Last week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy officially signed into law a ban on the extreme confinement of breeding pigs and calves raised for veal. The win comes after nearly a decade of efforts to ban gestation and veal crates in the state.
Attempts to ban gestation and veal crates in New Jersey began ten years ago, when a similar bill overwhelmingly passed both chambers but was vetoed by then-Governor Chris Christie. A year later in 2014, a new version of the bill easily passed the House and Senate but was vetoed a second time by Governor Christie.
This year, the bill garnered overwhelming support from nonprofit organizations, local farmers, and the state Farm Bureau. The bill passed the Senate and the Assembly almost unanimously.
Gestation crates, sometimes also known as "sow stalls," are metal crates or cages, usually with a bare, slatted floor, which is so narrow that the sow cannot turn around and can only stand up and lie down with difficulty. Pregnant pigs are often kept in gestation crates for their entire 4-month pregnancy. Scientific research shows that gestation crates cause physical and psychological suffering to sows, including lameness due to weaker bones and muscles, abrasion injuries, cardiovascular problems, digestive problems, and urinary tract problems.
Gestation crates also increase abnormal behavior such as sham chewing and bar-biting, indicating severe frustration and stress, and sows in crates can exhibit behavior likened to clinical depression.
Similarly, veal crates are narrow crates or stalls intended to prevent calves from interacting with each other, depriving them of the socialization calves need to be happy and healthy.
"As the Garden State, agriculture is at the heart of New Jersey's identity," said Governor Murphy. "Ensuring that we are following humane farming practices and that farm animals are treated with care, rather than kept in enclosures so small they are immobilized, is a reflection of our values."
“When animals suffer, we all suffer,” said Allie Molinaro, Campaigns Manager at CIWF, “as both a farmed animal welfare professional and a New Jersey native, I am proud to see the Garden State take this affirmative step to protect animals from cruelty and safeguard both animals and humans from disease.”
New Jersey is now the 11th state to ban gestation crates and the 10th state to ban veal crates. We hope that this victory will inspire more states to transition away from cages and crates toward higher welfare requirements for farmed animals.