Arizona voters passed Proposition 204 on Tuesday. This means that as of December 2012, the use of gestation-sow and veal crates will no longer be allowed in the state. The measure passed by 62 percent of the votes. It does allow for the use of crates provided they are large enough for animals to turn around and fully extend their limbs.
Farm Sanctuary and the Humane Society of the United States backed the proposition. Opposition came from an agricultural coalition called Campaign for Arizona Farmers and Ranchers. State and national pork producer groups lent support, as did other agricultural commodity groups.
"We are disappointed that the voters of Arizona 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 veterinary association," says Joy Philippi, National Pork Producers Council president.
NPPC is worried that similar initiatives will spread to other states and the 2007 Farm Bill. Florida voters passed a similar measure in 2002. Interestingly, those voters just this week passed an initiative to make it much more difficult to amend the state's constitution. That measure would have prevented the gestation-sow crate ban there. Early rumblings point to California as been a next possible battleground state for the gestation-crate issue.
It's worth noting that there are no veal producers in Arizona. According to the most recent U.S. Census, the state has a total of 168 farms with hog/pigs sold. Of those farms, 94 percent (157) sell less than 100 hogs annually: threesold more than 1,000 head.
Philippi points out that death threats were sent to CAFR members. Also, the Arizona Cattleman's Association offices were vandalized shortly before the election. The incidents were reported to the FBI.
“We were shocked and dismayed that animal-rights extremists resorted to threatening people who opposed this ill-advised new law,” says Philippi. “There is never room for threats or violence in the democratic process, and we support the FBI in its investigation and prosecution of these unlawful acts.”
The legislation would make a person guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if a veal calf or pregnant pig is confined in a manner that prevents the animal from lying down and fully extending its limbs or turning around freely. Violators could be subject to fines of up to
$20,000 and six months in prison.
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