Sullivan County finds New York foie gras ban unconstitutional
Voted on October 30 by the New York City Council, the ban on the sale of foie gras is expected to apply from 2022 onwards to all stores and restaurants in the city.
The European Foie Gras Federation – Euro Foie Gras – had strongly criticized this demagogic decision based on misconceptions [see our press release], but this ban, in addition to having no solid foundation, will also have disastrous consequences for rural activity in Sullivan County, New York.
Indeed, this is where the two largest foie gras farms in the United States are located, La Belle Farm and Hudson Valley Foie Gras. With 380 employees and while New York City is their largest market, these two producers and Sullivan County believe that the ban places an unreasonable restriction on their business – that is, outside of the jurisdiction of the municipality of New York – and officially filed a petition with the State on December 11 to have it declared unconstitutional. If their request is successful, New York City – where foie gras is on the menu of nearly 1,000 restaurants – will be forced to overturn its decision.
European livestock sector unites to ‘burst’ the myths surrounding the sector
Brussels, 10th December 2019 – Representatives from the European livestock sector gathered today in front of the European Commission buildings in Brussels to address the danger of oversimplifying the debate around livestock and its role in European society. This flash action echoes a number of concerns highlighted by the numerous protests that have taken place in different European countries in recent weeks.
Aiming to tackle the myths that prevail online today and the agri-bashing related to livestock production, the European Livestock Voice, a group of EU-based organisations that are active on livestock issues, decided to raise their voices at EU-level by bringing together farmers, MEPs and other actors from the sector to ‘burst’ a series of balloons carrying common myths or misinformation in front of the European Commission building. This action took place on the first day of the European Commission’s Agricultural Outlook conference and a few days after the new European Commission was appointed in order to try to rebalance the debate around livestock production.
Marianne Streel, President of the Wallonian Farmers Organisation, who was present during the flash action, said “We want to urge people and policy-makers to pay attention to the European livestock sector and to the misleading information that is damaging its reputation and endangering farmers’ livelihoods and even their lives in some cases. In Wallonia, farms shut up shop every day. In the last 10 years, 31% of our farms have disappeared. These are clear and frightening figures that can also be found in other Member States. If we lose our livestock farms, the repercussions will be significant in many areas, both in our countryside and on our plates. These consequences are currently overlooked in the debates because we tend to forget the positive aspects of livestock in Europe.”
In this regard, professionals from the sector are starting to mobilise to raise awareness throughout Europe, from Ireland to Italy, with initiatives that aim to make their point of view heard and remind decision-makers that the debate on these issues is also constantly evolving at academic level. The European Livestock Voice launched an initial campaign at EU level supported by a website with the aim to engage in the debate, focusing on facts and feedback from professionals in the sector. During the flash action, the organisers announced that the group will continue and expand these actions in the coming months.
Stop food dictatorship and harassment from activists!
Brussels, 15 November 2019 – Following our first press release (available here), Euro Foie Gras wishes to express its outrage at the new action of animal activists in a starred restaurant in the Limburg region offering three dishes based on foie gras.
In the restaurant, the activists asked to shut down Filip Callemeyn’s farm with signs and slogans. We want to recall that Mr Callemeyn is the only producer of foie gras in Flanders, a region where his activity was unfortunately banned from 2023 by a decision based on a lack of knowledge of the production and prejudices caused by false images and ideas shared by animal activists.
This attack against Mr. Callemeyn’s activity is scandalous. After the action on his farm and the occupation of an Antwerp supermarket selling his products last weekend, we call for the harassment of which Mr Callemeyn is victim to stop. This product is legally manufactured and marketed. Euro Foie Gras gives its full support to Filip and his family who are alone in dealing with these actions while their future is already uncertain because no compensation system has been proposed yet by the government.
Euro Foie Gras considers that a minority of people do not have to impose their food choices on the rest of the population, let alone by intimidation and violence. Euro Foie Gras also calls on the Minister to clearly condemn this type of behavior against Flemish farmers and breeders.
Euro Foie Gras, the European Federation of Foie Gras, brings together producers’ federations from France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain and Hungary. Its goal is to establish a continuous exchange of good practices, know-how and promote the profession of foie gras producer.
Attack on a foie gras farm in Flanders: a shameful and intolerable action
Brussels, 12 November 2019 – The European Federation of Foie Gras – Euro Foie Gras – strongly condemns the action against Filip Callemeyn, a foie gras producer in Bekegem (West Flanders). On Saturday morning, November 9, around forty animal activists entered his farm, some chaining themselves to the facilities, provoking an abnormal disorder. The stress and panic generated by these irresponsible people caused the direct and indirect death of about 500 animals.
