New Report Examines Humane Slaughter Enforcement at Federal, State Level

Thursday, April 6, 2017

New Report Examines Humane Slaughter Enforcement at Federal, State LevelWashington, DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) released today a new report, “Humane Slaughter Update: Federal and State Oversight of the Welfare of Farm Animals at Slaughter.” Key findings of the report—which examines Humane Methods of Slaughter Act enforcement by federal and state departments of agriculture—include the following:

  • Federal and state humane slaughter enforcement continues to rise, but the level of enforcement varies dramatically by state.
  • Repeat violators present a major enforcement problem.
  • Federal and state inspection personnel continue to demonstrate unfamiliarity with humane slaughter enforcement rules, as evidenced by their failure to take appropriate enforcement actions, particularly in response to egregious violations.
  • Humane slaughter enforcement remains low in comparison with other aspects of food safety enforcement.


The report assigns a grade, from A to F, to each of the 27 state-operated meat inspection programs, based on how well it enforces the federal humane slaughter law. AWI is providing each of the state programs a copy of the report and specific details about the program’s standing. Louisiana, which received an F, stands at the bottom of the rankings due to its failure to take any enforcement action for inhumane slaughter in over 12 years. In light of this failure, AWI is urging the USDA to revoke its cooperative agreement with the state.

AWI further recommends that the USDA and/or the state departments of agriculture

  • significantly increase allocation of resources to humane handling and slaughter activities;
  • establish a policy of escalating penalties to address repeat violators;
  • cooperate with state and local law enforcement agencies in the pursuit of criminal animal cruelty charges for incidents of willful animal abuse;
  • make additional slaughter plant inspection records, including noncompliance records, available to the public on its website; and
  • revise the federal humane slaughter regulations to address the most common causes of violations.


This report presents the findings of a survey of federal and state enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act conducted by AWI covering January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2015. The data used to analyze humane slaughter enforcement was obtained from numerous public record requests submitted to federal and state departments of agriculture and from records posted on the USDA website.

To view the full report, visit http://awionline.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/AWI-FA-HumaneSlaughterReport-2017.pdf.

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Media Contacts:    
Amey Owen, (202) 446-2128, amey@awionline.org