Hudson Valley Foie Gras: An Industrial Foie Gras Factory Farm

Hudson Valley Foie Gras (HVFG) is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) located in Ferndale, NY. According to documents, HVFG is permitted to confine up to 138,000 ducks, generates 3,090 tons of manure, 500 tons of litter and bedding, and 1,500,000 gallons of wastewater. An aerial view of HVFG shows that it is an industrial factory farm, not a small family farm.

HVFG aerial view.png

 Facts about HVFG:

  • The New York Times exposed HVFG for exploiting and abusing their undocumented workers: “Animal-rights advocates have made a big deal about the way the ducks are force-fed to produce the enormously swollen livers from which the foie gras is made. But I’ve been looking at the plight of the underpaid, overworked and often gruesomely exploited farmworkers who feed and otherwise care for the ducks. Their lives are hard. The workers have no right to a day off or overtime pay. They don’t get any paid vacation or sick days. When I asked one worker if he knew of anyone who had a retirement plan, he laughed and laughed.”

  • HVFG violated its Clean Water Act obligations on many occasions and in numerous ways. In a strongly worded opinion, the court issued an injunction against further Clean Water Act violations by HVFG, ordered HVFG to hire an expert and take remedial action, declared that HVFG will be fined $25,000 per day per violation for further violations, and ordered HVFG to pay $50,000 for an environmental project on the Middle Mongaup River—the final resting place for HVFG’s water pollution.

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Water, sent HVFG a notice of violation in 2012.

  • On September 5, 2018, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Water, conducted a comprehensive inspection of HVFG to determine the compliance with SPDES General Permit for CAFOs and found the overall rating for HVFG “unsatisfactory.” They identified more than half a dozen violation.

  • HVFG tried to define itself as “The Humane Choice” in its promotional materials while brutalizing ducks for gourmet profits. Their false advertising violated state and federal laws by telling consumers force-fed foie gras was “humane.” HVFG removed its deceptive “humane” language.

  • COK (Compassion Over Killing) goes undercover inside Hudson Valley Foie Gras. What he documented can only be described as a torture chamber for birds—from pipes being shoved down their throats and food pumped into their stomachs to being grabbed by their wings, shackled upside down, and their throats slit.

  • A PETA investigation at Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York (previously called “Commonwealth Enterprises”) found that a single worker was expected to force-feed 500 birds three times each day. The pace meant that they often treated the birds roughly and left them injured and suffering. So many ducks died from ruptured organs resulting from overfeeding that workers who killed fewer than 50 birds per month were given a bonus. A worker told a PETA investigator that he could feel tumor-like lumps, caused by force-feeding, in some ducks’ throats. One duck had a maggot-ridden neck wound so severe that water spilled out of it when he drank.

  • Another PETA investigation at Hudson Valley in 2013 documented that prior to the force-feeding period, young ducks were crammed by the thousands into huge warehouse-like sheds in conditions that are virtually identical to those for “broiler” chickens and turkeys on factory farms. Ducks who were being force-fed were confined, up to a dozen at a time, to a pen measuring just 4 feet by 6 feet. PETA’s investigator saw workers drag ducks by their necks along the wire floor and pin them between their legs before ramming the metal force-feeding tubes down their throats.

  • The New York Times exposed HVFG again for poor working conditions and failing to give workers days off. ''The conditions for the workers are crueler than the conditions for the ducks,'' said Maura Gonzales Rusas, a feeder. ''It's hard work, it's heavy work, and we never seem to get to rest.''

  • Mercy for Animals releases shocking hidden-camera video of intentional animal torture secretly recorded at HVFG. MFA’s undercover investigator documented a culture of cruelty at HVFG, including: Workers violently shoving metal pipes down ducks’ throats, dead ducks—killed by the cruel force-feeding process—callously thrown away into trash bins, birds with open, bleeding wounds left to suffer without proper veterinary care, and fully conscious ducks being shackled upside down and having their throats cut open.

  • The Better Business Bureau found the claims made by HVFG and their paid consultant Lawrence Bartoff to constitute false advertising

  • Dr. Ward Stone, the former senior wildlife pathologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, has conducted necropsies on ducks who died during force feeding at Hudson Valley Foie Gras and writes, "I eat meat including ducks on occasion. However, the short tortured lives of ducks raised for Foie Gras is well outside the norm of farm practice. Having seen the pathology that occurs from Foie Gras Production, I strongly recommend that this process be outlawed."

  Photos of Hudson Valley Foie Gras massive manure pit and tank