A federal court in New York recently denied the US Department of Agriculture’s motion to dismiss claims by AWI and other organizations alleging the department has illegally failed to regulate the humane treatment of nonambulatory, “downed” (NAD) pigs—animals who are unable to walk or move on their own—at slaughter. Because of this condition, NAD pigs are disproportionately subject to inhumane handling, as workers prod, kick, and drag the animals to keep them moving at the slaughterhouse.
In 2002, Congress ordered the secretary of agriculture to investigate and report on the humane treatment of nonambulatory livestock, but the secretary failed to do so. As a result, AWI and other organizations have had to expend significant resources to ensure that the USDA carries out its responsibilities. The USDA challenged AWI’s standing to sue, but the district court held that the organizations sufficiently pleaded standing and could move forward with the case, citing the significant organizational harms suffered because of the USDA’s failure to regulate this situation.