Assembly bill No. 5236 was recently introduced in the state assembly that would establish “criminal offenses and civil penalties concerning [allegedly] inhumane confinement of breeding pigs and calves raised for veal.”

This bill was introduced by a legislator in Hudson County, New Jersey, part of the New York City metropolitan area, where Jersey City is the county seat-a city I know well from my childhood since my grandparents and mother lived there for decades.  I can assure you that there are no veal calves or breeding pigs targeted by this bill that are raised in Hudson County, and probably none raised in the entire state.

Further and more importantly, this bill is entirely unnecessary since the Department of Agriculture regulates such husbandry practices through the Humane Treatment of Livestock regulation that the legislature required in 1995.

That regulation requires veal calves to be raised as follows

(h) For cattle intended to be raised as Special-Fed veal, the NJDA adopts and incorporates by reference the recommendations for rearing and housing outlined in the Guide for the Care and Production of Veal Calves, Sixth Edition 2001 (American Veal Association, Inc., Middletown, PA 17507) as amended and supplemented.

Housing requirements, by regulation, require that calves have the space as currently proposed by the bill, which, as to veal calves is unnecessary and a waste of time for legislators who should be focused on other impending concerns.

As to housing for breeding hogs, while not an issue in New Jersey, such measures should be addressed by the state agency with the background, expertise and training in swine health and husbandry — the Division of Animal Health, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and not to some albeit well-meaning but misinformed legislators.