Animal production practices upheld as humane by state court

Nov 11, 2008
Animal production practices upheld as humane by state court

—Ruling could allow challenges in other states where certain production practices have been banned.

Animal welfare activists suffered a rare defeat earlier this month in New Jersey after the state Supreme Court struck down portions of a law dic tating farm animal handling practices. The law, originally passed by the New Jersey Legislature in 1996, was similar to those passed in Arizona and Florida and those on the ballot this fall in California.

The result of the New Jersey ruling could open the door to similar challenges of those regulations elsewhere by livestock interests.

In the New Jersey case, the court upheld many of the livestock practices as legal despite the challengesn by animal rights groups. The court approved several animal production practices including the confine ment of pregnant sows in gestation crates, the shear ing of poultry beaks, castration without anesthesia, and stressing chickens to produce more eggs, all practices that had been banned by the 1996 law. “Because we find in those regulations both un workable standards and an unacceptable delegation of authority to an ill-defined category of presumed experts, we conclude that the agriculture depart ment failed, in part, to carry out its mandate. We therefore conclude that some, but not all, of the regulations are invalid,” wrote Justice Helen Hoens as part of a unanimous court decision.

The single practice which will continue to be prohibited expressly by the case is the docking of

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