Description: Lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule establishing an optional new inspection system for hog slaughter establishments, including the failure to consider the rule's environmental impacts.
Farm Sanctuary v. U.S. Department of Agriculture
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/18/2019 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Plaintiffs Raised Climate Change Concerns in Challenge to Hog Slaughter Inspection Rule. A lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) final rule establishing an optional new inspection system for hog slaughter establishments included a claim that the USDA violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by determining that the rule was categorically excluded from NEPA review. The complaint—filed by seven nonprofit organizations in the federal district court for the Western District of New York—asserted that even if the general terms of the USDA’s categorical exclusion for the actions of the Food Safety and Inspection Service could cover the rule, “extraordinary circumstances” existed that required preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. Those circumstances related to the significant adverse environmental effects that the plaintiffs alleged would result from the increase in pig demand and slaughter numbers that the USDA projected in its economic benefits analysis. The plaintiffs alleged that the potential environmental effects included “supply-level” effects, including increasing the risk of climate change due to increases in emissions of the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide at concentrated animal feeding operations.