Californians Protect Farm Animals with Prop 2

November 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, CAFOs, California, Factory Farming, Front Page

Californians recently passed an historic proposition that provides a higher quality-of-life standard for farm animals. Proposition 2 (“Prop 2”), also referred to as the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, prohibits the containment of farm animals in a way that does not allow them to “lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs.”

Overcrowded cages are common in some factory farms. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing.

Overcrowded battery cages are common in some factory farms. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing.

For the first time in the United States, this proposition will ban battery cages for egg-laying hens, giving farmers until 2015 to update their facilities. The battery cage confinement system is considered to be an inhumane practice that has generated controversy among animal welfare and animal rights advocates because it does not provide hens with sufficient space to stand, walk, flap their wings, perch, or make a nest.

Gestation crates for sows and crates for veal calves will also be banned. Such crates prohibit free movement. Any person who violates the conditions of the act will be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment in county jail for up to six months.

Paul Schapiro, Senior Director of the Factory Farming Campaign for the Humane Society of the United States, said that this act is a huge step in the animal rights movement. “This will set our nation on a new trajectory — away from some of the most cruel and inhumane practices associated with factory farming.” he said.

As a way to acquire support for the proposition, Mercy For Animals conducted an undercover investigation of Norco Ranch in Southern California that showcases the living environment for hens in factory egg farming.

Californians for SAFE (safe, affordable, and fresh eggs) Food attacked the ballot measure in an official statement, saying that those in support of Prop 2 “led an emotionally manipulative, dishonest, and often deceptive campaign.” The group opposed the proposition partially out of concern that egg prices would skyrocket in California, forcing a reliance on out-of-state and foreign egg imports, according to their website.

Laying hens may live in unhealthy conditions, with droppings collecting on the cages and the birds. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing.

Laying hens living in unhealthy conditions, with droppings collecting on the cages and the birds. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing.

But since more than a third of eggs consumed in California already come from out-of-state producers, the statute would cause “little, if any, cost increase” for consumers, according to a study by the University of California, Davis Agricultural Issues Center. The rest of the country’s egg producers would have to switch to battery-free egg collection methods before there would be an impact on prices, according to Daniel Sumner, director of the center.

Californians for SAFE Food could not be reached for further comment.

Schapiro said soon all consumers will begin to realize that there is a hidden cost to mass production animal factory farming, which includes continued animal cruelty as well as health and environmental setbacks.

According to a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all other transportation combined. Factory farming in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) has also been criticized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for environmental risks, such as increased threat of groundwater contamination due to the disposal of animal waste in lagoons. Yet, the United Nations report also says, if farm animals are not confined to small spaces, some of these environmental concerns may be alleviated.

Pigs jammed together in crowded conditions. Photo credit: Compassion Over Killing.

Factory-raised pigs jammed together while being transported. Photo: Compassion Over Killing

Prop 2 passed with 63.2 percent of votes, according to the California Secretary of State’s Office. Casey Piller, 20, of Burbank, CA voted yes on the ballot initiative because, she says, farm animals are treated inhumanely. Piller says she would be willing to risk rising prices for eggs, milk, or meat if it ensured that animals had a better life. “It’s selfish for us to be so cheap that we are willing to subject these animals to [inhumane treatment] for years,” she said.

Despite Prop 2 improving conditions for animals and limiting the negative environmental impact of factory farming, Schapiro  told Blue Planet Green Living that the animal rights movement still has “a far way to go” before farm animals are treated humanely. “No one law can address every issue,” he said. “There are a multitude of other problems that farm animals must face, whether it is mutilation without any painkiller, or whether it is inhumane selective-breeding programs that eventually turn these animals into meat-, egg-, or dairy-producing machines.”

Sabrina Potirala

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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