Michael Ginor, co-founder of the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Farm, says they started producing about 600 ducks a week and have since grown to produce about 7,000 foie gras ducks a week.
New York City Council proposed a ban on the sale of foie gras in city restaurants, threatening Ginor's progress and farms like his, should it pass
“Should the ban go through and should it not be reversed clearly this farm would cease to exist there,” Ginor said. “There would virtually be no foie gras left in the United States.”
On Ginor's farm, the ducks are reared from hatchlings in heated, climate-controlled rooms until they are old enough to begin the process of ‘gavage’ — in which they are force-fed so their livers get to a fatty consistency prized by foie gras lovers.
Hudson Valley Foie Gras says the practice is not inhumane or cruel.
“The esophagus is very tough to allow them to eat the foods they do, so the tube it doesn’t affect them as it would affect humans for example. It doesn’t cause them any stress or discomfort,” said Marcus Henley, the farm’s general manager.
“They’re fed for a period of 20 days by hand; we use a rubber tube about six inches long, which is very similar to the process in what a mother bird would do in feeding.”
But PETA and other animal rights groups say otherwise.
PETA says it conducted an investigation on the farm in 2013 and found ducks were injured and harmed by rough handling during the feeding process and many of the ducks would die after their organs burst from overfeeding.
“There is no single piece of evidence that would point to the fact these ducks are stressed, are not cared for properly, are injured, so all I can say to the critics is first of all you’re welcome to visit,” Ginor said.
The farm employs over 450 people and many of them are worried about what will happen to them if the farm closes. Jorge Romero, one of the farm hands, says if the farm shuts down he worries about how to support his family if he loses his job.
The NYC council could vote on the proposal to ban foie gras this coming fall. Mayor deBlasio says he supports the proposal.