New York producers are claiming a victory after the New York State Legislature decided not to take up legislation brought forwarded by the Humane Society of the United States and other activist groups to ban gestation stalls.
“New York hog farmers are pleased the legislature realized there are far more critical issues to consider than attacking small family farms in rural New York,” said Ed Keller, president of the New York Pork Producers.
Similar efforts have been organized in other states, and while animal rights proponents have expended significant resources in numerous states, 41 states have refused to pass similar legislation into law. A similar measure was defeated in Connecticut in early May.
“Sure, the animal-rights groups had some early successes, but now that legislators are hearing both sides of the issue, they are choosing to allow the farmers to care for their animals the best way they can,” Keller said.
Dave Warner with the National Pork Producers Council told WNAX news that had the legislation been approved, it would have hurt both producers and consumers alike. Many producers, especially those on smaller operations, would have faced bankruptcy.
Warner says the decision means pork producers are free to use the best sow housing system for their own operations, including maternity pens, open housing or another system.
As JoAnn Alumbaugh, editor of PorkNetwork, wrote in a 2013 editorial, the housing issue is as simple as it is complex.
“Regardless of which housing system producers choose, the overriding constant is to provide the safest, most comfortable environment for pigs and the people who care for them,” she writes. “Sound animal welfare incorporates best management practices through proper training of employees, buildings that provide protection from the elements and equipment that is conducive to mindful oversight of the animals. Many U.S. housing systems, whether pens or stalls, easily fit this criteria.”
At the 2013 World Pork Expo, the Pork Checkoff looked at key points and costs to consider when looking at open sow housing or maternity pens. Read more here.