Sow stall ban fails in New York, vetoed in New Jersey

Published on: Jun 27, 2013

The New York Legislature did not approve legislation that would have prohibited the use of gestation stalls for pregnant sows, according to an announcement from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

At the same time, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on June 27 vetoed a measure that did pass in the New Jersey Assembly that prohibited the use of gestation stalls (Feedstuffs, May 20).

A gestation stall confines a sow in a space in which the animal can only lie down and stand up, without room to turn or walk around.

However, NPPC noted that 83% of U.S. pork producers use stalls because they allow for individualized animal care and prevent aggressive behavior among sows (Feedstuffs, June 11, 2012).

The council said both group pens and stalls are approved by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and American Veterinary Medical Assn., which recognize that both housing types have advantages and disadvantages for animal care and welfare.

NPPC said had the Connecticut legislation passed or had the New Jersey legislation been signed into law, the measures would have led to "financial damage" for local producers.

Decisions about animal care and housing "should be determined" by livestock producers who care for their animals every day, said NPPC president-elect Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and director of animal well-being for Iowa Select Farms.

Christie, in his veto message, similarly said the "proper balancing" of the humane treatment of livestock with the interests of producers whose livelihoods depend on the care and welfare of their animals "rests with the state's farming experts" at the agricultural board and in the agricultural department.

The New York and New Jersey bills were championed by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal rights organizations that NPPC said are attempting to drive national agendas by pushing "unreasonable legislation" in states with little pork production.

New Jersey, for instance, is ranked 39th of 50 states in pork production and finishes just 25,000 market hogs per year.

Hill commended Christie "for standing up to powerful lobbying organizations" like HSUS on behalf of the state's farmers.

The Connecticut General Assembly also rejected similar legislation as New York (Feedstuffs, June 10).

Similar measures have not been approved in New Hampshire and Vermont.