Apparently there is a huge demand for rabbit meat in the state of Connecticut.

Who knew? As an 18-year veteran of the General Assembly, and former House Chair of the Committee on Children, I certainly didn’t. But this cleverly hidden pent-up demand could not be contained and burst out in a bill, HB 5295 An Act Concerning Agricultural Development and Innovation, which is currently in front of the Environment Committee.

Wait a second! Wasn’t that same bill language presented to the Commerce Committee about a week ago? The one allowing factory farming and slaughter of rabbits, House Bill 5263 An Act Concerning The Processing of Rabbits for Consumption? And now it shows up again disguised in an agricultural innovation bill in front of another committee? This after more than 100 people presented written testimony in opposition before the Commerce Committee?

Doesn’t sound like good government to me.

Why would the state of Connecticut move in the direction of allowing farms to raise and slaughter up to 1,000 rabbits? Are kids clamoring for rabbit meat sandwiches in the farm-to-school program? Do we have any data whatsoever indicating that rabbits are hot commodities at area super markets?

Meanwhile there is a significant national movement encouraging a transition to more plant based diets and away from confining and slaughtering animals in factory farms. There are three reasons for this: 1. a move to plant-based diets is very climate friendly;  2. confined animals operations are petri dishes for infectious diseases (think Covid);  and 3. you reduce myriad human health risks if you consume more plant-based products, which in turn reduces overall health care costs.

So I ask again, what does the Connecticut Department of Agricultural consider innovative about raising and killing huge numbers of rabbits? Factory farming bunny rabbits just in time for Easter?

I did not see one spec of data supporting this in the bill language or in any testimony at either public hearing. Indeed, advocates of the legislation are offering this cart-before-the-horse argument that we can’t get data until the bill passes. Really? So we are just going to blindly pass legislation and hope that data miraculously appears to support it?

This is all very disappointing.  I worked hard in my years in the General Assembly to insist on data-driven decision-making so that we wouldn’t muddle through passing inane laws that not only create more bureaucracy but drag Connecticut backwards.

With apologies to the bard: something is rotten in the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

Diana Urban was a Connecticut legislator for 18 years and served as Chair of the Committee on Children. She now serves as founder and president of Protecting Kids and Pets Partnership.