A bill that would eventually ban the production of foie gras in California recently cleared both houses of the California legislature, but one of its supporters — Friends of Animals — is urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto the bill.
Animal rights activists originally pushed for the bill, but it was amended by the legislature in ways that did not make them happy.
First, the ban on force feeding of birds in California wouldn’t go into effect until July 1, 2012 at the earliest. Ostensibly this is to give foie gras producers times to change their business practices, but this is also a nice way to simply punt the issue to a future legislature which could simply void the current bill.
Second, in the mean time the bill provides protections to foie gras producers from civil or criminal action. The bill provides that,
No civil or criminal cause of action shall arise on or after January 1, 2005, nor shall a pending action commenced prior to January 1, 2005, be pursued under any provision of law against a person or entity for engaging, prior to July 1, 2012, in any act prohibited by this chapter.
So instead of an immediate ban on foie gras, what the activists got for their trouble was a ban almost 8 years in the future with explicit criminal and civil immunity for foie gras producers in the meantime.
In a letter urging animal rights activists to call Gov. Schwarzenegger’s office and urge him to veto the bill, Friends of Animals Daniel Hammer wrote,
In his testimony on SB 1520, Assemblyperson Joe Nation stated: “I want to emphasize this. Sonoma Foie Gras, the only producer of foie gras in California, supports SB 1520.”
Sonoma Foie Gras retained a lobbyist to work on getting SB 1520 passed. In his testimony, Sonoma Foie Gras owner Guillermo Gonzalez stated: “I want to express my appreciation for allowing us to continue in operation! We are very appreciative.”
Gov. Schwarzenegger’s office needs to hear from you. Tell him SB 1520 only benefits the state’s foie gras producer, while ensuring the continued torture of at least 440,000 ducks. Please press Gov. Schwarzenegger to veto SB 1520, “the foie gras bill.”
The full text of the amended bill can be read here.
Update on SB 1520: Urgent Action Alert. Press Release, Friends of Animals, August 31, 2004.