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In Charlotte’s Web, healthy animals romp around the farm, playing with their families, and enjoying a full life, fearful only of seeing their life reach its end. Many of us grew up believing farms were really like that, the image reinforced by commercials for burger joints and frozen foods. The reality of factory farms, unfortunately, is quite different.

During pregnancy, pigs are locked alone in gestation crates – metal cells only two feet wide. Without enough room to turn around, they often develop joint disorders that leave them unable to walk. They will bite at the metal bars, desperate to escape, but of course they are helpless. Hens on egg farms are crammed into battery cages, never once enjoying the freedom to spread their wings, let alone engage in natural behaviors such as nesting or dust bathing. Veal calves are taken from their mothers, just hours after birth, to live in crates with their necks chained in place, never able to move, held in a single position until the day they are butchered.

The animals’ torment is bad enough, but these conditions produce meat and eggs that threaten consumers’ health. Such stressed animals become sick, and because they are unnaturally crowded together, they spread diseases to one another at an accelerated rate.

Hens forced by their cramped conditions to defecate on their own eggs produce eggs that can spread Salmonella. More than 50,000 Americans fall victim to this disease every year, and a recent study found that facilities using battery cages were 20 times more likely to be contaminated than those that were cage-free.

As the Center for Food Safety put it, "Extreme intensive confinement can have potentially serious public health and food safety implications and should be phased out as is being done in the European Union."

Next week, California voters will finally have a chance to see these conditions phased out here. Proposition 2, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and endorsed by an array of consumer health and safety groups, will guarantee, very simply, that all California farm animals get enough room to turn around, stand up, lie down, and stretch their limbs.

This proposal is modest enough. Similar laws have already passed in Arizona, Colorado, and other states. Though factory farms decry this as government regulation that will hurt their profits, many family farms already practice the ethical standards Prop 2 would set. By their success, these family farmers prove it is possible to earn a fair profit while treating animals humanely and protecting consumer safety.

Unfortunately, these ethical farmers suffer a disadvantage when their competitors are allowed to cut corners. The status quo rewards farms that feed us sick and suffering animals, and it punishes farmers who raise animals in a natural, healthy fashion. Prop 2 will solve this. By requiring all farms to raise their animals humanely, Prop 2 will help ethical farmers enjoy more competitiveness while helping consumers find safer food. It is no surprise that more than 100 family farms in California support Prop 2, even while their big-agribusiness counterparts spend millions trying to defeat it.

Bottom line for voters: Prop 2 will deliver healthier food from more compassionate farms. This one deserves to pass overwhelmingly. Please support Prop 2.

And here's a video made by students:

Originally posted to foxfire burns on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 02:38 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This year, (13+ / 0-)

    California has a lot of terrible initiatives. The religious right wants to dictate who can call their partnership a marriage and who can obtain a safe, legal abortion.

    I’m grateful there’s at least one initiative designed to make things better.

    Celebrating youth history and nurturing the making thereof.

    by foxfire burns on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 02:39:36 PM PDT

  •  My parents grew beef cattle when I was young, (7+ / 0-)

    so very early on I understood where hamburgers come from. My grandfather and uncles hunted avidly, so likewise very early on I saw deer being skinned and butchered. I have no kind illusions about the origins of the food I enjoy.

    But at the same time, there is an immense difference between an animal having a single terrible awful very bad day at the end of its life, and not really having a life to speak of at all.

    And the other thing I took from growing up on a farm with cattle and other animals is that their eyes are not empty. They may not be thinking in the sense we are, but they certainly are feeling entities, and deserving some minimum standard of humane treatment.

    •  Very well said. (4+ / 0-)

      I've heard some factory farm apologists argue that, because these animals are going to be killed anyway, it doesn't matter how badly they are treated. But the fact is, all of us are going to die at some point, and all of us want a chance at living decently until then.

      Celebrating youth history and nurturing the making thereof.

      by foxfire burns on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 02:54:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        foxfire burns

        but the question is is THIS prop the right way to do it? I'm torn about this one and the renewable energy prop for teh same reasons - love the sentiments, but i'm not convinced that the prop themselves address the issues in the best way.

        •  If you see a better way to fix the problems, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          andydoubtless

          I'm sure the Humane Society and all the consumer safty groups behind Prop 2 would love to hear about it.

          Celebrating youth history and nurturing the making thereof.

          by foxfire burns on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 03:14:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No need to get snarky (0+ / 0-)

            I post a link below to a well thought out analysis of the prop and the legal fall out that will happen as a result of the prop passing. If it's going to result in a firestorm of lawsuits that will bring it to a screeching halt, then maybe there's a better way to do this. That's all I'm suggesting here.

            Like I said, I'm still torn about it myself. Of course I want to support it, but like the renewable energy, maybe there's a better way?

            Here's the link again,

            http://johnnycalifornia.com/...

