Dozens of goose boosters rallied at City Hall Tuesday in support of a bill that would ban foie gras — as upstate farmers squawked that they stand to lose the big bucks if the measure passes.
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Supporters of the bill told City Council members during a hearing that they want to make it illegal for Big Apple eateries to serve the goose-and-duck liver delicacy on the basis of animal cruelty, saying the birds are “barbarically” force-fed to fatten them up.
“We are not killing for consumption in its natural form. We are torturing an animal in order to alter it into a disease state, so we can satisfy our addiction to taste,” Andrew Kaplan, a New York City-based veterinary internal medicine specialist, said at the hearing Tuesday.
He added, “Make no mistake, this is an addiction because this type of ‘food’ is neither healthy for consumers, nor is it reconcilable with what must be done to the geese in order to produce it.”
Dozens of the animal rights activists also gathered on the steps of City Hall to cheer the legislation.
But farmers insisted the birds are humanely raised — and good for the Empire State’s economy.
“[They] are very calm and there is no distress,” said Marcus Henley, who manages Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale. He urged City Council members to visit the farm and see for themselves.
The farm, which earns roughly one-third of its profits from Big Apple diners, may be forced to close if the legislation passes, he said.
“This bill would be devastating to our people and the economy of Sullivan County,” Henley said, noting the farm employees 400 people.
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Nelson Savaria Jr., who runs the La Belle Farm nearby, added, “While I understand some people have concerns with the treatment of ducks, I can assure you that if the mistreatment of ducks was part of our jobs, none of us would be here and our farm would be out of business.”
In January, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan) introduced the bill to ban all city restaurants and vendors from serving the controversial French pate. Violators face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
At the hearing Tuesday, a rep for the Mayor Bill de Blasio said he “supports the intent” of the bill.
“This administration has always demonstrated a strong commitment to animal welfare, and we know birds can suffer tremendously in the production of foie gras. That is why we support the intent of [the legislation],” said Christine Kim, a senior community liaison for the mayor. “We encourage the City Council to explore the impacts of this proposal.”
Since January, 23 of the city’s 51 Council members have agreed to back the bill.