By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 at 7:02 am in Farm Animals.
Calif. Legislature Presses Ahead with Animal Welfare Reforms
Both houses of the California legislature passed important farm animal welfare legislation on Tuesday, in the wake of the passage of Prop. 2 in November.
Introduced in February by California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter), S.B. 135 passed the Senate Tuesday by a vote of 25-12 with bipartisan support. If enacted, S.B. 135 would ban the painful and unnecessary tail docking of dairy cows, and it previously passed the Senate Food & Agriculture, Public Safety, and Appropriations committees in the run-up to Tuesday’s vote.
The bill’s supporters include The Humane Society of the United States, the California Veterinary Medical Association and the ASPCA.
Minutes later, also in a bipartisan 49-9 vote, the California Assembly passed A.B. 1437, which would require that all whole eggs sold in California as of January 1, 2015, be in compliance with the basic animal care standards set forth in Prop. 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which voters approved in November 2008 with 63.5 percent favoring the measure. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), gained unanimous support from the Assembly Agriculture and also cleared the Appropriations committees.
“The landslide passage of Prop. 2 in November demonstrated that Californians want to see the humane treatment of all animals, including those raised for food,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Today, lawmakers began to build on the passage of Prop. 2, with the Senate addressing the problem of tail docking of cattle and the Assembly granting additional protections for egg-laying hens, passing legislation to forbid the sale of whole eggs produced from hens in lifelong confinement in battery cages.”
Last week the Assembly also voted overwhelmingly and in strong bipartisan fashion to help curb the abuses of puppy mills in California by passing A.B. 241, introduced by Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), which would prohibit any large-scale production facilities from possessing more than 50 unsterilized dogs or cats.
That same day the Assembly unanimously approved A.B. 708, also by Huffman, which would increase penalties for those convicted of poaching, a serious and growing threat to California’s wildlife species and biodiversity.
On Thursday (May 28) the full Assembly will take up Nava’s bill (A.B. 243) to require judges to prohibit felons convicted of animal cruelty from owning animals for a period of time.
“We are so grateful that even as the Legislature grapples with an extraordinary and vexing budget dilemma, they are seeing fit to enact modest reforms that have no budgetary implications but that will have a dramatic and positive impact on animals,” said The HSUS’s Jennifer Fearing. “There’s no doubt now that passage of Prop. 2 in November has changed the tenor of the debate. We can do better in California, and we will work with members and the Governor as these animal protection bills advance, to assure that we do.”
** S.B. 135: There are approximately 1.8 million cows raised for milk on 2,200 farms in California, the nation’s top dairy-producing state. Recent efforts by the California dairy industry estimate prevalence of the practice at 10-15% of in-state dairies.
** A.B. 1437: Research shows that consumers eating eggs from caged hens have a significantly higher risk of contracting Salmonella poisoning compared to those eating cage-free or organic eggs.
** A.B. 241: Puppy mills are facilities that mass-produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet, and directly to the public. The conditions at these facilities are overcrowded and cruel.
** A.B. 708: Wildlife officials estimate that for every wild animal killed legally another is killed illegally. With tens of millions of animals legally hunted each year, the number of animals poached is staggering. The black market take in poached wildlife is estimated at more than $100 million a year. Abalone, salmon, sturgeon, deer and bear are especially vulnerable.
In a landslide November vote, Californians approved the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act — a new law making it a criminal offense (with a phase-out period) to confine hens in battery cages, pigs in gestation crates and calves in veal crates. /Gary