This week, seven animal-rights organizations filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) challenging its decision to reduce oversight at pig slaughterhouses and remove limits on the speed at which animals are slaughtered. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Farm Sanctuary, Animal Equality, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals, and North Carolina Farmed Animal Save. The groups are being represented by Lewis & Clark Law School’s new Animal Law Litigation Clinic (ALLC)—the only law school clinic in the world dedicated to farmed animal advocacy—along with the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthrise Law Center at Lewis & Clark Law School. The lawsuit challenges the USDA’s action under the Administrative Procedure Act, Federal Meat Inspection Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. Specifically, it challenges the USDA’s cancellation of slaughter line speed caps, which means slaughterhouses are now allowed to run the slaughter line at any speed they choose, regardless of the consequences to workers and animals. The lawsuit also challenges the USDA’s decision to remove and relocate federal inspectors in slaughterhouses. Federal law requires agency inspectors to ensure that animals at slaughterhouses are not subjected to cruel handling and sick animals don’t enter the food system. “These sensitive, intelligent animals are already largely overlooked by the law, and now the USDA has effectively written out the little protections Congress extended to them,” Delcianna Winders, ALLC assistant clinical professor and clinic director, said. “This illegal regulation is a total abdication of the USDA’s statutory responsibilities to millions of pigs and must be overturned.”

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