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Animal Welfare Groups Cry Foul over Mass. Livestock Bill

Animal Welfare Groups want veal & pig gestation crates banned in MA. Photo: HSUS.
Animal Welfare Groups want veal & pig gestation crates banned in MA. Photo: HSUS.
June 3, 2013

SPENCER, Mass. - A livestock bill gets a hearing today in Massachusetts and it's drawing the ire of many animal welfare groups. The bill is touted as an act to promote the care and well-being of livestock, but according to Alexis Fox, the state director for the Humane Society of the United States, it's a power grab designed to do away with protections for animals used for food. She noted that the bill, drafted by the Farm Bureau, appoints an 11-member board, and while two of those seats will be made available to animal welfare groups, she said, they'll be a powerless minority.

"It specifically cuts animal-welfare organizations out of the process," Fox charged. "This board has the power to veto animal welfare regulations that are issued by the state."

The hearing for the livestock bill, sponsored by state representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington), is set for this morning in Spencer. Supporters of the measure claim it will help keep decisions about livestock local. Fox said however that the bill cuts out many local farm and animal welfare groups.

Fox believes the legislation is designed to counter the Massachusetts "Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act," a bill her group backs that would prohibit the use of veal crates for calves and pig gestation crates for breeding pigs. Such crates, widely used in factory farming, keep the animals closely confined.

"The way it would impact farmers in Massachusetts, it would prohibit their use, and hopefully discourage farmers from ever even considering putting an animal in Massachusetts into one of these cruel confinement systems," the Humane Society leader declared.

Currently, there are no laws on the books in the state that would prohibit the use of veal or gestation crates. Maine and Rhode Island passed laws banning the extreme confinement of pigs and calves, and recently the Vermont and New Jersey Senates overwhelmingly passed similar legislation.

The hearing is at 10 a.m. today, June 3, at David Prouty High School, 302 Main Street , Spencer, MA 01562.The livestock Bill is H.753, Massachusetts Prevention Of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (S. 741)

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA