Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has signed into law HB 5127, which gives certain farm animals more flexibility in housing, and avoids a threatened ballot initiative by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

In effect, the law phases out veal crates for calves within three years, and battery cages for laying hens and certain uses of gestation crates for breeding sows within 10 years.

But Michigan Pork Producers Association (MPPA) Executive Vice President Sam Hines says MPPA’s compromise with HSUS and state agricultural groups provides some certainty for pork producers which may not have been the case with a ballot initiative.

In his view:

--Producers retain the use of stalls for farrowing, breeding and early gestation (until the sow is confirmed pregnant) that allows maximum care and productivity.

--Producers get 10 years to make the adjustment for use of gestation stalls, which he says would have been unlikely under a ballot initiative.

--Producers get a program administered by the state department of agriculture and violations designated as civil penalties rather than criminal misdemeanors as was the case with Proposition 2 passed in California.

--Producers don’t have to undergo audits and operate under a cumbersome livestock care committee.

“Basically, the agreement provided our producers a measure of certainty rather than leaving such an important decision to the whims of the voters in a ballot initiative,” Hines say.