Animals in agriculture comprise over 98% of all animals raised and killed in the United States each year – over ten billion land animals alone. These animals also suffer some of the most prolonged and acute suffering of all animals, and are among the least legally protected. The vast majority of animal products are produced using industrial methods, confining large numbers of animals in small spaces for most or all of their lives, and routinely performing painful acts on these animals. Colloquially this has come to be known as “factory farming.” These practices not only impact the treatment of animals, but are also massive contributors to global climate change, pollution, resource consumption, world hunger, poor conditions for farm workers, and human health risks from infectious diseases. Eating animal products has also been strongly linked to some of the biggest killers of Americans, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The impact of industrial animal agriculture spans across social justice issues; developing a sophisticated understanding of this system is central to animal law as well as a variety of other social, political, and legal fields.
The farmed animal law field has grown rapidly and continues to evolve. A diverse set of legal tools has been used to accomplish tangible changes in farmed animal law and policy. These include criminal law, false advertising law, administrative law, unfair business practices, antitrust, corporate law, and constitutional law, among others. Significant changes have also been made at the legislative level, through the use of ballot initiatives and other tools. Students will be educated about animal law while touching on a variety of substantive areas of law, and taught to analyze them in the context of the dynamic and complex system of farmed animal law.