Media Coverage: Daily News

A foie gras ban will harm humans, and it won’t help ducks

By in Media Coverage: Daily News

Editorial From Foie Gras Collective Secretary, Sergio Saravia



This week, the New York City Council plans to vote in favor of a ban on selling foie gras within the five boroughs. This legislation is an unfair assault on local farmers, one that’s based on a massive misinformation campaign by animal rights activists. Poorly considered policy based on lies could cost the Catskill region more than 400 jobs and millions in revenue both inside and outside of New York City.

Fueling the misinformation campaign is a false narrative about how we farmers raise and care for our animals. Not a single activist or member of the Council has come to our farm to see our practices first-hand. Not one. The truth is we are one of the most gentle farms raising animals for human consumption in the region.

Yet even as these progressives posture as defenders of immigrants, they stand poised to destroy jobs and threaten a legal pathway for immigrants to realize the American dream. This is one of the most significant human rights violations I have ever seen.

I know firsthand what it is like to be persecuted. I was born into war in El Salvador; we fled my country because of the horrific things happening all around us. I watched my mother be viciously beaten at the hands of terrorists. They held us at gunpoint, and they threatened to kill all of us.

My father immigrated here first, and he was able to bring us out of war and into this country with what he learned from the duck farm where he worked. Then we started our own family farm. Today we are four generations in — and I have become an immigration lawyer because I lived through it and wanted to help others.

I have represented local agriculture workers and worked hard to create pathways to citizenship for over 1,500 of them. These workers have found their way to citizenship and jobs, whether it’s in farming or other trades like accounting, some even in law. I do this for my father, who wanted to pay the blessings he found in this country forward to others forced from their homelands.

We settled in Sullivan County, the second poorest county in the state. Once known for its Borscht Belt hotel industry, the county’s primary employer now is agriculture. The loss of our duck farms would send the county, already facing a horrific opioid problem and economic depression, into a nose-dive. The healthcare and addiction recovery facilities that our farms privately support to assist our underserved communities would go severely underfunded.

You won’t read much about these economic repercussions in the news, which has focused its reporting on harsh and unfair characterizations put forth by well-funded activists.

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I want New Yorkers to know that we treat our ducks humanely. Our ducks run free and unrestricted in large, regularly-cleaned, well-ventilated spaces. Unlike much of the poultry, people buy at the supermarket every day without thinking twice, they are never confined to single-space cages.

To ensure quality, we developed our own nutritious, liquefied feed that we grow here on the farm ourselves. And at no cost, we provide fertilizer from our farm to other dairy farmers who are struggling in the area.

Our family invented a small, plastic, hand-feeding tube — an innovation within the industry — that’s gentler for the ducks than old antiquated metal pipe and funnel that you often hear animal rights activists complain about. We’ve even shared our innovation with other duck farms around the world with the hope that duck farmers will improve their practices.

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From hatchling to eventual processing, our ducks live a pain-free existence. Unfortunately, you won’t hear about that from the special-interest groups that have successfully lobbied City Council members to introduce legislation calling for the ban of foie gras sales within the city.

That’s the truth. Council members are poised to wipe out hundreds of upstate jobs in the name of helping ducks. It won’t help ducks, and it’ll harm humans horribly.

Saravia is president of La Belle Farms and Secretary of the Catskill Foie Gras Collective.