Hochul vs. Adams: Clash Over NYC Foie Gras Ban

20:19 28.08.2023

In a long-standing legal battle between New York City and the state over a ban on foie gras sales, the city has achieved a small victory. An Albany judge recently struck down the state's order to halt enforcement of the ban, stating that state regulators failed to conduct a proper study of the city law before blocking it. Judge Richard Platkin, in his ruling on August 3, stated that the state Department of Agriculture and Markets did not conduct the required "meaningful review" of the city's 2019 bid to ban the sale of foie gras. The state administration, under Governor Kathy Hochul, instead relied on just "two brief quotations drawn from a multi-thousand-page record" to justify blocking the city's ban. Foie gras, a luxurious delicacy made from the fattened livers of force-fed ducks or geese, is a staple in the menus of top French restaurants in the city.

Although foie gras enthusiasts don't need to worry about an immediate end to sales within the city, the court ruling leaves room for a later review of whether the state has the right to block the city ban on the grounds that it unreasonably restricts farming operations in Sullivan County, a major foie-gras-producing area. The court allows the state to reissue its block of the city's ban after a more in-depth review of the legislative history of the city's efforts.

Two upstate foie gras farms, La Belle and Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which have opposed the ban from the beginning, have filed plans to challenge the judge's decision in an Albany appeals court. These farms claim that they would be effectively put out of business and hundreds of workers would lose their jobs if stores in the city are unable to sell their products.

The battle over the ban started in October 2019, when the City Council, under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, approved the measure as part of a comprehensive package of animal rights bills that also aimed to tighten regulations on the horse carriage industry. Animal rights activists argue that the production of foie gras is inhumane, involving force-feeding geese or ducks with a foot-long tube filled with grain and fat multiple times a day.

Governor Kathy Hochul's office declined to comment on the ruling, and the city's Law Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The dispute between Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams continues, with the city seeking to enforce the ban over animal rights concerns, while the state government argues that the city is overreaching by attempting to regulate farms located approximately 100 miles away from the city.

Voters for Animal Rights, a lobbying group that played a crucial role in getting the city ban passed, accuses state officials of intentionally prolonging the legal process to allow existing farms to continue providing foie gras during litigation. They argue that the state cannot strike down laws based on potential indirect effects on farms elsewhere in Upstate New York.

The outcome of this legal battle will have significant implications for the foie gras industry, animal rights activists, and the authority of local governments to regulate agricultural practices.

/ Monday, August 28, 2023, 8:19 PM /

themes:  New York City  New York (state)

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