Critics: Christie Courts Iowa Voters with Pig-Cage Veto

Image: Critics: Christie Courts Iowa Voters with Pig-Cage Veto

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 03:51 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill dealing with pig crates with an eye toward his political ambitions rather than what's best for New Jersey, critics are complaining.

Christie this week rejected a ban on gestation crates for pregnant sows, reports Politico.  Animal-rights activists say the crates are cruel, but the real concern in New Jersey is that Christie may have vetoed the bill to further his presidential ambitions and look attractive to voters in hog-heavy Iowa as the 2016 campaign nears.

Urgent: ObamaCare Is About to Strike — Are You Prepared?

Iowa is the nation's top hog-producing state, while New Jersey's farms don't even crack the top 10, so Christie's veto will have little impact at home while still getting Iowans' attention.

The decision feeds into his Democratic opponent Barbara Buono's claims that she is the only person running for governor. Christie, she continues to claim, actually is running for the White House.

Democratic state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, one of the pig-crate bill's sponsors, said Christie "only cares about his presidential aspirations, and they are influenced by his interest in Iowa. This should have been an easy vote. The problem is we have a governor with no heart, soul, or compassion and only cares about his political ambitions.”

A Christie spokesman said the governor believes it's up to the State Board of Agriculture, not state government, to develop livestock-treatment standards.

"The proper balancing of the humane treatment of gestating pigs with the interests of farmers whose livelihood depends on their ability to properly manage their livestock best rests with the state’s farming experts — the state board and the department,” Christie said through the spokesman.

The National Pork Producers Council opposes the ban, and said Christie's veto was based on science and not politics, but Lesniak and animal-rights supporters say the veto played into Iowa's hog industry.

“Most Americans see this and are appalled,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at The Humane Society of the United States. “The National Pork Producers can fight this tooth and nail, but the trend is very clear whether you’re looking at states or corporate policy.”

According to the Humane Society, the cages leave sows so confined that they can't turn around. The gestation cages have been banned in nine states, as the Humane Society brought national attention to the law.

Before Christie's veto, the bill appeared to be moving through. The state Legislature approved it by an overwhelming vote, Assembly lawmakers voting 60-5 and the Senate approving it by a 29-4 vote.

Advocates say they'll try to override the veto when the legislature returns in November, reports The Star-Ledger.

Vetoing the bill also may have kept support for Christie coming in from other powerful players, reports Politico.

GOP donor Bruce Rastetter, founder of Homeland Pork Enterprises, one of the nation's largest production companies, had encouraged Christie to run for the presidency in 2012.

Urgent: ObamaCare Is About to Strike — Are You Prepared?

Rastetter's brother Brent is CEO of Quality Ag Construction, which builds hog enclosures, including the controversial gestation crates.

Bruce Rastetter has provided seed money to the conservative American Future Fund, while Brent donated $64,000 to conservative causes, mostly Republican Party committees, in 2012.

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