Senate frees the pregnant pigs

US - By a vote of 20-9 Thursday, the Oregon Senate endorsed a bill that would make it a Class A misdemeanor to confine a pregnant pig.
calendar icon 27 April 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
Sure, there were lots of pig jokes during the floor debate. But the sponsor of Senate Bill 694 is serious about preventing what she calls the "inhumane treatment of animals."

It's common practice for U.S. pork producers to confine a 250- to 350-pound pregnant pig in an aluminum enclosure 2 feet wide by 7 feet long. Sows remain in these so-called "gestation stalls" throughout their pregnancy, which lasts about four months. The animals can lie down but not turn around. Food and water are placed at the head, where they cannot be contaminated by the wastes that come out the back.

Oregon's bill is similar to ballot measures that have passed and become law in Arizona and Florida and to bills pending before 15 other state legislatures this year. And sponsor Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, says it's important for Oregon to join those states in banning such practices.

Originally, the bill also banned confinement of calves raised for veal. But that language was dropped after lawmakers learned that Oregon does not have a veal industry and the state's dairy producers worried that its language could affect their businesses.

Oregon does have an estimated 4,000 breeding hogs. Though there's some dispute about whether the gestation stalls --used mostly by large-scale producers --are used in this state.

"No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it's still a pig," said Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg. "Why are we creating a law when one does not need to exist?"

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