ANNAPOLIS, Md., March 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On March 10th, the full Maryland Legislature turned back an attempt advanced by animal rights groups to impose a ban on the production and sale of foie gras in that state. The proposed ban was rejected after being the subject of a Senate Committee hearing. Representatives of the Artisans Farmers Alliance and the Maryland Restaurant Association as well as the former President of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society all spoke against the merits of a proposed ban. Two days after the March 4th hearing, Maryland House Delegate Tanya Shewell withdrew her bill. In the Senate, the bill's sponsor, Senator Joan Carter Conway, backed away from the provisions that would have banned the sale and transport of foie gras, saying publicly, "We may have gone too far [with this]". She expressed general reservations about the bill and said, "I have heard additional information about the foie gras process that has caused me to change my mind." The Maryland State Veterinarian, Dr. Guy Hohenhaus, opposed the bill on behalf of the State's Department of Agriculture. He said at the hearing, "Previous deliberations by the AVMA and careful review of the science simply do not support a foie gras ban." Prior to the hearing, Melvin Thompson, Vice President of the Maryland Restaurant Association led a delegation of interested parties on a tour of the Hudson Valley Foie Gras farm in Sullivan County, NY, in order to provide for a first-hand inspection of the farming and feeding practices involved with foie gras. "As the alleged ethical issues were raised by the animal rights activist community at the hearing, it was a powerful counterbalance for our members to provide testimony as to what they saw at Hudson Valley Foie Gras," said Mr. Thompson. "When we visited the Hudson Valley farm, we saw nothing that would indicate that the care and feeding of the birds was not entirely consistent with generally accepted humane farming practices." After hearing of the victory, Sergio Vitale of Aldo's Restaurant in Baltimore said, "It's a good feeling to know that legislators listened to our concerns and allowed us to correct the misinformation surrounding this issue." Izzy Yanay, VP of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, said after the recent action in Maryland, "We are very gratified to see that when the science and agricultural facts are laid before open-minded decision makers, they arrive at a reasonable conclusion. Arbitrarily banning any culinary tradition without looking at all the facts would be unfortunate public policy." Hudson Valley Foie Gras, located in Ferndale, NY, is one of only three foie gras farms in the United States. It employs 150 individuals and has annual sales of $15 million. The Artisan Farmers Alliance (AFA) represents America's foie gras farmers and others involved in bringing artisanal agricultural products to the American table. Artisan farmers are using traditional, small-scale, sustainable farming techniques to produce the finest food products possible and reconnect American consumers with our rich agricultural heritage. The AFA is working both to educate the public about our centuries-old farming practices and to defend the rights of consumers to make their own decisions about food.
SOURCE Artisan Farmers Alliance