            The suggestion made is that this is really a federal problem and should be mandated federally, so that egg farms from other states (for example) do not get an economic advantage. CA egg farmers are most certainly going to sue over this prop.. If these requirements are made federally, then no one has an advantage - and every animal benefits.

      •  Something interesting about this: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        foxfire burns

        my father, who is on most issues very much a conservative, actually appreciates this point. Lots of people who have lived and worked around animals in a traditional farm environment do, because they're the ones who understand the differences we're discussing most keenly.

  •  Yes on 2! (6+ / 0-)

    I have 2 egg-laying hens, and yesterday I posted a primer on keeping suburban backyard chickens.  My girls can take dirt baths (usually in my veggie garden), perch (usually on the patio table & chairs), nest (usually on the grill), and hunt and peck for snails and slugs to their heart's content.  If I don't vote yes on 2, they'll peck me to death.  

    I guess I'm just one of those bleeding heart sentimental liberal types.

    I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused

    by indigoblueskies on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 02:56:16 PM PDT

    •  I guess they really trust you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foxfire burns

      nesting on the grill and all. Good for you, I hope more people take up backyard chicken keeping. I'm not in a position to now - shoebox apartment in NYC - but someday...

      Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

      by m3 on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 03:16:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am voting yes on 2. Saw the commercial opposed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foxfire burns, Flaw

    to prop. 2, but last night started going over my booklet outlining the various props.  notice 2 would provide humane treatment for animals, even though it will not take effect until 2015.  Hope I read this right.

  •  While I support the sentiment of prop 2... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    m3

    I'm still not sure I can support the prop itself. I have been reading some about the flawed, well-meaning nature of this prop. Here is a link to a good synopsis of some opposition:

    http://johnnycalifornia.com/...

    "First off, there is no real pork or veal industry in California. Those Yes-On-2 commercials with the cute little piggies are a fiction. Prop. 2 isn’t saving pigs and calves because there really aren’t any to save. What California does have is a $400 million/year egg business, which is why Prop. 2 made it to the ballot. Prop. 2 is pretty much identical to laws passed in a few other states (which is why the pork and veal stuff is in there), the difference is the chicken cage requirements.

    If Prop. 2 passes, California would be the first state in the country to have chicken-cage requirements. This requirement is only for eggs produced in California, eggs shipped from other states and sold in California are not subject to the Prop. 2 requirements. Opponents of Prop. 2 are concerned that cheaper out-of-state eggs, with lower production costs, will flood the California market leaving our own egg producers at a competitive disadvantage and may not do much to help improve the treatment of chickens.  As the Los Angeles Times eloquently put it, “we fear the result of Proposition 2’s passage would not be better treatment of hens but merely the export of their mistreatment.” If you’re interested in more details, you can read all about it in this report from UC-Davis.

    Prop. 2 means well, but at the end of the day this is not a state issue, this is a federal issue. The USDA or Congress need to create a uniform chicken cage regulation that applies to all states, that way states aren’t punished by the market for treating their animals properly."

    I think the fact that this will be legally challenged makes me pause. On the other hand, I want to vote for humane treatment of animals - of course! It just seems like this may not be the best approach for this issue. I just don't know.

    •  Out-of-state eggs is a persuasive agrument until (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, Flaw

      you notice that the majority of funding for the No on 2 campaign is coming from out-of-state egg farms - teh very farms taht woudl rake in the profits if that really happened.

      Now you know and I know factory farms don't spend money to avoid making new profits and gaining new customers.

      The reality is this: the egg industry's own study showed Prop 2 would raise the cost of producing eggs by less than 1 penny per egg. When you consider the cost of trucking eggs from out of state, it's a wash.

      The reason out-of-state factory farms are spending money to oppose Prop 2 is becasue if it passes, their own states will follow suit and these farms will no longer able to cut corners at the expence of consumers and animals.

      Celebrating youth history and nurturing the making thereof.

      by foxfire burns on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 03:22:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's why the link (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        foxfire burns

        I post recommends a federal mandate on this issue.

        I have no idea how reasonable that is - the lobbyists may be too powerful? But it does seem like a federal requirement addressing these issues would certainly solve the competition problems/ objections.

        Will this prop be mired in legal battles if it passes?

        I will probably vote for it just b/c I don't think I can morally not do so. But I do find myself frustrated with this and prop 7. They are such great ideas, but the execution seems flawed. Maybe that's just the nature of these things when taking on a such complex problems.

        Thanks for the diary!

        •  Nail on the head. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gruvkitty

          The problem with federal legislation is lobbiests. The egg industry, currently under investigation for price-fixing, is rolling on money, and they can influence law-makers more easily than some humane and consumer safety non-profits.

          Californians spent more than a decade asking our law-makers to enact the standards set by Prop 2. The bill never got out of committee.

          The ballot initiative was created as a check against such politicians ignoring the will of the people. We can't buy politicians so we have to do an endrun around them. It's an unfortunate need, but I'm grateful there is a way to meet that need.

          Celebrating youth history and nurturing the making thereof.

          by foxfire burns on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 04:15:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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