Animal-rights organizations are challenging the Trump administration’s new rule increasing the number of pigs a slaughterhouse can kill each hour, asking a federal judge in Rochester to declare it invalid.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, seven groups, including the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, take issue with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Swine Slaughter Inspection Rule, which was approved in September.
The rule was meant to modernize the country’s regulations for inspecting hog slaughter, which hadn’t been updated broadly in more than 50 years.
But animal-rights groups, food-safety organizations and labor unions have raised concern about provisions that will allow slaughterhouses to opt in to a system that will reduce the number of USDA inspectors on site, instead tasking company employees with some oversight.
The rule also removes a cap on the number of pigs that can be slaughtered in an hour, which had been set at 1,106 to allow inspectors time to do their work.
Rule would harm animal welfare, suit claims
A group of animal-rights groups has filed suit against the USDA, claiming its new swine slaughter inspection rules are illegal. (Photo: Casey Christie/The Bakersfield Californian via AP)
The lawsuit argues the new rule “imperils animal welfare and human health,” arguing that it violates federal law meant to ensure more humane methods of slaughter.
The USDA rule “will markedly reduce already-inadequate federal oversight at pig slaughterhouses while significantly increasing the number of animals slaughtered and the speed at which they are slaughtered,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit was filed in Rochester federal court, where it will be heard by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Wolford.
The USDA had been weighing changes to swine slaughter inspection rules for years, launching a pilot program in 1997 that allowed five slaughterhouses a waiver from certain regulations.
In February 2018, the USDA proposed a new rule to govern the inspection process before finalizing it with some tweaks this past September.
The new rule allows commercial slaughterhouses to decide whether to follow the traditional rules or opt in to the new system, known as the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System.
Under the new system, slaughterhouses would face new testing requirements to ensure they are controlling pathogens throughout the process. It would also remove the speed limit for slaughter lines and require in-house employees to remove animals that are unfit before they get to USDA inspectors.
In September, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the new rule was crafted through a “science-based and data-driven rule making process.”Get the Daily Briefing newsletter in your inbox.
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Second lawsuit filed against swine rule
The Farm Sanctuary is a shelter that houses more than 800 rescued animals on 275 acres in Watkins Glen, Schuyler County.
Along with the Farm Sanctuary, the other groups who filed the lawsuit are Animal Equality, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals Inc. and North Carolina Farmed Animal Save.
The lawsuit was at least the second challenging the USDA’s rule.
In October, the United Food and Commercial Workers union sued the federal agency, claiming the new rule would increase the chances of workers getting hurt.
Read the original article by Jon Campbell at democratandchronicle.com here.