Maine Governor John Baldacci signed legislation preventing two livestock production confinement methods, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the new law will prohibit gestation crates for sows and veal crates for calves.

LD 1021 was sponsored by Senator John Nutting (D-Androscoggin County), Senate Chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. It passed the committee and both chambers unanimously.

The Humane Society of the United States strongly backed the legislation.

"It's cruel and inhumane to confine animals in cages barely larger than their own bodies for months on end," said Katie Lisnik, Maine state director of The HSUS.

Californians overwhelmingly passed a similar measure, The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, by ballot initiative last fall.

In addition to California, four other states have passed similar measures, including Colorado, Florida, Arizona and Oregon.

Major national retailers like Safeway and Burger King are increasingly phasing in crate-free and cage-free products due to consumer demand. And the top veal and pork producers in the country - such as Smithfield Foods, Strauss Veal and Marcho Farms - have begun to phase out crates and move toward group housing systems for pigs and calves.

SOURCE: Humane Society of the United States.