Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Jersey. New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Farm Sanctuary. New Jersey Supreme Court Ruling. July 2008. Victory for Farm Sanctuary.

Our good friends in upstate New York, Farm Sanctuary, scored a great victory yesterday in the state of New Jersey. This victory is a major bust with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) in legal handcuffs after the NJ Supreme Court handed down its decision. We can thank God for our legal system through which we can disprove what has been accepted as good practice or fact. The NJDA arguments, as I understand it, rest on the premise that routine practices makes them humane, by default. Well, Farm Sanctuary argued to the contrary, and won. Farm Sanctuary expects this decision in New Jersey to affect farm practices across the country. Congratulations to Farm Sanctuary! Farm animals across our country stand to benefit from their legal effort, and their landmark victory will serve as reference to other legal actions against the inhumane treatment of farm animals. Here is a copy of their announcement which better describes their victory:

" Yesterday, Farm Sanctuary scored a precedent-setting victory in its decade-long battle against the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's (NJDA) inhumane standards of farm animal care. In a monumental legal decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously declared that factory farming practices cannot be considered "humane" simply because they are "routine husbandry practices." The Court also rejected the practice of tail-docking cattle, the manner in which the NJDA had provided for farm animals to be mutilated without anesthesia, and ordered the agency to readdress many of the state-mandated standards for the treatment of farm animals.

The NJDA had set its spurious standards of humane farm animal care after the state legislature ordered it to develop humane care standards in 1996. In a disingenuous and duplicitous move, the NJDA responded nearly eight years later by qualifying all factory farming practices as "humane," simply because they are routine in the industry.

In response, Farm Sanctuary launched a coalition and filed a lawsuit against the NJDA, stating that the NJDA's sanctioning of factory farming practices as humane failed to follow the legislature's directive. The lawsuit reached the state Supreme Court, which yesterday handed down its decision.

This decision does not stand without criticism. The Court failed to take the opportunity to strike down regulations that allow the confinement of breeding pigs in gestation crates, and calves in veal crates, as well as the transport of sick and downed cattle. Although the Court admitted that confinement practices were "controversial" and that downed animals "suffer greatly," it refused to intervene in the agency's decision to permit these systems, suggesting that these issues should be addressed to the legislature. In fact, there is growing momentum nationwide, and in other countries, to phase out these cruel systems, and we will push the agency vigorously to phase out these cruel and inhumane practices when the regulations are revised.

The Court's decision will have far-reaching repercussions for farm animals across the entire country. Historically, perhaps the greatest legal obstacles preventing the application of cruelty statues to farm animals are state exemptions based on "routine husbandry practices." Now that Farm Sanctuary has persuaded New Jersey's highest court to reject such a consideration as sufficient grounds for declaring any practice to be humane, we have created a new and deep crack in the industry's legal dam.

Read more about this landmark victory, and thank you for your ongoing support in our efforts to end factory farming. "

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