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May 13, 2013

New Jersey Legislature Overwhelmingly Passes Bill to Protect Pigs

New Jersey Senate and Assembly Applauded for Votes to Prohibit Inhumane Confinement of Breeding Pigs in Gestation Crates

The New Jersey legislature has voted by landslide margins to ban the extreme confinement of breeding pigs in crates so small, they prevent the animals from even turning around for nearly their entire lives. The vote earned applause from The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals and the ASPCA.  

The bill, S.1921, was sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, and the Assembly companion bill sponsored by Assemblyman Gilbert Wilson, D-Audubon, Assemblywoman Marlene Caride, D-Ridgefield and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, D-Clifton. They overwhelmingly passed the Assembly by a vote of 60 to 5 and Senate by a vote of 29 to 4. The legislation now goes to Gov. Chris Christie for his signature.

S.1921 would require that breeding pigs be able to at least stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs. In the pork industry, the vast majority of breeding pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates--cages roughly the size as the animals’ bodies. The pigs are then placed into another crate to give birth, are re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization. 

A statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research reveals 89 percent of New Jersey voters support Gov. Christie signing the bill into law. 

Kathleen Schatzmann, New Jersey state director for The HSUS said: “Kudos to the New Jersey Legislature for taking a strong stance against the inhumane practice of immobilizing breeding pigs for virtually their entire lives. We thank Sen. Lesniak for his leadership on animal protection issues and urge Governor Chris Christie to pass this bill.”

Bruce Friedrich, senior director for strategic initiatives at Farm Sanctuary, said: “This decision from New Jersey’s legislature is further evidence that these cruel systems have no future. Cramming animals into crates so small that they can’t even turn around is horribly abusive. These systems have no place in a just society.”

Debora Bresch, Esq., senior state director of government relations, mid-Atlantic region, at the ASPCA said: “Other states have already acted to prohibit inhumane confinement of pigs in gestation crates, and we’re glad New Jersey is following suit. We appreciate the legislature's commitment to more humane confinement of breeding pigs and look forward to the governor’s support.”

Nathan Runkle, executive director for Mercy For Animals, said: “Mercy For Animals applauds New Jersey for taking this important step to outlaw the cruel confinement of pregnant pigs, one of the worst forms of factory farm cruelty.”

Facts:

  • Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and the entire European Union have passed legislation to outlaw gestation crates because they are inhumane.
  • World-renowned animal scientist and meat industry advisor Temple Grandin, Ph.D., states: “Gestation crates for pigs are a real problem... Basically, you’re asking a sow to live in an airline seat ... I think it’s something that needs to be phased out.”
  • More than 100 New Jersey-based veterinarians signed on to a letter expressing support for A.3250/S.1921.
  • The Star-Ledger, New Jeresey’s largest paper, editorialized in support of A.3250/S.1921, stating “[a]nother bill pending in the state Assembly would simply require that mother pigs at least be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs. That’s basic decency.”
  • The Times of Trenton featured an op-ed by former dean of the School of Communication and Information Science at Rutgers University in support of A.3250/S.1921, stating “[t]he Assembly should move swiftly toward passage and put the bill on the governor’s desk. Imagine the outcry if dogs or cats were subjected to such treatment.”
  • Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free. Meanwhile, many family farmers have been raising pigs without the use of gestation crates for generations.
  • Leading food companies like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Safeway, Burger King and more than 40 others have publicly committed to eliminate intensive confinement crates from their supply chain.
  • Click here to see a commercial in support of the bill that aired across the state.  

Media Contacts:

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

Farm Sanctuary: Meredith Turner, mturner@farmsanctuary.org, 646-369-6212

ASPCA: Maureen Linehan, maureen.linehan@aspca.org, 646-291-4602

Mercy For Animals: Vandhana Bala, vandhanab@mercyforanimals.org, 312-909-6051

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