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Duck Farm Is on Capitol Agenda

The owner's production of foie gras is the focus of legislation that would ban force-feeding of the birds, decried as cruel.

July 07, 2004|Gabrielle Banks | Times Staff Writer

In the one-intersection orchard town of Farmington, legions of long-necked Moulard ducks outnumber humans nearly 100 to 1. Workers at Gonzalez's ranch feed the mature birds twice daily, sliding a 12-inch pipe down their necks and pumping a corn mixture directly into their digestive systems.

After about two weeks, their underbellies visibly sag and their feathers become dark and sticky. Then, farm supervisor Eric Delmas explained, "they are given their last meal" and shipped to the slaughterhouse. Their livers are removed, packaged and delivered to distributors and restaurants.

Bradley, the poultry specialist, has consistently given the farm high marks for "bird management."

Gonzalez said fatty liver is a cultural staple in France and other European countries, but he said he and his two French American partners respect people who prefer not to eat meat: "We are in a multicultural society and everybody has to respect other people's choices."

Over the course of this year, Gonzalez has developed a theory about the animal rights movement in the United States.

Urbanization has left most people out of touch with farming practices, and Disney films have only exacerbated the problem, he said. "People have been raised in this country to think all ducks are Donald, all mice are Mickey, all deer are Bambi."

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