News 487 views last update:Nov 7, 2008

Pork production practice banned in California

Expressing concern that a similar ban will be attempted in other states, the National Pork Producers Council decried yesterday's vote in California to prohibit the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs.

2015 implementation

Californians voted 63.2 to 36.8 percent in favour of Proposition 2, which will require that pregnant pigs, laying hens and calves raised for veal be kept in enclosures large enough that they can turn around and fully extend their limbs. Producers will have until Jan. 1, 2015, to change their housing systems.

“We are disappointed that the voters of California adopted a proposition outlawing a husbandry practice deemed appropriate by decades of farmer experience, as well as by university researchers and the nation's leading veterinarian association,” said NPPC President Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians recognise gestation stalls and group housing systems as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy. The groups also point out that the key factor that most affects animal well-being is husbandry skills – that is the care given to each animal.

“It is regrettable that animal-rights groups were successful in vilifying honest, hardworking farmers and ranchers who treat their animals humanely and provide them a safe, healthy environment in which to grow,” said Black.

Humane society backing
The ballot initiative was backed mainly by the Humane Society of the United States, which helped pass similar ballot initiatives in Arizona in 2006 and in Florida in 2002.

“California often is a bellwether, so it's likely this ban will be pushed in other states,” Black said. “We certainly don't expect the Humane Society to stop with California.”.

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