WAV Comment – Excellent article Raj and Vin – every bit the truth. Best wishes with yur work.
The cage age must come to an end in New Jersey | Opinion
By Raj Mukherji and Vin Gopal
New Jerseyans believe strongly in the humane treatment of animals. For years, voters have told lawmakers that they want us to take a stand against a particularly cruel practice used by some pork and veal producers. We have heard their voice via polls, phone calls and letters in the opinion pages. This issue has hung over Trenton for long enough, and it is time to finally pass commonsense reform into law.
At the center of this storm are “gestation crates,” metal cages used to confine mother pigs. Simply type the term into Google Images and you will understand why gestation crates raise such strong concern. Made of metal bars, these crates are so small the pigs cannot walk more than a step forward or backward, nor can they turn around.
Similarly, “veal crates” are used to confine calves fated to become cutlets. These newborns are taken from their mothers shortly after birth. Both gestation and veal crates have been denounced by animal welfare experts as unnecessarily cruel and archaic.
In a time of a global pandemic, most conversations around the dinner table are now about disease and living a new lifestyle because of it. This issue of gestation crates and veal crates brings an added level to this issue, as cramming animals side-by-side in tiny cages presents ideal conditions for dangerous pathogens to breed, multiply and mutate.
The United Nations cites intensive animal agriculture as a likely cause of future zoonotic disease. Prohibiting cruel crates helps tip the balance away from reckless industrial agriculture and toward more sustainable, ethical farming. Simply banning these extreme confinement methods greatly benefits public health, the environment and the animals.
Fortunately, the tide is turning away from these cruel practices. Both pigs and calves can be raised more humanely in larger pens alongside other animals of their own kind.
Under consumer pressure, Smithfield Foods, the nation’s largest pork producer, and Hormel Foods, producer of SPAM, are dramatically reducing their use of gestation crates. A long list of mainstream fast food, restaurant and grocery chains are purging gestation crates from their supply chains — and top veal producers are following suit.
Change is happening but ultimately it is not happening fast enough for the animals still suffering in these crates.
We can support and hasten positive changes like those made by the aforementioned businesses by passing corresponding laws. Ten U.S. states and the European Union have already outlawed gestation crates while nine U.S. states have banned veal crates.
Many of the states acting on this matter are major agricultural producers. For example, Kentucky has banned veal crates and Ohio has outlawed gestation crates. New Jersey has less to lose than these states and would hardly be sticking our neck out by following suit.
We would, however, be sending a message that this type of cruelty has no place in our state and that it is time for the “cage age” to come to an end.
We are grateful to our legislative colleagues for their previous support on this issue. The time is right to finish the job by sending this bill to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for a signature.
It is long past time we give these suffering animals the relief they deserve and have our state join the many others moving in the responsible, right direction.
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji represents the 33rd Legislative District and state Senator Vin Gopal represents the 11th Legislative District.