For Mr Callemeyn, “this attack was perpetrated by people who have a total ignorance of our production and more generally of animals. I am shocked by this action that lasted a whole day in my farm in violation of private property and to the detriment of the welfare of my ducks. How can you claim to defend animals and carry out an action which causes their death?”
“This attack against a foie gras farm is unspeakable. All European foie gras producers express their support and solidarity to Filip in this ordeal,” said Christophe Barrailh, President of Euro Foie Gras before adding “We will not let ourselves be intimidated by these unworthy and absurd actions using extremely violent methods while we are in a democratic State in which dialogue must always prevail. We are passionate breeders and we raise our animals with respect, ensuring their welfare and in compliance with the law. “
The European Federation of Foie Gras recalls that the production of foie gras is extensive, family-based and essentially outdoor. Palmipeds live 90% of their life outside. The last 10 days, they are placed in collective housing for the fattening phase. At the cost of substantial investments, the fat palmipeds sector changed all its equipment to comply with the Recommendation of 22 June 1999 of the Council of Europe.
Euro Foie Gras also strongly protests against Sunday’s action in a supermarket in Antwerp selling foie gras from Mr Callemeyn’s farm. This is again an intolerable act of pressure and harassment, this time targeting an economic player.
Against the will of some people to impose by violence their vision of food, Euro Foie Gras opposes dialogue. Despite attacks and threats, the European foie gras sector will continue to be transparent by keeping opening up farms to the public. European producers are proud of their know-how and the delicacy they produce.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Euro Foie Gras, the European Federation of Foie Gras, brings together producers’ federations from France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain and Hungary. Its goal is to establish a continuous exchange of good practices, know-how and promote the profession of foie gras producer.
Euro Foie Gras: New York City ban on foie gras based on misconceptions and demagoguery
Brussels, 31 October 2019 – The European Federation of Foie Gras – Euro Foie Gras – deplores the ban on the sale of foie gras voted on Wednesday, 30th of October by the New York City Council. This law will affect from 2022 onwards all stores and restaurants in New York City that sell foie gras.
This measure is totally unjustified: foie gras originates from healthy waterfowl, which spend 90% of their life outdoors before the fattening phase which lasts between 10 and 14 days, with two meals per day. Contrary to the allegations of the anti-foie gras lobby, foie gras production respects animal welfare. Migratory birds naturally stock fat in their livers and the fattening of geese and ducks is a mere reproduction of this natural, non-pathological, and totally reversible physiological ability. Indeed, offering quality living conditions to their animals is a daily concern for any waterfowl farmer. This is essential for the animals and a prerequisite to obtain a quality product. The compatibility of the fattening phase with animal welfare has been proven by scientific studies. This reality is constantly ignored by those who misinform the general public by leading them into an anthropomorphic perception of the animal who, although sentient, remains nonetheless different from a human being.
This ban is also a restriction of freedom for passionate cooks and consumers in New York and it poses an existential threat to local duck farms, who employ hundreds of workers in the State of New York. Before the vote, not a single member of the City Council has accepted the invitation from foie gras producers to visit a foie gras farm, so as to find out by themselves the reality of the production. Due to this lack of contact with the true situation on the ground, the decided ban was clearly based on misconceptions and slogans, rather than on facts. This is clearly shown by the sloppy definition of the term “force-feeding” in the prohibition text.
For Christophe Barrailh, President of Euro Foie Gras, “it is scandalous that the marketing of this exceptional gastronomic and healthy product is prohibited, especially in the so-called country of the Free.”
Euro Foie Gras wishes to express its solidarity with New York’s foie gras producers, stores and restaurants facing this irrational decision. The Federation will continue to defend the right of consumers from Europe and across the Atlantic to enjoy foie gras in an era of continuous bashing of animal breeders and misinformation about their activities without taking into consideration their important contribution to food security, food safety and cultural heritage.
 Among others:
- Z. Erisir & al. 2009, “Effect of different housing systems on growth and welfare of Pekin ducks”, Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances 8(2).
- MS Dawkins, 2012, “Commercial scale research and assessment of poultry welfare”, British Poultry
- Science.E. Baeza, « La stéatose hépatique des palmipèdes », INRA Prod. Anim, 2013, 26 (5), 403-414.
- W. Molee, « Facteurs de variation de la composition lipidique des membranes plasmiques des hépatocytes chez les palmipèdes : relation avec le rendement technologique des foies gras », S.E.V.A.B., 2006.
