Victory: Rhode Island Bans Gestation Crates, Veal Crates, and Tail-Docking of Cows

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Earlier this week, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed two bills into law that put his state on a growing list of states banning some of the cruelest factory farming practices.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, the passage of these bills makes Rhode Island the “ninth state to ban gestation crates for breeding pigs, the seventh to ban veal crates for calves, and the third to ban cattle tail docking.”

The dairy industry is notorious for its many unethical practices, one of which includes docking the tails of cows, a painful mutilation often performed without any anesthesia. This practice is so cruel, it’s opposed by the American Veterinary Medical Association as well as several dairy industry representatives, and it’s been banned in California, Ohio, and now Rhode Island.

Many male dairy calves, who are considered mere industry byproducts since they’ll never produce milk, are taken away from their mothers at birth and crammed inside tiny veal crates where they’ll spend about four or five months before being shipped off to slaughter. The use of veal crates has raised so many welfare concerns, that even the industry’s own trade group, the American Veal Association, “recommends that the entire veal industry convert to the group housing methodology.”

In the pork industry, more than 80% of the nearly six million female pigs raised for breeding in the U.S. are kept nearly immobilized for months on end inside narrow metal gestation crates that are barely wider than their bodies. These sows are so intensively confined, they can’t even turn around and are unable to perform many of their most natural behaviors.

Experts widely agree that confining pigs in gestation crates causes immense suffering. Welfare concerns have already prompted the entire European Union (effective 2013) and now nine US states to phase out this barbaric system of confinement.

Even though the writing for this inhumane practice is on the wall, the National Pork Producers Council continues to drag its feet on this issue. Not only is it still defending the use of gestation crates but, like the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, it’s actively campaigning against a federal law aiming to ban the use of barren battery cages in the egg industry.

Getting rid of these cruel and inhumane factory farming practices is an important step forward in reducing the suffering of millions of birds, pigs, and cows – but the most effective step each of us can take to protect animals is to simply leave them off our plates.

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