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October 1, 2009

Michigan Legislature Passes Historic Farm Animal Welfare Measure

Michigan Humane Society, The HSUS, Farm Sanctuary Urge Governor to Sign Compromise Bill to Improve Treatment of Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

The Michigan House of Representatives gave final approval today to landmark legislation that's the result of extensive negotiations between humane groups and the state's agricultural industry. The new law will require that egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves must be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs, rather than being confined in cages that permit very limited movement. 

H.B. 5127 gained support in both the House and Senate, with the House approving it 87-20 and the Senate approving it 36-0. The House concurred today with the Senate version of the bill by a vote of 86-22. Animal welfare groups — including the Michigan Humane Society, The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary — applaud state lawmakers, agricultural groups and environmental groups for supporting the measure to make Michigan a farm animal welfare leader.

The law phases out veal crates for calves within three years, and battery cages for laying hens and gestation crates for breeding sows within 10 years. The state has more than ten million laying hens, approximately 100,000 breeding pigs and is ranked by the Cattleman's Beef Board as a top veal-producing state (no official numbers are available).

With the governor's signature, Michigan will become the seventh state to ban gestation crates, the fifth to ban veal crates and the second to ban battery cages. Arizona, California and Florida have passed similar measures through ballot initiatives, and Maine, Colorado and Oregon have passed related laws in their state legislatures.

"With this measure, stakeholders from all sides came together to advance basic animal welfare concerns," stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "Through cooperation, progress for farm animals can indeed belong to everyone."

"This law represents modest yet important advancements for farm animals in our state," said Michigan Humane Society President Cal Morgan. "I want to extend my gratitude to Reps. Pamela Byrnes and Mike Simpson for their leadership in bringing the parties together to forge a reasonable compromise."

Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, remarked, "Giving animals at least enough room to turn around and extend their limbs is something we can all support. We applaud the legislature for passing this important reform."

Facts:

  • Major national retailers like Wendy's, Safeway, Burger King, Red Robin, Carl's Jr. and Hardees are increasingly phasing in crate-free and cage-free products due to consumer demand for better animal welfare.
  • Scientific research confirms the welfare problems with battery cages, veal crates and gestation crates.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) is Michigan's oldest and largest animal welfare organization, providing animal rescue, cruelty investigation, sheltering and care for over 130 years. MHS care services reach more than 100,000 animals each year. MHS is a leader in promoting humane values and in legislative advocacy for animals in Michigan. Contact MHS at 1-866-MHUMANE or visit michiganhumane.org.

Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the "food animal" industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and refuge efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif., provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory farming. Additional information can be found at farmsanctuary.org or by calling 607-583-2225. Follow Farm Sanctuary on Twitter.

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