Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 87-20 to pass farm animal welfare legislation. This legislation was not the same legislation passed out of the Ag Committee. Due to compromise negotiations, the committee bill was gutted and replaced with a substitute bill that calls for confinement standards as primarily dictated by the Humane Society of the United States, not the “gold standards” many ag groups originally sought.

In a statement sent to Dairy Herd Management, the Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) says it did not negotiate the compromise legislation of Substitute H-4 for House Bill 5127; the negotiations were strictly between the Michigan Pork Producers Association (MPPA), Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Michigan Agri-Business Association, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

MPPA and Allied Poultry expressed to Farm Bureau that in light of the unknown fate of an HSUS-driven ballot initiative, they felt the substitute legislation was in the best interest of their members, and they asked for Farm Bureau’s support.

After long and thoughtful consideration, the MFB Board of Directors decided to honor the pork and poultry industries’ request and support their legislative effort. Meanwhile, Farm Bureau, in the interest of its entire membership, will pursue a substitute bill for House Bill 5128 which would advocate scientific-based animal care standards for all livestock species through the establishment of a Michigan Livestock Animal Care Standards Board with oversight from the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

The decision to support the pork and poultry industries’ compromise legislation was reached, in part, based on the following:

  • Farm Bureau is a general farm organization and its membership includes pork and poultry farmers. 
  • MFB member-developed policy strongly opposes the use of ballot initiatives as a way to regulate modern livestock production and management practices. The compromise legislation appears to diffuse this threat, at least in the near future, because in negotiating the legislation, HSUS has said it “will not pursue a Michigan farm animal confinement-related ballot measure prior to the effective date of the law.”