Ballot signals an end to factory farming in the US
A new era in animal agriculture has been ushered in with the approval of a historic ballot measure to stop the inhumane confinement of animals on factory farms in the US state of California. The Humane Society of the United States was a lead supporter of this measure.
Widely regarded as the most ambitious ballot measure for animals ever undertaken in the US, its passage ends the practice of confining animals raised for food in crates and cages so small that they can barely move. The measure applies to breeding pigs, veal calves and egg laying hens, and requires that factory farms provide enough space for animals to stand up, turn around and extend their limbs. It goes into effect in January of 2015, giving factory farms six years to shift to different housing systems.
“This is a historic vote for animal welfare that will reverberate around the world,” said Verna Simpson, HSI Director. “It demonstrates a stand for decency and compassion, and asserts that the inhumane and systematic mistreatment of animals will not be tolerated.”
Concern about the mistreatment of animals in factory farms is gathering global momentum. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pig producer, and Maple Leaf, the largest pig producer in Canada, are phasing-out gestation crates, while the American Veal Association voted to urge the entire US veal industry to phase out veal crates. The European Union has already banned veal crates, and is phasing out barren battery cages by 2012 and gestation crates by 2013. Meanwhile, several European countries have enacted protection for farm animals that exceeds EU measures.
“Australia has around 500 million animals currently in factory farming environments where brutal practices prevail,” said Ms Simpson. “The passage of this measure is a wake up call to the Australian agriculture industry. They cannot continue to ignore the weight of public opinion that these practices are outdated and unnecessarily cruel. Intensive animal farming practices in this country need to be brought into the 21st century. They are going to have to change to keep pace with the rest of the world.”
Humane Society International is in the process of launching our very own “Humane Choice” label for animal-derived food products. This initiative will initially cover free range beef, pork, lamb, chicken and eggs, and will guarantee consumers that the animal has been treated with respect and care, from birth through to death.