Judge Rules Poultry Are Not 'Livestock'
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Judge Rules Poultry Are Not 'Livestock'

March 2008

A San Francisco judge has ruled that chickens are not "livestock," and, as a result, are not subject to the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, according to court filings.

A lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States against the Agriculture Department argued that USDA had misinterpreted the 50-year-old act.

"The court finds the legislative history strongly demonstrates unambiguous congressional intent that livestock, as used in the HMSA, does not include poultry," U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel wrote in her opinion.

Judge Patel granted summary judgment in USDA's favor and dismissed the lawsuit.

HSUS's argument was based on a 1958 dictionary definition of livestock that said that the word encompassed "useful" animals on a farm, while USDA said that the term livestock has always internally meant to exclude poultry.

"The plain language of these bills indicates that Congress intended to exclude poultry from the definition of livestock when it enacted H.R. 8308, the bill that eventually became the HMSA," Patel wrote.

 

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