On November 28, Governor Chris Christie vetoed New Jersey Senate bill S998 that would have banned the use of pig gestation crates in New Jersey, calling the proposed law “a solution in search of a problem.”
Undercover at Smithfield via the Humane Society.
A gestation crate immobilizes a pig in a metal cage barely larger than its body where the animal is repeatedly impregnated for the duration of its life. According to the Humane Society, “These pigs’ suffering is among the worst of all factory-farmed animals.” New Jersey farming operations contain 9,000 pigs, according to the USDA.
Critics say Christie vetoed the measure with an eye toward the Iowa presidential caucuses. Iowapork.org claims that its state is “the number one pork producing state in the U.S.” and home to “approximately 20 million pigs.” The Iowa pork industry pressured Christie to veto the measure as did Iowa governor Terry Barnstad, who called Christie “to tell him how bad I thought it would be and how the people that are involved in pork production, that really understand this, feel this would be very bad,” according to the Associated Press.
The bill earned widespread support nationally from animal welfare organizations, and throughout New Jersey, including 93% of citizens polled, the New Jersey Veterinarian’s Association and the state’s major newspapers. Last January, Smithfield and Tyson two of the nation’s largest pork producers, announced they are encouraging their suppliers to phase out the use of gestation crates in favor of group pens, citing increased criticism over the inhumane and unhealthy practice. Even Iowa pork suppliers will be “less likely” to have their contracts renewed, said Smithfield.
According to the Humane Society:
Nine U.S. states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, and Rhode Island—have passed laws to prohibit the use of gestation crates.
Some of the world’s largest food companies have announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Those companies include McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, SUBWAY, Oscar Mayer, Kroger, Safeway, Costco, Denny’s, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sodexo, Sysco, ARAMARK, Compass Group, Heinz, Campbell Soup, Baja Fresh, Wienerschnitzel, and Harris Teeter.
In his veto message, Christie wrote that the gestation crate ban was an attempt by the legislature to “replace the judgment of the state’s farming experts with its own” in order to please “misguided partisans and special interest groups.” It wouldn’t be a Christie message without mud slinging.
While acknowledging his presidential ambitions, we should also take Governor Christie at his word. Despite undeniable evidence to the contrary, and even the trend of the food service and pork industries, he maintains gestation crates are in keeping with “the humane raising, keeping, care and treatment” of livestock. Put another way, he simply doesn’t care.