The National Pork Producers Council this week urged New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to veto legislation that would dictate how hog producers in the state house their sows.
The bill, S.1921, was sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, and the Assembly companion bill sponsored by Assembly members Gilbert Wilson, D-Audubon, Marlene Caride, D-Ridgefield and Thomas Giblin, D-Clifton.
The Assembly bill passed 60 to 5 and Senate bill passed 29 to 4.
NPPC said the legislation was pushed by the Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights groups despite the fact that few of New Jersey's hog farmers use gestation stalls.
"The bill is a solution in search of a problem," said NPPC President-elect Dr. Howard Hill. "This is about HSUS using New Jersey to advance its national animal-rights agenda, and we hope Gov. Christie won't go along with it."
If approved, the New Jersey legislation would not match standards adopted in 2004 by the state's Department of Agriculture and upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2008.
"Decisions about animal well-being and housing should be determined by those who understand the animals and work with them every day," Hill said. "We urge Gov. Christie to veto this legislation and allow farmers and veterinarians to decide the best way to care for their animals."
NPPC points out the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians believe there is no scientific consensus on the best way to house gestating sows because each type of housing system has inherent advantages and disadvantages.
HSUS praised the decision, and urged signing of the bill.
"Kudos to the New Jersey Legislature for taking a strong stance against the inhumane practice of immobilizing breeding pigs for virtually their entire lives," said Kathleen Schatzmann, HSUS state director for New Jersey. "We thank Sen. Lesniak for his leadership on animal protection issues and urge Governor Chris Christie to pass this bill."