NJ Governor Chris Christie has until early December to sign a bill banning gestation crates, the small cages that house sows (female breeding pigs) for most of their adult lives. According to the National Pork Producers Council, nine out of 10 sows in America are held in gestation crates.
Governor Christie vetoed a similar bill in 2013, claiming that pig farmers made a more persuasive argument than the activists. HSUS’ Matt Dominguez said his decision could have been based on political expedience: “The governor’s veto last year had more to do with presidential politics given that Iowa, the nation’s biggest pork production state, hosts the Republican caucuses come 2016.” The landscape, however, has changed. According to Dominguez, polls in Iowa show that voters “would think more highly, not less, of Christie if he signs this bill.”
Jane Velez-Mitchell reports on the status of the gestation crate bill in NJ:
Several public figures have spoken out in support of a ban. In 2013, lifestyle maven Martha Stewart sent a letter to NJ lawmakers asking them to override Christie’s veto: “These animals have committed no crime, yet they’re treated worse than even the most violent criminals would be treated.” In a recent NY Times op-ed, political commentator Bill Maher makes a public appeal to Christie to pass the new bill: “Would you cram a dog into a crate for her entire life, never letting her out, until you took her to the pound to kill her?”
In a NY Times op-ed in February, writer Nicholas Kristof said, “These are tiny stalls that are barely bigger than the pigs, who don’t even have enough room to turn around. They live out their adult lives without exercise or meaningful social interaction; it’s like a life sentence of solitary confinement in a coffin, punctuated by artificial insemination and birth.”
In August, a bill to ban the crates failed to pass in Massachusetts. In an industry journal, local hog farmer Lisa Colby declared a victory for “the rights of local farmers” and for “farmers’ choices in taking care of their animals.” Agribusiness justifies the use of crates by claiming that they “allow for individualized care and eliminate aggression from other sows.”