Government Regulation of Factory Farms
The USDA is the primary federal agency charged with regulating animal food production and slaughter industries. Through sub-agency programs, the USDA oversees food production laws. However, there are no federal laws that set humane care standards for animals in factory farms.
USDA’s Sub-Agency Programs
USDA’S Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
- Promotes United States agriculture
- Regulates genetically engineered organisms
- Administeris the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Animal Care Program (ACP)
- Performs wildlife damage management activities.
- These efforts support the overall mission of USDA, which is to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues.
USDA’s Animal Care Program (ACP)
- Operates under APHIS to enforce the AWA and the Horse Protection Act (HPA). Neither of these two laws protects food production animals.
- USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
- Regulates food safety and slaughter of food production animals.
- Ensures quality of the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products.
- Ensures the labels of meat, poultry, and egg products are truthful and accurate.
- Does not consider well-being of farmed animals.
Federal Agricultural Laws
- Horse Protection Act (HPA) – The HPA prohibits horses subjected to the cruel practice of soaring from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, and auctions. Soaring involves the use of chemicals, inhumane hoof trimmings, and other methods meant to force the horse to raise his or her legs high while performing a “running walk.”
- Humane Slaughter Act (HSA) – The HSA, also known as the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) and the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (HMLSA), is designed to protect food animals just prior to and during their moment of slaughter. Animals slaughtered according to religious rituals and all poultry and all other birds and fish are excluded from the provisions of the act.
- Stunning knives – along with captive-bolt guns and electric baths, stunning knives are also used to stun animals.
- Electric bath – a tub of water with an electric current flowing through it that is designed to stun poultry prior to slaughter. The birds are shackled upside down and placed in the electric bath. While the animals should be rendered unconscious, the bath system is not foolproof; and many birds are fully conscious throughout the remainder of the slaughter process.
- Killing stick – a device used in the slaughtering process to cut the carotid arteries and jugular veins of animals once they have been stunned.
- Captive bolt gun – a device used to render large farmed animals, such as cattle and pigs, unconscious by shooting a metal bolt or rod through the animal’s head and into the brain. Unfortunately, the accuracy rate of captive-bolt stuns is not 100 percent.
- Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) – The FMIA allows, among other provisions, licensed meat inspectors to enforce the HSA.
Help Save Animals on Factory Farms
- Adopt a plant-based diet.
- Write your legislators urging them to enact laws that improve the lives of animals in factory farms.
- Visit a farm sanctuary and get to know the different species of animals used in animal food production.
- Oppose Ag-gag legislation that aims to conceal evidence of animal abuse in factory farming operations.
- Download and print or mail order NHES’ Factory Farms brochure to distribute in your community.