WASHINGTON – The National Pork Producers Council urged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to veto a bill that would ban the use of gestation stalls in the state. NPPC spoke out after the New Jersey legislature approved the bill.

The New Jersey Assembly passed the bill with 60 members voting yes and five members voting no. The senate passed the bill by a 29-4 vote. The legislation establishes "cruel confinement of a gestating pig" as an animal cruelty offense. The bill prohibits crates, confinement or tethers that prevent gestating sows from being able to turn around, lie down freely, stand up or fully extend their limbs. If it becomes law, anyone found in violation could face fines of not less than $250 or more than $1,000 for each offense, or imprisonment for no more than six months, or both.

“Each gestating sow that is subjected to cruel confinement shall constitute a separate and distinct offense,” the bill states.

The NPPC however said the legislation dictates how hog producers in New Jersey care for their animals. A "vast majority" of hog farmers use gestation stalls for pregnant sows which facilitates individualized care of animals and eliminates aggression from other sows.

“The bill is a solution in search of a problem,” said Dr. Howard Hill, NPPC president-elect, a hog farmer from Iowa. “This is about HSUS using New Jersey to advance its national animal-rights agenda, and we hope Gov. Christie won’t go along with it.

“Decisions about animal well-being and housing should be determined by those who understand the animals and work with them every day,” Hill added. “We urge Gov. Christie to veto this legislation and allow farmers and veterinarians to decide the best way to care for their animals.”

New Jersey Sen. Raymond Lesniak sponsored the Senate version of the bill, while Assemblyman Gilbert Wilson, Assemblywoman Marlene Caride and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin sponsored the Assembly companion bill.