Illinois SB 413 – Ban on Force Feeding of Ducks and Geese

SB0413 Engrossed

 		    AN ACT concerning animals.

 		    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
 		represented in the General Assembly:

 		    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Force
 		Fed Birds Act.

 		    Section 5. Prohibition; penalties.
 		    (a) In this Section:
 		         (1) A "bird" includes, but is not limited to, a duck
 		    or goose.
 		        (2) "Force feeding a bird" means a process that causes
 		    the bird to consume more food than a typical bird of the
 		    same species would consume voluntarily. Force feeding
 		    methods include, but are not limited to, delivering feed
 		    through a tube or other device inserted into the bird's
 		    (b) A person may not force feed a bird for the purpose of
 		enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size or hire another
 		person to do so.
 		    (c) A person who knowingly violates this Section is guilty
 		of a petty offense and shall be fined $1,000. Each day that a
 		violation occurs is a separate offense.

California Foie Gras Restaurant Targeted by Extremists Closes

Sonoma Saveurs, the foie gras store and restaurant owned by the partners behind Sonoma Foie Gras, recently closed after failing to generate enough business to stay open.

The restaurant was severely vandalized in 2003, but ultimately closed because of a simple lack of patronage.

Junny and Guilermo Gonzalez, who were partners in the restaurant and also own Sonoma Foie Gras, said they would turn their focus to their foie gras farm.


Sonoma Saveurs foie gras shop closes. GraceAnn Walden, San Francisco Chronicle, February 9, 2005.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras Prepares for Activists

The Hudson Valley Chronogram recently published an intriguing profile of Hudson Valley Foie Gras — billed as the world’s largest producer of foie gras. With California scheduled to ban foie gras production by 2012, putting Hudson Valley Foie Gras’ competitor Sonoma Foie Gras out of business, the focus of anti-foie gras efforts by animal rights activists will inevitably fall on this New York company.

According to the Chronogram, the business slaughters 2,000 ducks per week during normal operations and reaches upwards of 10,000 ducks per week during the Christmas holiday.

Hudson Valley was one of the foie gras farms featured in animal rights activist Sarahjane Blum’s 16-minute film, Delicacy of Despair, in which Blum trespassed at Hudson Valley and Sonoma Foie Gras. Chronogram reporter Susan Gibbs was surprisingly skeptical of the film going in, however, noting that,

The film is horrifying, and incredibly effective. But my many years in television news has taught me that selective editing can make a bad situation look a thousand times worse. To find out what was really going on at a foie gras farm, I would have to visit one.

If only more journalists were as skeptical of heavily edited animal rights video as Gibbs is. Fortunately, Hudson Valley proprietors Izzy Yanay and Michael Ginor agreed to allow Gibbs to tour their farm and the result is a profile that makes clear this is a slaughter operation, but one that doesn’t quite live up to Blum’s billing has a horror house.

For example, Gibbs comments on a common claim by activists — that the force fed ducks are often too fat to walk,

Blum had told me to be on the lookout for ducks so fat they were unable to walk. All of the ducks I saw walked. They were very fat and very dirty, a fact both Yanay and Blum said was due to a lack of sufficient water for preening. Several of the fattest ducks had green chalk marks on their necks designating them for the next day’s slaughter.

Gibbs also addresses the issue of ducks being accidentally killed in the forced feeding process,

Each of the farm’s 90 handlers is responsible for feeding 350 ducks three times a day. Spending one minute on each bird would make for a 17-and-a-half-hour workday, but most handlers work much faster. Activists claim that over-worked employees don’t have time to be careful with the ducks and sometimes kill them by overfeeding. Yanay denies the charged, pointing out that worker’s monthly bonuses are docked for each dead bird.

Blum’s short film featured shots of isolation cages at Hudson Valley. When Gibbs visited the farm, Yanay told her that, “That was an experiment. It didn’t work.” According to Yanay, the isolation cages have been discontinued. Blum, however, told Gibbs she doesn’t believe Yanay when he says the isolation cages are no longer being used.

