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California Secretary of State Debra Bowen today certified an anti-cruelty ballot initiative for the statewide general election on November 4, 2008. Californians for Humane Farms, sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary and other animal protection groups, family farmers, veterinarians and public health professionals, said the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act will provide the most basic protection to nearly 20 million animals confined in industrial factory farms in California: that they merely be able to turn around and extend their limbs.
When approved in November, the Act will prevent California factory farms from confining animals in the most restrictive crates or cages—specifically, veal crates for calves, battery cages for egg-laying hens, and gestation crates for breeding pigs. The new law would take effect in 2015, allowing producers ample time to transition to more humane and environmentally sustainable systems.
"Across California, millions of farm animals are crammed into cages so small they can barely move for months on end," stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "We're heartened that nearly 800,000 Californians signed to put this important anti-cruelty initiative on the ballot, and we look forward to November, when Californians will vote to establish the principle in law that animals raised for food deserve humane treatment."
"Americans oppose cruelty and believe that animals, including farm animals, deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. Hundreds of thousands of Californians signed petitions circulated by volunteers to place the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act on the ballot," said Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary. "In November, Californians will have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the ballot box and outlaw some of the worst factory farm abuses."
The HSUS has offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento, about 1.2 million supporters in California as well as a wildlife rehabilitation center in San Diego County. Farm Sanctuary operates the largest farm animal rescue and sheltering network in North America, including a 300-acre sanctuary in Northern California. The two organizations led a successful 2002 Florida ballot initiative that banned gestation crates (55%-45%) and in Arizona in 2006 that banned gestation and veal crates (62%-38%). In 2007, the Oregon legislature banned gestation crates. Recently, The HSUS investigated a dairy cow slaughter plant in Chino, Calif., and documented appalling abuses of downer cows.
- 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.
- 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 Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act will reduce the suffering of nearly 20 million animals confined on California factory farms. The measure will also prevent other out-of-state factory farm operators from setting up shop in our state with veal crates, battery cages, and gestation crates.
- Caging animals in high densities leads to more animal waste and air and water pollution, as well as risk of disease transmission such as salmonella.
- Florida, Arizona and Oregon have prohibited gestation crates. Arizona has prohibited veal crates. A bill in Colorado is awaiting the governor's signature to ban both gestation crates and veal crates. And the European Union has already legislated against all three of these abuses.
- In California and across the country, restaurants, producers, and retailers—including Safeway, Burger King, Carl's Jr. and Hardees, Wolfgang Puck, Smithfield Foods, San Francisco State University, and University of California-Berkeley—are moving away from supporting crates and cages on factory farms. California city councils have passed resolutions opposing battery cage confinement.
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