The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has joined the New York Pork Producers and America’s hog farmers in hailing the New York Legislature for its positive action in not banning individual maternity pens for pregnant sows.

NPPC says the measure could have had a devastating effect on local sustainable agriculture in New York by forcing farmers to abandon this humane animal housing system. It is the latest in a string of recent victories on the East Coast for America’s pork producers.  

Several small farmers in New York use individual maternity pens for pregnant sows, because they allow for individualized care and eliminate aggression from other sows. If passed, the measure would have forced local farmers to abandon such housing, resulting in financial damage and potentially ruining a safe and sustainable source of food for the state’s consumers.

The legislation was pushed by the activist lobbying group, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and other radical animal-rights groups even though, if approved, it would have prevented farmers from caring for their animals in a way approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Both organizations recognize individual maternity pens as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.

“This is about HSUS using New York to advance its national agenda, regardless of the negative impact it would have on the health and safety of the animals and the small independent farmers who care for them,” says New York pork producer John Lash.

Over the past 10 years, HSUS has lobbied other states to pass bans on individual maternity pens. While a few states have enacted bans through ballot initiatives, few state legislatures have approved such a prohibition because of the negative impacts it would have on local producers.  

“Decisions about animal well-being and housing should be determined by those who understand the animals and work with them every day,” Lash says.

In early June, the Connecticut Legislature turned back a bill to ban the use of gestation stalls for sows.

“The bill was a solution in search of a problem,” says NPPC President-Elect Howard Hill, DVM, an Iowa hog farmer. “This is about HSUS using Connecticut to advance its national vegan agenda, and we thank the Connecticut Legislature for not going along with it.

“This is the latest defeat for HSUS; momentum against these ill-advised measures is building,” Hill says. “Similar legislation was also recently defeated in New Hampshire and Vermont.

“Decisions about animal well-being and housing should be determined by those who understand the animals and work with them every day,” he says.