HSUS supporter introduces bill in N.Y.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Legislators in New York introduced a new bill that would prohibit the confinement of breeding pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens by 2015. New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, introduced the bill.

Animal activist

Rosenthal has served in the assembly since 2006 and has been a supporter of the Humane Society of the United States for many years.

She recently helped the organization use undercover cameras to target New York retailers selling mislabeled fur. In March, the society presented Rosenthal with a humane legislator award.

Her most recent sponsored legislation, bill A08163, states that confined animals are unable to engage in natural behavior and “experience extensive and significant physical and psychological trauma.”

“[Rosenthal] has been an animal rights activist for a number of years, and this bill is another step in her commitment,” said Meghan Nutting, legislative director to Rosenthal.

“This was an issue she pursued on her own, and the Humane Society of the United States has thrown their full support behind her.”

Nutting said Rosenthal sponsored a bill similar to this one last year and has introduced many other bills related to the humane treatment of animals.

Referred to ag committee

Although 10 other assembly members, most located in the New York City area, have co-sponsored the legislation, New York agricultural producers shouldn’t be too worried, said New York Farm Bureau Government Relations Director Julie Suarez.

“The bill has been introduced in legislation, but it must be voted on and passed in the agriculture committee,” she said.

This committee is chaired by William Magee, an auctioneer in Madison County, N.Y., who graduated from Cornell in agricultural economics. Magee said committee members are reviewing the bill, and a vote will probably not take place before 2010.

“We have to take a close look at it,” Magee said. “We understand the concerns of the sponsor, but we also have to consider the negative impact for farmers.”

Magee said of the 22 other members of the agriculture committee, many have similar backgrounds to his and are well-versed in production agriculture.

Opportunity

Magee said, however, the bill provides an opportunity to re-evaluate New York’s agricultural industry.

“We want to protect farmers, but they should take a look at what they’re doing and see what they can do differently,” he said.

HSUS success

Although New York farmers may be breathing a sigh of relief for now, others aren’t so lucky. Similar action to this bill has succeeded in other states, such as the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (Proposition 2) that was passed in California last fall by ballot initiative.

Reforms for so-called “factory farms” were also passed in Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Oregon.

Suarez said part of the reason the Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary have been so successful in other states is because the initiative and referendum process allows legislators to obtain signatures and support for a one- or two-sentence ballot that does not fully represent the entire proposed action.

“[Legislators] use language that is posed very simplistically,” Suarez said. “The agriculture industry does not have the funds to educate the public about that language.”

Washington D.C. and 24 states, including Ohio, allow for these ballot initiatives.

Efforts in Ohio

“What is needed here is more consumer education,” said David White, Ohio Farm Bureau’s senior director for policy research and development. “As agricultural producers, we need to do a better job of telling our story.”

Ohio agricultural leaders like White have been evaluating consumer education programs more closely since the February 2009 meeting between representatives from the Humane Society of the United States and Ohio’s livestock industry leaders.

White said the best way to counteract the efforts of the Humane Society of the United States and similar activist organizations is to emphasize that although farmers have a variety of production systems, they are all dedicated to caring for animals.

Door is open

White said producers need to understand that even if the legislation does not pass, the issue still creates a buzz and initiates a ripple effect.

“This type of legislation affects all states and all commodities related to livestock production throughout the nation,” White said. “Now is the time to educate the public.”

About the Author

Emily Caldwell of Beaver Falls, Pa., serves as the 2009 Farm and Dairy editorial intern. She is a graduate of Penn State University, where she studied agribusiness and agricultural communications. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/emily718. More Stories by Emily Caldwell

3 Comments

  1. It is to the credit of FB that our organization recognizes the dangerous intent and goals of HSUS. There is a huge dichotomy between animal rights and animal welfare. Dog and cat owners are dealing with over 134 mandatory spay/neuter (MSN)bills from coast to coast. One of the main goals of HSUS is to eliminate all breeding: not just pedigree cats and dogs, but ultimately, farm animals. The\ HSUS approach is insidious: one step at a time. President of HSUS Wayne Pacelle has publicly stated “One generation and out.”

  2. pork chop says:

    Ohio is the HSUS “target”. Hope fully the good citixens of the Buckeye state wil no fall to the same propaganda that Californians did. The animal rights industry is a force that bodes nothing but disaster for the people of the world. The HSUS is the richest animal rights industry in the world and yet they run NO shetlers. Their headquarters are restricted to vegan foods ONLY, which should send a clear message to the farmers and ranchers of the the USA. Their conferences, parties, “galas” and seminars are “vegan only”. Wayne Pacelle is a strict vegan.. and would like to see the rest of us follow him..
    The only way to stop the HSUS is to STOP the flow of $$$$$$$$
    Freinds Don’t Let Friends Donate To The HSUS Industry… and
    Friends Don’t Let Friends VOTE for Legislators that Support The HSUS Industry

  3. Seems that the New York Farm Bureau has lost its way a bit. It claims to speak for small farmers, but uses its political muscle to advance the interest of New York’s medium and large CAFOs. I imagine that many of New York’s small farmers (especially those that would never treat their animals so harshly) feel a bit duped at paying dues to support big agribusiness.

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