Wednesday 24 January 2018

Update: Supreme Court overturns Calif. Law on Euthanizing Downed Livestock (National Meat Association v. Harris (10-224))

Food Court reported in November about the National Meat Association’s case heading to the Supreme Court (click herefor that story). Today the verdict was handed down and it’s a victory of the NMA.

The Associated Press is reportingthat a California law that would require euthanizing downed livestock at federally inspected slaughterhouses to keep the meat out of the nation’s food system was blocked by the Supreme Court. The 9-0 decision on Monday held that since Congress has adopted federal regulations governing slaughterhouses, California is not free to enforce different rules or standards. The justices noted that Congress said states may not adopt slaughterhouse rules that were “in addition to or different from” the federal standards.The 2009 rule by California is blocked from going into effect because it is an “in addition to or different from”  federal law administered by the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Federal Meat Inspection Act allows a federal meat inspector to examine and then determine whether a downed animal is fit to be slaughtered for meat.

Federal law “precludes California’s effort … to impose new rules, beyond any the FSIS has chosen to adopt, on what a slaughterhouse must do with a pig that becomes non-ambulatory during the production process,” said Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the court’s unanimous opinion.About 3 percent of pigs that show up at slaughterhouses are non-ambulatory, the National Meat Association says, but veterinarians normally give the non-walking pigs a few hours to determine whether their problem is disease, or just stress, fatigue, stubbornness or being overheated from the trip to the slaughterhouse. A federal judge agreed and blocked the law, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the hold. The justices overturned that decision.Federal law “regulates slaughterhouses’ handling and treatment of non-ambulatory pigs from the moment of their delivery through the end of the meat production process,” Kagan said. California’s law “endeavors to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same place — except by imposing different requirements. The FMIA expressly pre-empts such a state law.”

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