Editor's Note: The following article originally appeared in the June issue of PorkNetwork.
America’s pork producers recently expressed gratitude for the Connecticut General Assembly’s fortitude. State legislators stood with local family farmers in defeating legislation that would have banned the use of gestation stalls, a safe and humane form of housing for pregnant sows.
According to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the vast majority of independent pork producers use gestation stalls to house pregnant sows because they allow for individualized care and eliminate aggression from other sows. The housing method is approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.
As Connecticut family farmers stood up for their right to farm, the misguided legislation failed on multiple fronts, including in the legislature’s Environment Committee, which removed stall-ban language from a bill that would create a livestock care board. Farmers across the state rallied for their right to farm, attending hearings and submitting comments. Animal-rights groups hired out-of-state volunteers to lobby the assembly.
“Wealthy animal-rights groups appear to have a bumpy road ahead of them after so many failed legislative attempts to criminalize farmers for using humane farming practices,” says Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, who is immediate past-president of NPPC. “The outlook for their future state-level crusades against local family farmers, thankfully, is grim.”
The defeat in Connecticut is one in a series of state-level failures for animal-rights groups, which have pushed gestation stall bans in states with little agriculture production. In the process, these groups have spent exorbitant amounts of their donors’ contributions.
Activist groups have used the few wins they have had in the past to pressure food companies to take similar stands, without telling them those states represent a very small percentage of the nation’s pork producers. That strategy has lost its effectiveness with the recent defeats of their initiatives.
“The legislative power of animal-rights groups is waning as state after state has stood up in favor of local farmers,” says Hill. “These groups are introducing the same legislation in the same states and being served defeat after defeat.”