Can Foie Gras Farmers Duck a New York Legal Attack?

Marcus Henley and Sergio Saravia don’t live in New York City, but local legislators there may be out of business. If the city’s ban on the sale of foie gras goes into effect on November 25, Messrs. Henley and Saravia feared they would lose the duck farm they had worked for all their lives in suburban Sullivan County. They plan to file a lawsuit to save their business.

“If you read the law and you read the legislative history behind it, it becomes clear that what the City Council is really trying to do is stop a farming practice that they consider objectionable,” said Ed Phillips, farmers’ attorney, said in a phone interview. Making foie gras requires a forced-feeding process, which causes the liver to expand similar to what wild ducks experience before migration but on a larger scale. Messrs. Henley and Saravia feed the birds a liquid food ascending through a rubber tube 6 inches long by about half an inch wide. The process is legal, and they claim it is humane and the birds are not adversely affected. Can Foie Gras Farmers Duck a New York Legal Attack?

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