Legislation backed by the Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights groups has been "put down". And New York pork producers plus the National Pork Producers Council are breathing a sigh of relief.
New York State legislators rejected legislation banning the use of individual maternity pens for pregnant sows. The measure could have had a devastating effect on local sustainable agriculture in New York by forcing farmers to abandon this humane animal housing system, suggests Pork Producer John Lash from Depew, N.Y.
Farmers use individual maternity pens for pregnant sows because they allow for individualized care and eliminate aggression from other sows, explains Lash. If passed, the measure would have forced local farmers to abandon such housing, resulting in financial damage and potentially ruining a safe and sustainable local source of food for consumers.
If approved, the legislation would have prevented farmers from caring for their animals in a way approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Both organizations recognize individual maternity pens as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.
"This is about HSUS using New York to advance its national agenda, regardless of the negative impact it would have on the health and safety of the animals and the small independent farmers who care for them." says Lash. "Decisions about animal well-being and housing should be determined by those who understand the animals and work with them every day."
Over the past 10 years, HSUS has lobbied other states to pass bans on individual maternity pens. While a few states have enacted bans through ballot initiatives, few state legislatures have approved such a prohibition because of the negative impacts on local producers.