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Hudson Valley duck farmers, organized as the Catskill Foie Gras Collective, announced today that the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has ruled that NYC’s proposed ban on the sale of foie gras in NYC restaurants and retail stores violates State law. The Department has issued an Order directing that New York City “immediately comply with the provisions of Section 305-a of the Agriculture and Markets Law” and refrain from taking any action “that would restrict [the farmers’] ability to sell their product in the New York City market.”
Agriculture and Markets Law § 305-a prohibits municipalities, like New York City, from enacting laws that unreasonably restrict farming operations in certified agricultural districts. The Hudson Valley duck farms are located within certified agricultural districts. The Department issued its Order after investigating the farmers’ complaint that NYC’s sales ban, which is known as Local Law 202, would unreasonably restrict their operations.
“After reviewing our complaint, the Department of Agriculture has determined the City’s proposed actions do, in fact, violate New York State Law,” said Marcus Henley, a spokesperson for the Catskill Foie Gras Collective. “We are extremely grateful that the Department has taken this action, as hundreds of Sullivan County farm worker jobs were hanging in the balance.”
Local Law 202 would have become effective on November 25, 2022, but in a separate lawsuit, a Manhattan judge issued a preliminary injunction that enjoins the City from enforcing the law pending further proceedings in that suit. Had Local Law 202 gone into effect at that time, the sales ban would have caused millions of dollars in revenue loss to the State, New York City, restaurants, wholesale distributors, retail store owners, and related transportation companies.
“On a broader scale, the order stops local municipalities from establishing a dangerous precedent of dictating to us what farmers can grow and what people can eat,” added Henley. “It’s great news for farmers and fine diners everywhere.”
Proponents for the sales ban, including animal rights groups, mistakenly claim that ducks are treated inhumanely during the foie gras production process. Hudson Valley Foie Gras and La Belle Farms respond that their ducks are well cared for, are allowed to roam freely, and are processed in a government-inspected facility, strictly adhering to animal welfare and federal regulations. Both farms produce foie gras using a special hand-feeding method, like no other farm in the world, so as not to harm the ducks.
“These well-funded groups are reactionary and powerful, often times acting without knowing all the facts,” said Sergio Saravia, President of La Belle Farms. “We welcome politicians and reporters to visit our poultry farms and see, firsthand, the farming practices we have in place.”
New York City has thirty days to challenge the Department’s Order by filing a court proceeding in Albany County. “We hope the City will accept the Order given the Department’s authority and expertise enforcing the Agriculture and Markets Law, but we will continue to fight to protect our farms if the City decides to spend even more taxpayer dollars on taking the matter to court in Albany.”
For more information about foie gras production visit: https://foiegrasfacts.org.