Preventing cruelty to animals is as legitimate a goal as stopping it where it already exists. And if we let gestation crates move to New Jersey, you can be sure that the pork industry would howl that banning them would kill jobs, as they've claimed elsewhere. It's not that the industry wants to have it both ways – they want a ban on gestation crates neither way.
Of course, if Christie was serious about stamping out the problem where it exists, he'd call his friend, Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa, and tell him to end the practice in that state, where a million sows are still confined in gestation crates. Branstad apparently had no qualms about telling Christie what to do, mistakenly claiming that gestation crates are needed to protect piglets (the crates are only used to confine pregnant pigs before their piglets are born). I would be happy to take Branstad to a farm and show him the difference between gestation crates and farrowing crates, which are not covered by the bill.
The fact is, Branstad and Christie – and their friend Congressman Steve King – have aligned themselves with an increasingly fringe element of animal agriculture that is determined to defend extreme confinement practices. In addition to the food retailers who are shunning the crates, so, too, are major pig producers such as Smithfield, Cargill, and Hatfield. The European Union bans the crates and Canada, Australia, India, and, most recently, Brazil have pledged to phase them out. It's ironic that one of the most animal-friendly states in the nation is the place where an anti-crate bill is vetoed, on the recommendation of a governor from a far-off state. It just so happens that the Iowa governor's endorsement is coveted by the Republican presidential candidates who troll for votes in Iowa's 99 counties, and I'd be willing to bet that had a great deal to do with Christie's action.