NORTH CAROLINA: Industry sees vegan agenda in puppy bill***
Posted: April 25th, 2009 - 9:05pm
RALEIGH -- North Carolina's meat industries are battling a bill the Humane Society of the United States and its vegan president say is meant to protect puppies, warning instead that it is the first step toward ending meat eating as we know it.
The Humane Society has made North Carolina a top priority in the fight for tougher animal welfare laws, for the first time deploying a lobbyist to work a full session of the state legislature.
Agribusiness groups predict a repeat of the tighter farm animal laws that California approved last year in a Humane Society-backed voter referendum. That measure included a requirement that egg-laying hens live in an area big enough for them to extend their wings, a mandate that opponents said was so cost-prohibitive it would drive egg producers out of business.
Consumers might easily mistake the Humane Society of the United States for their local dog-and-cat animal shelter, but the two are separate operations. The national group provides services such as grants and training that help those local shelters. And it operates shelters for wildlife and horses in California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Texas.
"The Humane Society of the United States is trying to help out from the top down," said David Miller, executive director of one of those dog-and-cat shelters, the Humane Society of Charlotte. "That's confusing for people sometimes."
The House agriculture committee is expected soon to hear a bill pushed by the national Humane Society that regulates and imposes licensing for commercial dog breeding. Some dog enthusiasts oppose the bill but its proponents portray it as a crackdown on puppy mills, such as the one that was raided in Goldsboro in February because of unsanitary conditions. Officials from both Wayne County and the Humane Society of the United States removed about 300 dogs and puppies.
North Carolina boasted a $5.7 billion animal-based agriculture economy in 2007, which was two-thirds of the overall agriculture economy in the state. It is second in pork production and perennially first or second in turkey growing. Last year the Humane Society pushed a ballot initiative in California, called Proposition 2, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters. The new law, among other regulations, requires that calves, chickens and pigs be kept in areas where they can freely lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. It was intended to ban the use of tightly confining crates for breeding sows and cages for hens.
"The question begs to be asked why [the Humane Society of the United States] arbitrarily chose North Carolina to worry about dogs and cats," said Peter Daniel, assistant to the president of the N.C. Farm Bureau. "They spearheaded the campaign to regulate farm animals [in California], and we just happen to have a lot of farm animals in North Carolina."