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N.J. Department of Agriculture
Proposes Humane Standards of Care for Livestock

For Immediate Release: May 5, 2003


Hope Gruzlovic




Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today announced that the Department of Agriculture has proposed comprehensive standards for the humane treatment and care of livestock in New Jersey, as well as rules and regulations governing the enforcement of those standards. "New Jersey is committed to ensuring the health and welfare of its farm animals," said Secretary Kuperus. "These standards will protect livestock by providing a clear baseline for determining when inhumane treatment occurs, ensuring that treatment that falls below that baseline can be accurately identified and promptly addressed by all applicable enforcement authorities." The proposal - published in today's New Jersey Register - establishes standards for the humane raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing and sale of domestic livestock. The standards cover horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, alpaca, poultry and rabbits. They apply to livestock farm operations as well as hobbyists or other individuals who own one or more of these types of animals. Currently, suspected cases of inhumane treatment of farm animals are investigated and enforced under the state's animal cruelty statute by state or county SPCAs, local animal control officers or other state and local officials. Because investigators have varying degrees of familiarity with livestock care, the standards are expected to provide these investigators with clear guidelines and result in greater consistency in enforcement investigations and actions. In addition, the Department of Agriculture will train certified livestock inspectors with expertise in specific animal specialties to conduct investigations on its behalf or be available to provide assistance to other enforcement agents on their request. New Jersey has approximately 2,700 livestock farms. The state's producers own 46,000 cattle and calves, 15,000 hogs and pigs, 13,000 sheep and lambs, 4,000 goats, 3,000 rabbits and 2,000 llamas and alpacas, as well as more than two million chickens, turkeys and ducks. New Jersey also has approximately 49,000 horses. The Department developed the standards with the assistance of veterinarians and representatives of Rutgers University's Cook College, the N.J. SPCA and the livestock industry.

The rule proposal can be found on the Department's web site at www.state.nj.us/agriculture. Written comments must be submitted by July 4th. The Department also will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule on Friday, June 20th, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cook Campus Center, Multi-Purpose Room C, Rutgers University, 59 Biel Road in New Brunswick. Anyone wishing to testify at this hearing should call (609) 777-0553 in advance to facilitate scheduling.