Foie Gras Sales May Continue in NYC While Ban Is Challenged in Court

·2 min read
Foie gras on a plate in a restaurant
Foie gras on a plate in a restaurant

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As with many polarizing subjects, the debate over foie gras is a constant push and pull between opposing sides. In California, the nearly two-decade-long legal battle of rulings and appeals since a ban was signed into law in 2004 seems to have settled into a precarious balance: The production and sale of foie gras within the state is banned, but California residents can purchase foie gras and have it shipped to them for personal use.

Now, New York City is finding itself in a similar tug of war. In 2019, the city council banned the sale of foie gras within its jurisdiction, with an official enforcement date of November 25, 2022. Two duck farms in New York's Sullivan County — La Belle and Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which together account for around 98 percent of domestic foie gras production — have challenged the law, and last week, they won a small but culinarily-significant decision: A judge issued an preliminary injunction which will allow the sale of foie gras to continue in the city beyond the 25th while the farmers' lawsuit looking to strike down the law works its way through the court system.

Though far from a decision on the validity of farmers' challenge to New York City's ban — a.k.a. Local Law 202 — the ruling, which came from the Supreme Court of New York, will at least allow foie gras to remain on fine dining menus and in city shops while the farmers await an official ruling on their challenge, which was filed earlier this year. And if dealing with that case ends up being a lengthy process, it opens up the possibility that this injunction could protect the sale of foie gras in the city for quite some time.

The two farms say that, between them, they employ about 400 workers in Sullivan County. "For La Belle, it's lifesaving," company president Sergio Saravia said. "We get to keep our workers employed and making a living, and we get to keep farming."

Marcus Henley, vice president of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, also chimed in, adding, "While the State's injunction offers a glimmer of hope to the hundreds of people employed by the farms and the community, we are still very much focused on the legal battle ahead of us."