Comprehensive standards for farm animal care are one step closer to state law in Michigan. Redrafted House Bills 5127 and 5128 were passed by the Michigan House Agriculture Committee Thursday.

The bills provide a solid framework to assure consumers that Michigan livestock have been raised with the highest safety and accountability standards. The re-drafted bills address previous objections raised by opponents. 

The bills are meant to address consumers' concerns following food recalls, but farm lobbyists hope they also will head off more stringent regulations like the ballot measures recently passed in California and two other states.

The Humane Society of the United States has threatened a 2010 ballot issue in Michigan — saying calves raised for veal, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens should have enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs. The group says it considers current practices allowed by the legislation inhumane.

The Legislation would put into law voluntary industry guidelines for farm animals' care — ranging from how much living space they need to slaughter practices — and require audits of livestock farms. A 12-member council would review and possibly recommend updated animal care standards at least every five years.

“We appreciate the leadership of Chairman Mike Simpson and the members of the House Agriculture Committee for moving these significant bills forward,” says Wayne H. Wood, Michigan Farm Bureau president . “Our coalition looks forward to working with the House of Representatives to advance this legislation which stands to make Michigan a national leader in comprehensive farm animal care.”

From their initial introduction, the bills have had the support of MDA and coalition members:

  • Dairy Farmers of America.
  • GreenStone Farm Credit Services.
  • Michigan Agri-Business Association.
  • Michigan Allied Poultry Industries.
  • Michigan Cattlemen's Association.
  • Michigan Corn Growers Association.
  • Michigan Equine Partnership.
  • Michigan Farm Bureau.
  • Michigan Milk Producers Association.
  • Michigan Pork Producers Association.
  • Michigan Sheep Breeders Association.
  • Michigan Soybean Association.
  • Michigan Veterinary Medical Association.

Sources: Michigan Farm Bureau; Dairyherd.com; Associated Press contributed to this article