Continuing the recent string of legislative defeats for the animal rights community, today New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would have banned the use of individual maternity pens for pregnant sows. The legislation was pushed by animal-rights groups despite the fact that few of New Jersey’s small number of hog farmers use such housing.
“This is a great example of a governor standing up to powerful lobbying groups on behalf of small, independent farmers,” says NPPC President-elect Howard Hill, DVM. a pork producer from Cambridge, IA. “America’s family hog farmers thank Gov. Christie for rejecting this bad legislation.”
The legislation was championed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other radical animal-rights activists even though 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. Those organizations long have recognized individual maternity pens as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.
“HSUS continues to drive this unreasonable legislation in states with little pork production in an attempt to push a national agenda, but states are starting to push back,” Hill says.
In rejecting the legislation, Christie said: “The proper balancing of humane treatment of gestation pigs with the interests of farmers whose livelihood depends on their ability to properly manage their livestock best rests with the state’s farming experts – the State Board [of Agriculture] and the Department [of Agriculture].”
The New Jersey Agriculture Department in 2004 adopted “Humane Standards” for livestock, and the state supreme court in 2008 upheld most of the standards, including a direct challenge of the regulations governing the treatment of gestating pigs.
The defeat in New Jersey was the latest in a series of setbacks for HSUS, which over the past 10 years has spent millions of dollars in states around the country to advance its radical agenda.
Very few states have enacted bans through ballot initiatives or through the legislative process because of the negative impacts such prohibitions would have had on local pork producers. Most recently, the legislatures in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont chose not to pass measures banning individual maternity pens.