The New Jersey Senate has joined the state Assembly in passing a bill that prohibits the use of gestation crates for holding pregnant sows and calves being raised for veal, adding topspin to a drive for more humane but potentially costlier farming methods.
The measure now moves to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy, who is expected to sign it into law.
The bill stops short of outlawing the sale within the state of pork from pigs that were born to sows held in gestation crates, as mandated by a California law that was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The California measure broke new ground by effectively forcing pig farmers in other states to change their animal husbandry methods if they wanted to continue selling pork in the nation’s most populous state, which accounts for about 10% of all the pork sold in the U.S.
Opponents said the law would effectively create shortages of such pork staples as bacon and ribs within the state and would generally push up the cost of the proteins. They challenged the legislation on the grounds that California does not have the right under the U.S. Constitution to regulate the commerce methods of other states.
New Jersey’s bill only covers rearing methods within the state. It specifies that breeding sows and calves raised for veal be provided with enough pen space to turn around or lie down.
Pigs raised for their meat are not usually held in the crates. Calves raised for their meat, however, are often also kept in the structures, where they can only stand.
The measure was passed by the state Senate as agricultural interests scramble on a national basis to prevent the passage of state laws like the one that was challenged unsuccessfully in California.
Animal-rights groups have also pushed for laws requiring egg and poultry farmers to provide their hens with enough room to turn around in their cages.
“We must move past the era of immobilizing animals for years on end as a customary animal-rearing strategy, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Animal Wellness Action advocacy group, said in a statement. “Immobilization is a form of punishment and torment, not a responsible way to raise animals.”
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