Arizona Ballot Initiative Would Outlaw Gestation Stalls for Pork, Veal Producers

Gestation stall ban initiative needs 123,000 signatures by July 6 to put the measure on the November 2006 ballot.

Published on: Apr 5, 2006

Following Florida's suit, a ballot initiative is underway in Arizona that would outlaw gestation stalls for pork and veal producers.

The initiative is called the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act. The initiative needs 123,000 valid signatures by July 6 to put the measure on the November 2006 ballot. If passed, the law would take effect in 2012.

The Campaign for Arizona Farmers and Ranchers, a broad coalition including the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, Arizona Cattlemen's Association, United Dairymen of Arizona and the Arizona Pork Council, says it is poised to fight the effort every step of the way.

"They [Arizonans for Humane Farms] figured they weren't going to get much of a fight down here, but we're a tight knit family in agriculture," says Jim Klinker, chairman of the Campaign for Arizona Farmers and Ranchers and Arizona Farm Bureau Federation executive secretary.

Klinker says the approximately 180 hog producers in the state run the gamut from sizeable operations to the "4-H and FFA projects guy."

One of the few operations in Arizona that would be affected by passage of the measure is located in Navajo County, in the northeastern corner of the state.

According to Klinker, the operation is approximately the third largest employer in the region. In addition, the operation uses significant amounts of Midwestern corn, rippling the effect well beyond Arizona that the ballot measure could have.

The Arizonans for Humane Farms, funded by non-Arizona entities such as the Humane Society of the U.S. and the New York-based Farm Sanctuary, says it will far surpass the 122,612 Arizona voter signatures it needs by July 6 to place its measure on the November ballot and raise the millions necessary to get the initiative passed.

In 2002, Farm Sanctuary funded a similar ballot campaign in Florida that led to a revision of the state constitution providing protection for pregnant pigs and ultimately drove a handful of small farmers out of business.

Out-of-Arizona organizers are funneling the bulk of funding into the campaign. One of the organizers, New York-based Farm Sanctuary, was fined $50,000 by the Florida Elections Commission for 210 counts of campaign finance fraud during a similar 2002 campaign in Florida.