Unhappy Cows and Unfair Competition: Using Unfair Competition Laws to Fight Farm Animal Abuse


Most farm animals suffer for the entirety of their lives, both on the farm and at the slaughterhouse. While there are state and federal laws designed to protect these animals from abuse, such laws are rarely enforced by the public officials who have the authority to do so. Animal advocacy groups have taken matters into their own hands by utilizing state unfair competition laws, including California Business and Professions Code section 17200. Section 17200 is a state version of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive business practices. Such "Little FTC Acts" exist in every state and are, for the most part, very similar. Thus, while this Comment focuses on section 17200, its reasoning is applicable to other states as well. This Comment explores the many ways in which unfair competition laws, namely section 17200, may be employed to protect farm animals. The passage of Proposition 64 by California voters in November 2004, which added a standing requirement for section 17200 plaintiffs, has curtailed the scope of the statute significantly. This Comment argues, however, that section 17200 can still be used to protect farm animals, through the use of humane competitors and individual consumers as plaintiffs.

About the Author

Editor, UCLA Law Review, Volume 52. J.D. candidate, UCLA School of Law, 2005; B.A., UCLA, 2002.

By uclalaw