- E Baéza & al., 2005, “Canards de Barbarie, Pékin et leurs hybrides: aptitude à l’engraissement”, INRA Productions.
- P. Chartrin & al.,2004, « Effet du génotype et du gavage sur les dépôts de lipides intramusculaires dans le filet de canard », Viandes et Produits Carnés, Hors-série des 10e Journées des Sciences du Muscle et Technologies des Viandes.
Freshly released NutriRECS consortium dietary advice updates on red and processed meats: a turning point in a longstanding controversy?
Opinion piece by Prof. Frédéric Leroy
Brussels, 16 October 2019 – Although we are surrounded by an overwhelming abundance and variety of foods, the simple daily act of eating remains a problematic struggle. In a highly normative society, we are continuously being reminded of our poor eating habits. The animal/plant divide in dietary preconceptions seems to be an important part of the mindset, suggesting a cultural rather than a factual perspective on eating right. Whilst the Western diet is clearly causing havoc and undermining public health, even the dietary guidelines usually put a disproportionate emphasis on the need to reduce the consumption of red meat and the products derived thereof. This is remarkable, to say the least, as red meat is a valuable nutrient-dense food and a key component of our evolutionary diets. It has been consumed since the origin of our genus, sometimes in formidable amounts. By 1.5 million years ago, we became largely adapted to meat eating, both anatomically and physiologically, and could not have survived without it.
This opinion piece is authored by Prof. Dr. ir. Frederic LEROY,
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
#MEATTHEFACTS: European Livestock Voice sets to balance the debate around livestock production
Euro Foie Gras is proud to be a part of the European Livestock Voice initiative that was launched today in the European Parliament. Please find below the official press release for the event !
The livestock sector is today at the epicentre of public debates in Europe and beyond. These debates are now mainly dominated by interest groups who spread myths and radical views about livestock farming. Ever increasing on social media and in the press, these myths and opinions end up portraying a picture that is in stark contrast with the reality experienced and lived every day by thousands of European farmers and professionals on the ground. These debates have strong impacts on the views of European consumers on the role of animal products in their lifestyle choices and they push the livestock sector into an extremely defensive corner of society. This negatively affects the EU livestock farming model and policy framework, increasing the challenges faced by our farming communities to ensure their economic viability, generational renewal and their capacity to adapt to societal and environmental demands.
In this context, and for the first time at EU level, over a dozen livestock organisations have decided to come together to take joint action to elevate the “other side” of the story, necessary to restore balance and factual information on both the impact and the contribution of the European livestock sector. With this objective in mind, European Livestock Voice has developed its own information hub, an online portal reviewing the accuracy of the most frequently made statements about livestock production, consumption and its benefits:
NO – 1kg of beef does not require 15,000L of drinking water to be produced
YES – The average size for livestock farms in Europe is below 50 hectares and Europe remains a model of family farming
NO – Using land for animal feed does not necessarily compete with land for human food
YES – European farmers care for their animals as it is fully in their interest to do so.
We are convinced that the EU livestock farming model, based on diversified, local and family farm structures, is the backbone of the EU’s rural areas. It supports a great number of jobs and industries, it contributes to the circular approach within the EU bioeconomy, while also ensuring a steady and affordable supply for sufficient, safe and nutritious food, as well as many other products and by-products, needed for a healthy lifestyle or Europe’s cultural and creative industries.
Removing livestock farming from Europe – a “Livestock Exit” – would have severe consequences. Europe without livestock would lose essential pasture lands, face increased forest fires, lack greatly in organic fertilisers, green energy and many other essential raw materials while contributing to an increased rural exodus. At the same time, it would mean the need to rely on imports for animal products, with virtually no control over the production standards and increasing the demand for fossil fuel-based materials.
To support the launch of this initiative two newly appointed MEPs, also livestock farmers, Alexander Bernhuber (EPP, AT) and Jeremy Decerle (Renew Europe, FR) have decided to lead the debate in the new European Parliament by hosting the launch event of our platform today in Brussels.
For MEP Alexander Bernhuber the situation is clear “Today’s debate about livestock farming is often held on a lack of knowledge within the society. The gap between consumers and producers is getting bigger and bigger. European farmers produce at worldwide highest animal welfare standards. Nowadays the challenge is to communicate the essential work of our farmers via several channels to the consumer. European Livestock Voice created a significant platform to brighten this issue and fight against disinformation at European level. It is important to spread fact-based knowledge about today’s livestock farming within the media. Hence, I strongly support this initiative.”
