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Senate blocks bill that would regulate crates

March 25, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Annapolis - The Maryland Senate on Monday blocked animal rights advocates from regulating crates used to house pregnant pigs.

Opponents of the legislation argued that regulation is unnecessary and would hurt hog farmers.

"This would be a very, very serious death knell to the hog industry, what's left of it," said Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, R-Eastern Shore.

The legislation, sponsored by Montgomery County Democrat Sharon Grosfeld, would have required farrowing crates to be large enough for sows to turn around.

Some crates are made so sows cannot turn around or lie down, she said.

"It's just inhumane," said Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City.

Gerald Ditto, a former hog farmer in Washington County, said the crates are designed to protect piglets from being accidentally crushed by their mothers.

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In the wild, pregnant pigs nest by digging cone-shaped holes in the ground that allow the piglets to fall to the bottom and the sow to rest on the sides above them.

That type of housing arrangement is impractical in a commercial farming operation, he said.

Most animal rights advocates don't have a realistic idea of what happens on a farm, said Ditto, who got out of the hog farming business last year.

"We put too much emphasis on animals and not enough on people," Ditto said.

All three Washington County senators voted against the bill when it died on a vote of 22-25.

On the Web:

SB 417

mlis.state.md.us

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