NC pork industry lobby derails puppy mill bill

Cross-posted at dKos

The North Carolina General Assembly tried and failed for the second year in a row to rein in puppy mills. Yet the reason it failed this year is one of the most comical I've seen yet. It was well on its way to passage before it ran into opposition from--wait for it--the state pork industry lobby.

The N.C. Pork Council, which represents a $2.2 billion industry in the state, opposed Senate Bill 460, which sought to "eliminate abusive practices and provide for the humane care and treatment of dogs and puppies by establishing standards for their care at commercial breeding operations."

Angie Whitener, the Pork Council's lobbyist, said her group does not oppose puppies so much as the bill's main backers, the Humane Society of the United States.

"Our opposition is solely based on the proponent of the bill," Whitener said. "We're very worried about this powerful, very wealthy animal rights organization."

The bill cleared the state senate, and was about to be taken up by the state house finance committee. However, after the pork lobby weighed in, it caused enough division that the leadership decided to pull it and try again next year.

If the fact that the pork lobby even got involved doesn't burn you up, its motivation for doing so should. Whitener says the pork lobby got involved because it felt the Humane Society has a hidden agenda.

Whitener said the bill was about more than just dogs. She said she believes the Humane Society's end goal is to eventually stop meat production for human consumption.

Whitener noted that the Humane Society of the United States sponsored Proposition 2, a ballot initiative passed two years ago in California. Among other regulations, the law 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. Californians overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure.

Whitener also pointed to a press release on the Humane Society's website that said the organization had purchased stock in Krispy Kreme, the Winston-Salem-based doughnut company, and planned to encourage "Krispy Kreme to move away from egg suppliers that confine hens in cages."

"This shows what their true intentions are," in North Carolina, Whitener said.

So let's see if I'm understanding this right. A bill that would simply require breeders to follow basically the same rules as pet shops and animal shelters would open the door to taking all meat off American tables? The mind reels.

Let's give Whitener an earful about this. Email her at angie at ncpork dot org.

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