Sometimes it is important to set the record straight.
That is the case here. New Jersey stood at the forefront in the country of establishing humane standards of care for livestock and poultry for the state. In 2003, when the rule was originally proposed, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture explained that they were “adopt[ing] ‘standards for the humane raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing, and sale of domestic livestock,’ as well as ‘rules and regulations governing the enforcement of those standards.'” 35 N.J.R. 1873(a)(2003, as mandated by N.J.S.A. 4:22-16.1.
While the rules require minimum standards of care, the Department acknowledged that “many responsible New Jersey farmers meet or exceed” those standards. The standards were developed in consultation with the New Jersey Agricultural Station, and involved hundreds of hours of meeting with subcommittees established for each livestock group. Committee members included state and federal animal health officials, academicians, subject matter experts, farmers, transporters and members of the N.J.S.P.C.A. As the Director of the Division of Animal Health at that time, I chaired those meetings.
The N.J.D.A., the N.J. Ag. Station and N.J. Farm Bureau had approached legislators requesting the amendment to the animal cruelty statute (N.J.S.A. 4:22-16.1) that mandated the creation of these regulations out of concerns that there was no uniform guidance to either professional or volunteer law enforcement officials who were enforcing animal cruelty statutes with uneven hands across the state. These rules were necessary to provide:
[r]egulatory authorities charged with the enforcement of animal cruelty rules . . . measurable standards to help them do their jobs effectively and assist in the training of new inspectors. These defined standards provide authorities with a baseline to use to determine when animal cruelty occurs. Application of these standards uniformly, across the State will standardize the criteria under which animal cruelty cases are judged. 35 N.J.R. 1873(a)(2003.
In addition to specific standards for the raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing and sale of: (a) cattle; (b) horses; (c) poultry; (d) rabbits; (e) small ruminants; and (f) swine, they also established “procedural rules for investigation and enforcement actions and [the] use of proper biosecurity protocols.” Id. Biosecurity protocols are critical when investigating complaints about animal care “to prevent the spread of infectious or contagious agents on or off farm premises.” Id.
Furthermore, because the cause of livestock illness many not be immediately apparent, it is important that any individual who performs investigations be familiar with clinical signs of disease and report any cases of livestock disease or death to the . . . NJDA as required under N.J.A.C. 2:2-1.5. Id.
As previously described here, New Jersey was one of the first states to establish comprehensive humane standards of care for livestock and poultry. At the time, Colorado was one of the few states that had standards for livestock, although not at comprehensive as those drafted by New Jersey.
Well after the rule was adopted and survived legal challenges, the regulations and process used to draft the standards was shared with other states, including, for example, Ohio. Ohio’s standards were recently heralded as a model to follow for the formation of livestock codes in other states.
While I agree that the process used and resulting standards adopted in Ohio are a great model, it is important to remember that both started right here in the “Garden State!”