A few weeks ago, I shared the story of Matt Kellogg, an Illinois hog producer who had the unique opportunity to share the ins and outs of his operation on the Oprah Winfrey show. At the heart of the show was discussion on Proposition 2, an animal rights measure on the California ballot that did pass on Tuesday, to the dismay of commercial livestock producers. The passage of that measure effectively shuts down the California egg industry, forcing California consumers to buy eggs from other states and from Mexico.
Proposition 2, or “Prop 2,” was officially titled the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty. The statute enacted by the proposition prohibits confinement of farm animals in a way that doesn’t allow them to turn around, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs without touching another animal or an enclosure. It specifically addresses modern cage housing for hens and stalls for sows and veal calves, and carries fines and jail terms for violations.
Farm Sancuary and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) were primary backers of Prop 2, and HSUS president Wayne Pacelle also appeared on the Oprah show with Matt Kellogg.
But a question often arises with animal rights groups: was it a fair fight? Those folks, like Pacelle and HSUS and PETA, often speak loud and long and figure any attention is better than no attention. Opposition groups have called HSUS out for their manipulative campaigning for Prop 2. Californians for Safe Food opposed Prop 2 and said that the coalition led by Farm Sanctuary and HSUS “led an emotionally manipulative, dishonest and often deceptive campaign.”
They also tend to veil their more radical beliefs behind a friendly smokescreen. Pacelle, for example, has stated that he wants to end animal agriculture in the U.S. But Prop 2 didn’t say “if you vote for this, you’ll push egg production out of California.” Instead, Prop 2 was worded in a way that the uninformed might easily have voted for it. As Kellogg says, “The law is called ‘The Prevention of Cruelty of Farm Animals’... reading that, who wouldn't vote for it?”
Kellogg adds that Pacelle had an open mic during the entire show, while he and the other folks representing commercial agriculture did not. That meant Pacelle could talk over anyone, share information that may not have resembled the truth and could have the last word without argument or rebuttal.
Regardless, the Prop 2 is now law. It will become effective in 2015. And watch out in other states. Expect Farm Sanctuary and HSUS to use this momentum to carry the measure to other states with ballot initiatives and directly to state legislatures in those states that do not.
Banning horse slaughter in Illinois opened the door a crack. Prop 2 swings the door open even further.