Maryland Legislature Rejects Proposed Foie Gras Ban

Mar 10, 2008, 01:00 ET from Artisan Farmers Alliance

    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
     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