The Environment Committee heard testimony Monday about an agriculture bill that would allow for the farming of rabbit meat in Connecticut.
The proposal drew fierce opposition from animal advocacy groups like the Humane Society of Connecticut.
“There is no public demand for rabbit meat,” Annie Hornish, state director of the organization, said in written testimony.
“A few years ago, the rabbit meat market was tested, and vigorous public outcry resulted in the discontinuation of the sale of rabbit meat by Whole Foods and other stores,” Hornish said.
Keely Mangeno of Best Friends Pet Society said that rabbits are the third most popular household pet and should not be considered for farming purposes. She also said that factory farming these and other animals does not align with the values of the residents.
“Make no mistake, if this bill is passed Connecticut will regress,” she said.
Commissioner of Agriculture Bryan Hurlburt said that currently, people who want to buy a processed rabbit must buy it live from the farmer, ask for it to be processed, then return to the farm to pick it up. This bill would remove the extra step and allow for rabbits to be bought already processed.
He said this sort of activity has previously been approved for other animals like chickens and turkeys.
“We want to extend what is currently available to some farmers to additional farmers,” he said.
He said he thinks there’s a “tremendous market opportunity” out there.
“These would be small farms,” Hurlburt said. “These are not large factory farms.”
He said this is one farm seeking these so there’s no huge marketplace being created overnight.
It would be for 1,000 rabbits per year.