Humane Society Serves Legal Notice of Massive Clean Water Act Violations on New York Foie Gras Factory Farm

The Humane Society of the United States filed notice in December of its intent to file suit against Hudson Valley Foie Gras—a foie gras factory farm near Ferndale, N.Y.—for violations of the Clean Water Act. The facility, which constitutes a Concentrated Animal Feed Operation under federal regulations, confines approximately 250,000 ducks annually. Over the past year, Hudson Valley has violated several provisions of its Clean Water Act permit by operating a manure lagoon without the state's approval, discharging wastes to a nearby pond and failing to have an emergency action plan.

The Humane Society of the United States filed suit against the same facility in September 2006 for releasing excessive pollution from its slaughter plant. Now, New York Department of Environmental Conservation inspection documents reveal violations at the duck-raising portion of the same facility. For example, the State identified one of HVFG's waste storage facilities—a 2 million gallon manure lagoon—as "unsatisfactory" because the lagoon was constructed without being evaluated by an engineer, or even with the state's knowledge. In another case, HVFG allowed contaminated runoff from the barns to flow into an adjacent pond. The State issued a formal Notice of Violation, citing the facility for several violations, on December 4, 2006.

"Like many factory farms, Hudson Valley Foie Gras is operating in total disregard of the welfare of its neighbors, the environment and the animals confined in its facility," said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president of Animal Protection Litigation for The HSUS. "If this facility can't even operate in compliance with our most fundamental federal pollution laws, it should not be operating at all."

Hudson Valley Foie Gras raises and slaughters ducks to produce the controversial French "delicacy" foie gras. To produce the paté, birds are force-fed an unnatural amount of food through a pipe thrust down their throats until their livers expand to ten or more times their natural size, causing liver damage, blood toxicity and death. This process not only results in extreme suffering for the birds, it also produces a significant amount of waste, including manure and slaughter waste. Despite animal welfare concerns and Hudson Valley Foie Gras' dismal environmental record, the State of New York recently granted more than $400,000 in taxpayer funds to the factory farm to expand its operations.

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