Hearing ensues on N.J. livestock welfare standards
Trenton, N.J. - The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is back in court defending its "Humane Treatment of Domestic Livestock" standards against an animal rights group's claims the principles don't go far enough.
TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is back in court defending its "Humane Treatment of Domestic Livestock" standards against an animal rights group's claims the principles don't go far enough.
New Jersey Superior Court judges heard oral arguments last month in the appeal, filed by a coalition of animal activists that include Farm Sanctuary, New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Humane Society of the United States and others. The group, which lost its original court case against the state, alleges that the agriculture department failed to establish humane standards for farm animals and sanctions numerous inhumane practices used to raise animals on "industrialized factory farms."
New Jersey is the only state in the country that requires a code of humane standards for farm animals. In 1996, the state Legislature gave the department of agriculture six months to promulgate standards for "the humane raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing and sale of domestic livestock." No funding was allocated for the document's research, and it took nearly eight years before a draft was completed. The final version was set back another two years by the outpour of activist letters rejecting the draft.
Activists want the department to revisit the standards, specifically the allowance of gestation and veal crates in production practices. Jeff Beach, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, did not return phone calls seeking comment. But Rick Alampi, executive director of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, predicts, "This won't end until they win. It's like they're in a jihad."