Foie gras is banned by Chicago council, but subsidized by New York governor

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2006:

ALBANY, N.Y.–While other jurisdictions are moving to end
the foie gras industry, the tax-supported Empire State Development
Corporation in late May 2006 authorized a grant of $420,000 to help
Hudson Valley Foie Gras increase production by about 10% per year
over the next three years.
Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which accounts for about half of
all U.S. foie gras production, would be raising about 325,000 birds
per year at the end of the planned $1 million expansion. The
expansion would add 10 jobs to the present staff of 150.
The Empire State Development Corporation is “a public
authority that answers to Governor George Pataki, but not the
Legislature,” explained Syracuse Post-Standard staff writer Michelle
Breidenbach. The corporation “will borrow $140,000 for the project
and use cash from the state’s general fund for the remaining
$280,000.”

The grant was announced four months after a bill calling for
a 10-year phase-out of foie gras production died in the New York
state legislature. The bill was similar to others introduced in
Massachusetts, Illinois, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington, backed
by the Humane Society of the U.S.
HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, In Defense of Animals, and PETA in
September 2004 claimed a victory over foie gras when California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a prototype for the other state
bills that will purportedly ban force-feeding ducks and geese in
2012. But the bill, as passed, “does not ban foie gras,”
Schwartzenegger stipulated. “This bill provides seven and a half
years to perfect a humane way for a duck to consume grain to increase
the size of its liver. If producers succeed, the ban on foie gras
sales and production in California will not occur.”
The Humane Farming Association and Friends of Animals opposed the bill.
Said HFA co-founder Brad Miller, “California has become the first
state to explicitly legalize force-feeding ducks and geese to produce
foie gras,” since “In addition to protecting Sonoma Foie Gras,” the
only California producer, “from being prosecuted under existing
animal cruelty laws, this bill took away the right of citizens to
sue the company for force-feeding.” This “effectively eliminated a
lawsuit pending against the company.”
Sonoma Foie Gras endorsed the bill in final form–and
recently filed a lawsuit of its own against the Whole Foods Market
grocery chain, accusing Whole Foods of “intentional interference
with contract” for “demanding that supplier Grimaud Farms end its
8-year partnership” with Sonoma Foie Gras, summarized the electronic
newsletter Farmed Animal Watch.
“Approximately 20% of Grimaud Farms’ revenue comes from its
partnership with Sonoma Foie Gras,” Farmed Animal Watch added. “For
the past decade, Grimaud has also provided Muscovy ducks to Whole
Foods for retail sale, accounting for 15% of its revenue. Whole
Foods and Grimaud agree that Grimaud’s association with the
processing and distribution of foie gras is incompatible with Whole
Food’s new Animal Compassionate Standards,” introduced in 2004,
after former Viva! U.S. office director Lauren Ornelas confronted
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey at the company’s 2003 board meeting and
gradually won his attention in six months of subsequent e-mail
correspondence.
Ornelas recently moved from Viva! to Compassion Over Killing.
“Whole Foods has not carried foie gras since 1997 because of
the cruelty associated with the process,” Farmed Animal Watch
summarized. “Foie gras has been banned in Chicago,” through an
ordinance adopted in April 2006, “and Philadelphia is considering
banning it. The newly formed North American Foie Gras Producers
Association is examining the constitutionality of such bans.”

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