2 Animal L. 123 (1996)
Beyond the Law: Agribusiness and the Systemic Abuse of Animals Raised for Food or Food Production

handle is hein.journals/anim2 and id is 135 raw text is: BEYOND 2rilE LAW: AGRIBUSINESS AND THE SYSTEMIC
Animals raised for food or food production in the United States are, in large
part, excluded from legal protection against cruelty. This article describes
the minimal state and federal laws relating to such animals and documents
numerous recent amendments to state anticruelty statutes that have placed
the definition of cruelty tofarm animals in the hands of the farming commu-
nity. Mr. Wolfson argues that these amendments contradict the historical
purpose of anticruelty statutes originally enacted to protect farm animals.
The article also contrasts this regressive legal development with progressive
European legislation. Finally, Mr. Wolfson outlines a pathfor reform.
Since the early nineteenth century, Western society has enacted laws
to protect animals from cruelty. While such laws were originally intended
to protect animals such as cows, sheep, and horses, they have generally
evolved to cover all domestic animals, including dogs and cats. In recent
years, however, a large number of U.S. states have amended their an-
ticruelty laws. Today, the majority of U.S. states prohibit, at least in part,
the application of their anticruelty statutes to farm animals.
Specifically, twenty-eight states have enacted laws that create a legal
realm whereby certain acts, no matter how cruel, are outside the reach of
anticruelty statutes as long as the acts are deemed accepted, common,
customary, or normal farming practices. These statutes have given the
farming community the power to define cruelty to animals in their care.
Similarly, certain states' anticruelty statutes also exclude poultry, which
represent an estimated ninety-five percent of the more than seven billion
farm animals slaughtered annually.
* Associate, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in New York City;, J.D. 1993, Harlan
Fiske Stone Scholar, Columbia University School of Law. Mr. Wolfson also studied at the
College of Law, London, England.
1 I would like to thank the following individuals for their invaluable input and criticism
Henry Spira, Elinor Molbegott, Kathrin Wanner, Gene Bauston, Dr. Andrew Rowan, Lisa
Weisberg, Steven Wise, Martha Fineman, Melisse Cunningham, and Merritt Clifton. I would
also like to thank my wife, Dr. Louise A. S. Murray, without whose assistance this paper
would not have been possible.


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