Let the lawsuits begin! Just one day after the California ban on the production and sale of force-fed foie gras went into affect, a coalition of L.A. chefs, along with Hudson Valley Foie Gras and a Canadian duck-farming trade group, filed suit against the state of California seeking to overturn it. In a filing Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the coalition’s lawyers say the law is unconstitutional and, among other things, "excessively burdens interstate commerce." (Read the full complaint here.) Attorney Michael Tenenbaum tells the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s also going to be seeking a preliminary injunction, which would then make the sale of foie gras legal again until the details of the law can be hashed out in court.
It’s unclear how soon that injunction might be filed or take effect, but Rob Black, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, has already issued a statement in support of it. "We support [the injunction]," Black says, "because the law continues to raise more questions than it answers. The ban is riddled with loopholes … Instead of keeping foie gras sales in California, the law pushes commerce in foie gras to bordering states where cottage industries will now be set up to get around the ban."
We’re sure this will only enrage the anti-foie-gras activists further, but it should come as a relief to chefs across the state that something immediate might be able to be done. We know that Hudson Valley Foie Gras also has a big stake in all this, with about twenty percent of their annual sales coming from California alone, and thus it makes sense that they would hurry up and sue.
A rep for Northern California-based CHEFS (Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards), which was not a party to this suit, says they plan to lobby to state legislature in the next session, and they’ve already made some headway with state senator Lois Wolk, who said she might sponsor some legislation next year to revise the law.