Yanay defends foie gras as no more or less cruel than any other form of animal agriculture, and suggests that if activists do succeed in New York as they have in California, it won’t have much long-term impact on his business,

Okay. We are bad people. But what we do wrong is we kill them. We are a farm that produces a product. You see cute little babies coming out of the eggs. We grow them and feed them and then we have to kill them.

. . .

If production is banned in New York, we will take our business to China. We will kill the same number of ducks. No ducks have ever been spared by banning foie gras.


Fowl feast: Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Susan Gibbs, Chronogram (Hudson Valley), February 2005.

Israel Bans Force-Feeding of Geese

Following a 2003 Supreme Court decision that found foie gras violated Israel’s animal welfare law, the Israeli parliament this month passed legislation that will end the force-feeding of geese effective at the end of January 2005.

The Israeli Agriculture Minister had requested that the ban not go into effect until the end of March, but the Knesset Education Committee stuck fast to an end of January deadline to stop the practice.

Knesset Education Committee chair Meli Polishook-Bloch was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying of the ban,

The time has come to put an end to the drawn-out period of many years during which the geese have suffered.

Agricultural Ministry Director-General Yossy Ishay, on the other hand, was troubled by the influence that animal rights activists have had on this issue, telling the Jerusalem Post,

This is the first time the Knesset has decided that an entire sector of agriculture is illegal. If we don’t stop the animal rights groups, tomorrow you won’t be able to milk cows or keep chickens in coops.

Israel is among the world leaders in foie gras exports, with over 70 producers that export about $8 million worth of foie gras annually.


What’s bad for the goose . . . must stop, committee rules. Stuart Winer, The Jerusalem Post, January 4, 2005.

Israel to ban force-feeding of geese. Agence-France Presse, January 4, 2005.

France Delays Foie Gras Cage Ban Until 2010

According to UK newspaper The Guardian, France has angered animal rights activists by giving its 6,000 foie gras producers until at least 2010 to comply with a European Union ruling that requires the elimination of individual cages known as epinettes. The cages are criticized for their small, cramped size

The Guardian quoted a spokeswoman for the French Animal Rights League as saying,

It’s shameful. France has ratified all these conventions on cruelty to animals, and even put most of them into national law, yet it continues to condone this barbaric practice. It seems foie gras is sacred.

France, of course, is the world’s leading producer of foie gras, accounting for 70 percent of the world’s supply and 85 percent of the consumption of foie gras. According to The Guardian, the average French person eats foie gras about 10 times each year.


France defies EU to continue force-feeding birds for foie gras. Jon Henley, The Guardian, September 18, 2004.

Animal CARE Foundation Joins Groups Opposing California's Foie Gras Ban

Animal CARE Foundation president Sabina De Giacomo posted an e-mail to animal rights list today putting her group on record as opposing California’s proposed ban on foie gras. Passed by the legislature and awaiting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto or signature, the bill was originally promote by animal rights groups but changes made to the bill have such groups divided over whether or not to support it.

Citing amendments made to the original bill, De Giacomo wrote,

You will see the first amendment dragging the abuse out to January of 2012 then
in the second amendment, force feeding becomes exempt from any kind of cruelty
enforcement during that time period of 8 long miserable years and finally, in
the most recent amendment, all pending criminal and civil actions are supposed
to “disappear”. Basically, this leaves the birds with absolutely no protection
for 8 years and the foie gras producers with complete protection from any sort
of legal fees or fear of reprisal for “cruelty”.

The birds deserve better than this! In fact, these modifications practically
invite cruelty and help the CA dead fatty liver producers invest all those
potentially saved lawyers fees in new ways to torture ducks and whatever else
they get into in eight years.

ENOUGH ALREADY! Let Gov Schwarzenegger understand this is totally
unacceptable; he listened before under intense pressure!


ALERT: Please help Veto California SB 1520. Sabina De Giacomo, September 9, 2004.