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May 9, 2012

Rhode Island House of Representatives Applauded for Passing Bill to Protect Farm Animals

Senate Agriculture Committee Urged to Swiftly Pass Measure to Prohibit the Cruel Confinement of Breeding Pigs and Veal Calves

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Rhode Island House of Representatives for passing H.7180, legislation that would prohibit the cruel and extreme confinement of veal calves and breeding pigs in crates so small they’re unable to even turn around for nearly their entire lives. The bill, introduced by Rep. Patricia Serpa, D-27, passed the House by a vote of 61 to 8. 

“The Rhode Island House of Representatives has sent the message that all animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food,” said Matt Dominguez, public policy manager for farm animal protection at The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to Representative Serpa for her leadership on this important animal protection policy. We now urge the Rhode Island Senate to move swiftly and pass this bill into law.”

Confining calves in veal crates and breeding pigs in gestation crates are two of the most inhumane factory farming practices, and eight states have passed laws to phase out these intensive confinement practices.  Major pork producers such as Smithfield and Hormel have committed to ending the use of gestation crates on company-owned farms by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free. The American Veal Association has committed to ending the use of veal crates by 2017.

“Preventing these abuses from becoming standard practices is vital to protecting our state’s most vulnerable animals and will better align Rhode Island’s animal protection laws with the values of Rhode Island's farmers, citizens, and consumers,” said Rep. Patricia Serpa, D-27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick, and H.7180 bill sponsor. 

Recently McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Compass Group and Safeway publicly committed to getting gestation crates out of their supply chains. Also, this week, an undercover investigation revealed shocking abuses of breeding sows in gestation crates at Wyoming Premium Farms, which is a supplier to Tyson Foods.

Facts:

  • In the pork industry, most breeding pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates. They’re then placed into another crate to give birth, after which they are re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate, pregnancy after pregnancy, until they are slaughtered. These crates are about two feet by seven feet, preventing the pigs from even turning around. It adds up to years of extreme confinement, to the point of virtual immobilization.
  • Calves raised for veal suffer nearly their entire lives inside individual crates, which like gestation crates, are so small the animals are unable to even turn around. These calves are often tethered by their necks for nearly their entire five-month lives.
  • Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, and Oregon have all passed laws to phase out these intensive confinement systems. In addition to Rhode Island, bills on this issue are currently pending in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Vermont.

Media Contacts:

Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1518

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