The Real Living Conditions of Farmed Animals
The industrial animal agriculture industry is known for painting romanticized images of farmed animals’ living conditions. Consumers are led to picture idyllic pastures, happy animals, sunlight, and fresh air and water.
This is far from the case for 99 percent of farmed land animals in the United States and other countries where industrial animal agriculture—also known as factory farming—is increasingly prevalent. Animals raised in industrial facilities—called concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs—are subjected to intensive confinement and filthy conditions and don’t see the sun until being led to slaughter. Fed steady cocktails of antibiotics to stimulate growth and ward off disease, many have been genetically engineered to grow so fast so quickly that they succumb to organ failure or collapse under their own weight or the weight of others. In order to counteract the results of the stress these conditions impose upon them, the industry subjects them to routine mutilations such as: debeaking, tail docking, and teeth cutting—all without the use of anesthesia or painkillers.
Industrial Animal Agriculture Law
A common misconception in the U.S. is that farmed animals are protected by federal animal welfare laws. This is far from the truth as the Animal Welfare Act exempts farmed animals from the scope of its protections. The only federal laws that do protect farmed animals concern their transport and slaughter, yet both frameworks likewise exempt the vast majority of farmed animals from their respective purview. Equally problematic, at the state level, anti-cruelty codes often carve out farmed animals from the scope of their protection in one of two ways: either by discluding farmed animals entirely or through whole-scale exemptions for commonly accepted agricultural and/or husbandry practices.
How Justice Is Affected
Industrial animal agriculture harms local communities as well. Massive poultry or pig facilities are often sited near low-income communities and communities of color, forcing residents to live with excessive water and air pollution and suffering serious negative health impacts. More and more often, these communities are fighting back and suing the large corporate conglomerates who profit at the expense of the animals, people, and the environment.
Industrial animal agriculture conditions not only touch animal welfare and environmental justice but also negatively impact the environment and climate change. The Economist reported that cattle production is responsible for 12% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to being a key driver of climate change, animal agriculture is responsible for deforestation, biodiversity loss, species extinction, and the exhaustion of water resources. Furthermore, the massive amount of waste produced by industrial animal agriculture, an estimated 885 billion pounds annually, contributes to water pollution, air pollution, and soil degradation.
What You Can Do To Make A Difference for Farmed Animals
If you’ve ever considered advocating for farmed animals, an advanced degree in animal law from the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) at Lewis & Clark Law School is designed to equip you with the knowledge, skills, and resources to protect their interests. CALS is home to Professor of Practice Joyce Tischler, also affectionately known as the “Mother of Animal Law.” Instrumental in forging the animal law field back in the 1970s, Professor Tischler has been a trailblazer for over forty years. She has dedicated her career to improving the lives of animals through the legal system. She is internationally recognized for her work and speaks across the globe on issues regarding animal legal protections.
Under Tischler’s guidance, students in the online Industrial Animal Agriculture course examine the conditions in which farmed animals are raised, transported, and slaughtered, the policies that brought this system into existence and encourage it to expand globally, statutory and case law relevant to the farmed animal production system and the cultural values and economic pressures that underlie different legal systems’ treatment of farmed animals.
The course heavily focuses on pragmatic policy issues, the industrial animal agriculture system’s impact on animals, consumers of animal products, the environment, farmworkers, and the people who live near these facilities. The status and legal protections for farmed animals in the U.S. will be compared to that of farmed animals in the European Union and other countries and regions.
Regarding the importance of the course, Professor Tischler says, “Industrial animal agriculture causes intense suffering and death to 70 billion individual land animals every year on a worldwide basis. I can’t imagine anything more important than speaking out for those individuals and working to end that suffering.”
Earn Your LLM or MSL Degree in Animal Law
A firm grasp of how legal protections are secured by the law and how the law can be advanced to protect all animals—and farmed animals in particular—is critical to driving change, and both the LLM and MSL are designed to empower students with that knowledge. With renowned animal law scholars and practitioners as your professors, including Professor Tischler, students are supported by faculty deeply committed to excellence in teaching. Students also have the opportunity to learn and network with peers who are engaged in compelling and diverse animal law work in the U.S. and abroad. CALS prepares students for advancement in the animal law career path that alumni choose, whether that is a specialized practice, policy development, implementation, or enforcement, scholarship or teaching, advocacy, or executive leadership.
The LLM is offered in-person in Portland, Oregon, or fully online in an asynchronous format. Through the online degree option, students have the flexibility and freedom to specialize in animal law while also maintaining their professional, family, and other commitments. If you want to be a voice for farmed animals, fight for environmental justice, and work towards social justice, an advanced degree in animal law from Lewis and Clark Law School can pave the way.
The MSL degree in Animal Law from Lewis & Clark Law School is now being offered. You can apply now for the next available semester start.