Most of us were fixated on the running of the presidential horse race. (The big money was on Obama.) But coming up on the far left (California) was a ballot initiative with huge future implications for the U.S. livestock industry.
Proposition 2 passed by a three to one margin. “Prop 2” requires that all farm animals, “for all or the majority of any day,” not be confined or tethered in a manner that prevents an animal from lying down, standing up, turning around or extending its limbs without touching another animal or an enclosure such as a cage or stall.
It specifically addresses modern cage and cage-free housing for hens and stalls for sows and veal calves. Effective January 1, 2015, it carries criminal penalties for violations, including fines and jail terms.
Sure, that’s just in California. But four other states already have such regulations. New Jersey agriculture has been fighting off efforts by animal rights and welfare groups such as Farm Sanctuary and Humane Society of the United States for years. These same advocacy groups are hard at work building constituency groups in Pennsylvania and New York to name just a few states.
This win will ‘fire their bellies’
As HSUS President Wayne Pacelle prophesied as the votes were being tallied, “Life is going to get better for millions of farm animals.”
Please read Harold Harpster’s Stock Notes column in December’s American Agriculturist. He cites information from the recent Pew Commission report on “Industrial Farm Animal Production. That information will be leveraged to the hilt against animal agriculture. This issue could close the doors on most confined animal facilities – if you’re content to “wish it would go away.” It won’t! It’s going to intensify.
Unless housing systems change dramatically, we’ll likely be importing most of our chicken, pork and veal from places like Mexico and China by 2020 – only 12 years from now. Then consumers will have far more to complain about than sky-high prices. But that’s okay, according to the “Free Henny, Babe and Gordy” advocates. They don’t want you to eat meat anyway.