Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Jersey Bill (AB 2649) Put Forth to Weaken Farm Animal Protection Laws

I post this as a service to NJ residents who would be concerned with this bill, but also as a heads up to the many challenges that can spring forth from legislatures this year.


Farm Sanctuary Announces Opposition to New Jersey Bill (AB 2649) Intended to Weaken Farm Animal Protection Laws


Bill Undermines Efforts to Protect Farm Animals from Inhumane Treatment in
New Jersey, Allowing Agribusiness to Police Itself

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Farm Sanctuary,
the nation's leading farm animal protection organization, today announced
its opposition to Assembly Bill 2649 (AB 2649). This bill would prevent
local law enforcement from investigating farm animal cruelty cases without
the interference of agribusiness, thus allowing the industry to police
itself. Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D) introduced legislation that would
eliminate the authority of SPCAs and local law enforcement to initiate
charges against individuals or companies regarding the treatment of farm
animals without first deferring to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture
(NJDA). The NJDA is currently involved in a legal case challenging its
"humane" standards, which codify and label cruel factory farming practices
as "humane."

Under AB 2649, the following changes to existing law would be made:
Local SPCAs and law enforcement agencies must defer to NJDA before
animal cruelty charges can be filed in cases involving livestock. Criminal
charges may only be initiated if NJDA deems a violation to have occurred.
Farm animals, with the exception of those kept as companion animals, are
universally exempted from protection from abuse of any kind under the
state's animal cruelty law.

All "livestock incidents" must be reported to livestock inspectors, who
have no law enforcement authority, rather than to law enforcement officers.

"The NJDA has consistently acted to maintain the agribusiness status
quo at the expense of animal welfare," said Gene Baur, president of Farm
Sanctuary. "If this bill were to pass into law, the industry would be given
further authority to police itself and farm animals would be left without
basic protection under the law."

On December 13, 2006, the New Jersey Superior Court heard oral
arguments in the case of Farm Sanctuary, et al. vs. NJDA and all parties
currently await a decision. Farm Sanctuary alleges that NJDA has failed to
establish humane standards for farm animals as required by the New Jersey
legislature in 1996.

Currently NJDA allows multiple inhumane farming practices including:
Confining pregnant pigs for months at a time in gestation crates,
individual metal enclosures too small for them to turn around; Tethering
and restrictively confining calves raised for veal to prevent them from
exercising, so their muscles can't develop and remain soft; and Mutilations
without anesthesia, including castration, debeaking, detoeing and tail
Plaintiffs in the case challenging the NJDA's "humane" standards, which
codify cruel farming practices include Farm Sanctuary, the New Jersey
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Humane Society of the
United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,
Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Welfare Advocacy, Saving Our Resources
Today, Center for Food Safety, the Organic Consumers Association, farmers
and citizens.

About Farm Sanctuary
Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection
organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to
expose and stop cruel practices of the "food animal" industry through
research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public
awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and refuge efforts.
Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, NY and Orland, CA provide lifelong
care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm
animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory
farming. Additional information can be found at or by calling 607- 583-2225.

SOURCE Farm Sanctuary

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