California Ballot Initiative Aims to End Cruel Livestock Confinement Practices ‘Once and for All’

California Ballot Initiative Aims to Shift State Away From Cruel Livestock Confinement Practices 'Once and for All'
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More than 100 people gathered at Pollution Studios in Los Angeles last Saturday for the kickoff of the Prevent Cruelty California campaign, a measure led by animal welfare advocacy groups aimed at securing the necessary 600,000 signatures needed to guarantee the measure appears on the state’s November 2018 ballot.

If successful, the proposition will “guarantee that veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens aren’t locked in cramped cages inside California factory farms,” the Prevent Cruelty California website explains. “It will also ensure that meat and eggs sold in California meet this modest animal welfare and food safety requirement.”

The campaign is being spearheaded by sixteen animal rights organizations and food industry groups including The Humane Society of the United States, Mercy for Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion in World Farming, the Humane League, and Farm Sanctuary, as well as the Center for Food Safety. More groups are expected to show their support of the effort in the coming weeks.

The measure needs its 600,000 signatures by April 30th. If the groups succeed – and they seemed quite confident on Saturday they would – the measure would give Californians the chance to vote for providing tens of millions of farm animals with more space, a move MFA’s staff attorney and former undercover investigator Cody Carlson, says makes a significant difference in the lives of the animals. Carlson has seen first-hand the conditions factory farm animals endure, and says even an extra few inches for a chicken or pregnant sow could provide immeasurable quality of life differences for the millions of animals raised for food in the state. “There’s not one federal law looking out for these animals during their lives on the farm,” he told the crowd, explaining why the state-led measure is so critical.

The groups say the measure would provide more food safety guarantees for consumers as diseases become more rampant the closer the animals are confined together. “By ensuring better welfare standards for farm animals, this measure would result in safer food for California families,” the campaign website notes. If passed, the measure is expected to also provide more (and safer) jobs for farm workers in the state; and the groups say it would not drive up the cost of animal products at retail.

Musician, author, restaurateur, festival producer, and longtime animal rights activist, Moby, popped in to Saturday’s kick off to speak with the volunteers, urging them to help put California on the right side of history with this movement, a step he says is a necessary one on the road to a much more compassionate culture. “Of course the world will become vegan. We will stop using animals for human purposes,” Moby said. “The hope is that we figure this out while there’s still people on the planet.”

Californians may recall a similar measure that passed a decade ago called Prop 2. The landmark measure moved the state away from extreme confinement for farm animals. It helped to spur on significant changes in the industry that are now often commonplace, like cage-free eggs. Recent victories in states like Massachusetts have committed the livestock industry to even stronger requirements for animals – a sign that the coalition says means California’s progressive-leaning constituents could help move the industry even further for the animals.

“We have the opportunity to end these horrific forms of confinement in California once and for all,” said Carlson, “and to set a standard for the rest of the world to follow.”

Find out more at preventcrueltyca.com.

Videos via Jane Velez-Mitchell.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.