Cruel and Inhumane Confinement of Sows Act
Sec. 1. Purpose
To address animal cruelty issues in regard to the restrictive confinement of pregnant pigs in agricultural settings and the inevitable health impacts of the confinement. By prohibiting the use of gestation crates and other confinement techniques, the mental and physical health of pregnant pigs and safety of pork products are protected and promoted.
Sec. 2. Definitions
For the purposes of this act:
- "Pig" means any animal of the porcine species.
- "Enclosure" means any cage, crate or other confined area in which a pig is kept for all or the majority of any day, including gestation crates.
- "Person" means any natural person, corporation and/or business entity.
- "Turning around freely" means having the ability to turn around in a complete circle without any impediment, including a tether, and without touching any side of the enclosure.
- "Farm" means the land, buildings, support facilities, and other equipment that is wholly or partially used for the production of animals for food or fiber.
- "Prebirthing period" means the seven day period prior to a pig's expected date of giving birth.
Sec. 3. Regulation
(a) A person shall not tether or confine any pig on a farm for all or the majority of the day in a manner that prevents such animal from:
- Lying down and fully extending its limbs; or
- Turning around freely.
(b) This section shall not apply:
- When a pig is undergoing an examination, test, treatment or operation carried out for veterinary purposes, provided the period during which the animal is confined or tethered is not longer than reasonably necessary.
- During the prebirthing period.
Sec. 4. Penalties
(a) A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. A violation is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or by both imprisonment and a fine.
(b) The confinement or tethering of each pig shall constitute a separate offense.
On November 5, 2002, Florida voters approved the ban of intensive confinement of pigs in gestation crates. This was the first measure ever in the United States to ban the caging of pigs in gestation crates. Arizona voters overwhelmingly passed a similar measure in 2006 that outlawed the cruel confinement of breeding pigs as well as veal calves. Both states had overwhelming support from concerned citizens who wanted to put an end to animal cruelty in agricultural settings. On June 28, 2007, Oregon became the first state ever to pass legislation banning the use of cruel confinement of pigs in gestation crates. The ballot initiatives and state legislation are ample evidence that the movement to ban gestation crates is gaining momentum and increasing in popularity.
Breeding sows spend the majority of their reproductive lives, typically three to five years, in intensive confinement where stretching out, turning around, and sometimes standing up is impossible. The stalls are purposely designed so that movement is severely limited, typically sized at 2 x 7 feet, and just barely larger than the animal housed in the crate. The compact design was intended to increase efficiency in pork production, requiring less labor and feed than other housing arrangements. While the goal of the crates is economic efficiency, the outcome also includes a wide array of physical and psychological disorders in the confined sows.
Scientific evidence points to many physical and psychological disorders caused by intensive confinement. Among the physical disorders are joint damage, leg weakness, impaired mobility, urinary tract infections, and other painful disorders that prevent pigs from engaging in normal exercise and socialization. Scientific evidence also suggests that pigs need environmental stimulation and social relationships with other pigs. If deprived of this, pigs may develop chronic stress, depression, frustration, aggression, and abnormal neurotic behaviors. Intensive confinement not only deprives pigs of a healthy social life, but it inflicts physical and mental pain so severe that pigs often get sick and cannot function.
The crowded conditions that result from the use of gestation crates are conducive to the spread of disease among pigs. Because of this many pigs in factory farms are infected with diseases such as salmonellosis, epidemic transmissible gastroenteritis, and Bratislava. These diseases are dangerous to humans and are sometimes treated with large amounts of antibiotics that also can be hazardous to people. Pork produced from sick pigs inevitably makes unhealthy food. One study found that 50% of ham contained staphylococcus which can causes a variety of illnesses in people including food poisoning. Food poisoning sickens up to 76 million and kills 5,000 people in the United States every year. The crowded areas leave pigs vulnerable to diseases, but treating the diseases also creates a new health hazard. By banning gestation crates conditions that cause problems human consumers will necessarily improve.
The severity of this abuse and the incidental health problems have already been recognized by the people of Florida, Arizona, and Oregon who fought to have it banned, but that is just the beginning. Tethering is banned entirely in the European Union and at least three countries have already stopped the use of gestation crates altogether. That ban will effectively reach the rest of the EU by 2013 when all countries will have phased out the use of gestation crates entirely.
In addition, the United States largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, and Canada's largest pork producer, Maple Leaf foods, have both announced that they will begin to phase out the use of gestation crates in their pork production. Burger King and Wolfgang Puck have also announced that they are moving away from pork producers that use gestation crates. It is clear that animal welfare and safe pork products are on the mind of those who produce, sell, and consume pork. The banning of gestation crates has support from all sides of the industry and the introduction and subsequent passage of these bans will effectively stop inhumane practices and help to keep pork products safe for consumers.
The Humane Society, "Oregon Makes History by Banning Gestation Crates". www.hsus.org, June 28, 2007.
The Humane Society, "Election '06: Animals Win in Arizona and Michigan". www.hsus.org, November 7, 2006.
The Humane Society, "Voters Protect Pigs in Florida, Ban Cockfighting in Oklahoma". www.hsus.org, November 6, 2002.
Farm Sanctuary, "The Welfare of Sows in Gestation Crates: A Summary of the Scientific Evidence A Farm Sanctuary Report". www.farmsanctuary.org
Oregon, SB 694, 74th Leg. Assembly, Reg. Sess. (2007).
Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13.2910.07 (2006)
Florida Amendment X Section 21.
PETA, "Pigs: Intelligent Animals Suffering in Factory Farms and Slaughterhouses". www.peta.org.
Factoryfarming.com, "Factory Pork Production" http://www.factoryfarming.com/pork.htm.