent of farmed land animals in the United States, as well as for farmed animals in other countries where industrial animal agriculture is increasingly prevalent. Farmed animals raised in large industrial facilities—called concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs—are subjected to intensive confinement, crowding, and they are deprived of access to the outside. In addition to restriction of their movement, farmed animals are routinely prevented from engaging in natural behaviors:

  • Pigs are often confined to gestation or farrowing crates, unable to root around in hay or walk, or even turn around;
  • Calves are taken from their mothers within days (or hours) of birth in the dairy industry, with male calves then confined for the duration of their short lives until they become veal;
  • Chickens are packed by the tens of thousands into sheds, too big from overbreeding to walk, with male chicks killed almost immediately after birth (more than 300 million, annually, in the U.S. alone) and turkeys suffer from similar crowded conditions and breeding;
  • So many aquatic animals are slaughtered for human consumption annually that they aren’t even tracked as individuals, but rather, they are weighed in tons.

The conditions in which farmed animals live in industrial animal agriculture is often a surprise to consumers, because the industry has done a remarkable job at concealing the reality of their operations from public view. A bevy of laws, like “Ag Gag” laws, are designed to try to keep these conditions from being publicized. Also surprising to consumers is the fact that the law, as it currently stands, is inadequate to protect farmed animals. The federal Animal Welfare Act does not apply to animals raised for food or fiber. There is no federal law offering protections to farmed animals while they are being raised. At the state level, there are generally no standards that govern the quality of life for farmed animals. While animal cruelty laws can sometimes provide protections, anti-cruelty laws commonly attempt to carve-out “accepted husbandry practices” or even sometimes carve out farmed animals entirely. The law has a long way to go to catch up with the way farmed animals are treated in the industrial animal agriculture industry.

The treatment of the animals is one of a host of concerns about the impacts of industrial animal agriculture, which also include environmental harm, contribution to climate change, environmental injustice (as these facilities are commonly built in low income and communities of color), overuse of antibiotics, not to mention the impacts upon workers in the industry.

Inspired Student Advocates

Many of our students are devoted to farmed animal advocacy. Some of these devoted students are currently in our Animal Law Litigation Clinic this semester, working with Shared Earth Foundation Visiting Professor, Russ Mead. The ALLC—the world’s only clinic devoted to farmed animal protection—trains these students by providing the opportunity to work on cases and projects designed to protect farmed animals. Why is protecting farmed animals important?

  • Not only has the number of factory-farmed animals increased over time, but with the recent federal deregulation of slaughterhouse line speeds and increasing subsidies of the industry, the suffering that they experience has never been worse. Yet, I would still argue that this is an exciting time for those fighting the factory farming industry. General public opinion as well as academic and professional scholarship have begun pivoting in recent years to take these issues seriously, and it’s an important moment in history to seize.” Josie Moberg (3L)
  • “Advocating for farmed animals is an issue that has a sense of urgency about it because the process is getting worse to increase profits and output. It is unfair to allow this type of treatment to continue and un-justice to turn a blind eye to the torture farmed animals are facing.” Cindy Lundt (3L)

Training the Next Generation

At CALS, students who are inspired to leverage their law degree to help farmed animals have a robust array of options to achieve their goals and to improve the world for farmed animals, the environment, and humans. For example, students in our Industrial Animal Agriculture Law course taught by Professor of Practice Joyce Tischler examine the conditions in which farmed animals are raised, transported, and slaughtered, the policies that brought this system into existence and encourage it to expand globally, statutory and case law relevant to the farmed animal production system and the cultural values and economic pressures that underlie different legal systems’ treatment of farmed animals. Students learn about the links between industrial animal agriculture, climate change, food safety, public health, animal welfare, the environment, and environmental justice, such as the impact of animal agriculture on nearby, marginalized communities.

Professor Tischler says, “Industrial animal agriculture causes intense suffering and death to 70 billion individual land animals every year on a worldwide basis. I can’t imagine anything more important than speaking out for those individuals and working to end that suffering.” And, she is literally writing the book—co-authoring the first ever casebook on Industrial Animal Agriculture Law. This textbook will be instrumental in advancing protections for farmed animals, by providing a framework for other law schools to offer a course on industrial animal agriculture law in the future.

Our Animal Law Trial Advocacy course is yet another opportunity for students to put their passion for farmed animal protection into practice. In this course, Professor Mead gives students the opportunity to learn and practice trial skills, including a mock trial based on a real-world animal law trial in which property owners sue a concentrated animal feeding operation hog farm under a nuisance theory.

These are just a few of the many opportunities that we provide to students interested in advocating for farmed animals, equipping them to make a difference through law and advocacy.

How Can You Help?

If you’re inspired to learn what you can do to help farmed animals, consider the following:

  • Consider how you may contribute to the suffering of farmed animals in your daily choices, through diet, clothing, lifestyle, and more. Ask how you can have a softer footprint and, through your individual choices, reduce the suffering of farmed animals.
  • Donate to CALS to support our farmed animal protection work, as we work to train future leaders in farmed animal protection and change the legal landscape for billions of farmed animals.
  • Support legislation and other advancements to improve farmed animal protection. Whether at the federal, state, or local level, the law has a long way to go to catch up with how society feels that farmed animals should be treated, with kindness and compassion.

The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) was founded in 2008 with a mission to educate the next generation of animal law attorneys and advance animal protection through the law. With vision and bold risk-taking, CALS has since developed into a world-renowned animal law epicenter, with the most comprehensive animal law curriculum offered anywhere. In addition, CALS is the only program that offers an advanced legal degree in animal law, now offered both in-person and online, and three specialty animal law clinics. CALS is a nonprofit organization and is only able to provide these educational opportunities through donations and grants.