By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 at 7:15 am in Animal protection legislation.
It’s way past time to stop cruelty to 20 million factory farming animals.
This week, a broad coalition, including animal protection groups, veterinarians, environmentalists, and food safety advocates, begins collecting signatures to put an anti-cruelty initiative on the California ballot for November 2008.
Californians for Humane Farms will collect more than 650,000 signatures to place the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act on the general election ballot. The measure will help prevent cruelty to nearly 20 million animals confined in industrial factory farms in California, as well as protect California’s environment.
The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act provides basic protections requiring that animals be able to turn around and extend their limbs. It will prevent the use of inhumane factory farming practices such as keeping animals confined in small crates or cages — specifically, veal crates for calves, battery cages for egg-laying hens, and gestation crates for breeding pigs.
“It is exceedingly cruel to confine animals in cages so small they can’t turn around and extend their limbs,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “California citizens can help prevent farm animal cruelty by volunteering to gather signatures to put this historic initiative on the ballot.”
The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary are two of the groups sponsoring the initiative. The two organizations led a successful ballot initiative in Florida in 2002 which banned gestation crates for breeding pigs (55%-45%) and in Arizona in 2006 which banned crates for breeding pigs and veal calves (62%-38%). In 2007, the Oregon legislature banned gestation crates.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
** Veal crates are narrow wooden enclosures that prevent calves from turning around or lying down comfortably. The calves are typically chained by their necks and suffer immensely.
** California factory farms confine approximately 19 million hens per year in barren battery cages that are so small, the birds can’t even spread their wings. Each bird has less space than a single sheet of paper on which to live.
I remember writing a story about an egg farm in Gilroy, Calif., a couple of years ago. I was shocked when I entered a warehouse bigger than a couple of football fields. The stench was incredible. It was almost pitch black except for a few bare bulbs here and there so employees could see enough to remove dead hens from cages and toss them on the floor. I tripped over those dead bodies as I moved throughout the building.
Each tiny cage was stuffed with 6-8 hens, jammed in together so tight they were piled on top of each other. The top chickens were white. The ones on the bottom were black because they were covered with chicken poop from the hens on top. The chickens couldn’t move except to poop and lay eggs and barely stick their heads through the sides of the wire cages to peck at food as it passed by on a conveyor belt. It was horrible.
Underneath the cages another moving conveyor belt caught the eggs that fell from each cage and transported them to another room where they were prepared for delivery to local markets … and your refrigerator.
Needless to say, I’m definitely adding my signature to put this anti-cruelty initiative on the ballot.
** During their four-month pregnancies, nearly 20,000 female breeding pigs in California are confined in barren gestation crates—individual metal enclosures only 2 feet wide. The crates are so small, the animals cannot even turn around.
** The measure will prevent out-of-state factory farm operators from setting up shop in our state with veal crates, battery cages and gestation crates.
** Confining animals in crates or cages results in a high density of animals in industrial factory farms, leading to more animal waste and pollution of air and water, as well as risk of disease transmission such as salmonella.
The Humane Society of the United States: http://www.hsus.org
Farm Sanctuary: http://www.farmsanctuary.org
Sign a petition to put this initiative on the ballot when you have a chance. Thanks. /Gary