On his side, MEP Jérémy Decerle commenting on the initiative said that “As a breeder of Charolais cows, but also as a Member of the European Parliament (COM AGRI), I can only welcome the launch of such a European platform, specifically dedicated to livestock farming. It could help to dispel some preconceived ideas about this profession and bring a little pragmatism into the debates. At a time when Europeans want to eat healthier and more local food, but also to better preserve their environment, farmers can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, and the search for solutions begins with a comprehensive and rational look at the situation.“
MEP Clara Eugenia Aguilera García on her side commented “This initiative is a positive signal helping us in the European Parliament in our work to defend the EU livestock sector. The European livestock community works hard to ensure quality, sustainability and animal health and welfare. It has to be recognized while keeping a level playing field. Given the ever-increasing number of misconceptions, more work is needed to restore a constructive and rational discussion around a sector so important to our rural areas, our environment and our future.”
Flanders: The “Farm Party” attracts foie gras fans
In Bekegem, West Flanders, the 6th edition of the traditional party organized by the largest foie gras farm in Belgium attracted crowds last August.
This foie gras celebration takes place every Friday of August in the farm. Guests enjoy a variety of dishes featuring foie gras in a bucolic setting and a relaxed weekend atmosphere, facilitated by a keen trio of violinists. Visitors enjoyed a carriage ride to admire ducks while enjoying various specialties concocted by different Chefs on the spot. Chef Edwin Vinke particularly delighted the guests with his recipe perfectly marrying langoustines and terrine of foie gras while the food truck delighted all lovers of grilled foie gras, smoked foie gras salads and desserts.
Filip Callemeyn, owner of the farm, is delighted every year to gather a wide public around foie gras: “The first party was organized to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the farm. The success of this party encouraged us to bring it back every year. ” Every summer, the “farm party” brings together around 500 guests delighted to enjoy foie gras in all its forms.
Treat yourself with duck breast on plancha !
Enjoy this summer with a delicious recipe of duck breast (“magret”)on plancha accompanied by a salad of quinoa and raw vegetables! The recipe is easy and requires a preparation time of only 30 minutes. Start cooking and bon appétit!
Ingredients (4 people) :
- 2 Duck Magrets
- 250 g of quinoa
- 1 green pepper
- 2 carotts
- 1 zucchini
- 2 onions
- 50 g roasted pine nuts
- 50 g raisins
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- 2 teaspoons of five spices
- The juice of a yellow lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Paring knife
- Cutting board
- Glass salad bowl
STEP 1 : Rinse the quinoa, pour it into the pan with 2 times its volume of water. Salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
STEP 2 : Peel the onions and cut into slices.
STEP 3 : Fry 6 minutes on the plancha with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the five spices.
STEP 4 : Peel the carrots and cut them into small cubes. Cut the zucchini and pepper in small cubes.
STEP 5 : In a salad bowl, add cooked quinoa, vegetable dice, spicy onions, roasted pine nuts and raisins.
STEP 6 : Season with lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix carefully and set aside.
STEP 7 : Remove the excess fat around the Duck Magrets. Incise them from the skin side in braces or squares.
STEP 8 : Heat the plancha and place the Duck Breast on the skin side underneath. Let the fat melt for about 5 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Flip the duck breast on the flesh side and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cover the duck breast with aluminium foil and let stand for 5/7 minutes.
STEP 9 : Slice the duck breast.
STEP 10: Serve slices of duck breast with quinoa salad, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Foie gras in the spotlight at the 14th of July celebration in Brussels
Two days before the D-Day, France celebrated its National Day in Brussels on the occasion of a reception held in the magnificent Bozar art deco building, built by the renowned Belgian architect Victor Horta. Organised in collaboration with the Council of the New Aquitaine region, this prestigious event brought together many guests who were able to appreciate speeches delivered by the French high representatives, a musical program as well as local products. The New Aquitaine region being in the spotlight this year, South-West foie gras PGI (protected geographical indication)* was served for the pleasure of the guests’ taste buds. It was also an occasion to promote a product that is part of the French Protected Cultural and Gastronomic Heritage. “Europe must continue to support all our territories and the agricultural sector. On this national day, it is also these territories of our nation and the regions that we can celebrate,” concluded Isabelle Boudineau, Vice President of the Council of the New Aquitaine Region.
* The PGI is a European sign that guarantees the origin and quality of a product. South-West foie gras PGI (Chalosse, Gascony, Gers, Landes, Perigord, Quercy) offers the guarantee that the duck was raised and conditioned in the Southwest of France.