Unitarian Universalists of the SCV will host a speaker from the Humane Society of the United States to discuss Proposition 12, a ballot measure to prevent farm animal cruelty, on Sunday, July 29. Many residents of the Santa Clarita Valley signed or gathered signatures for the initiative campaign to get Proposition 12 on the November ballot.
Known as the Farm Animal Confinement initiative, Proposition 12 wants to establish new minimum space requirements for confining veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens, which would be required to be raised in cage-free environments after Dec. 31, 2021. The measure would prohibit certain commercial sales of specified meats and egg products from animals in non-complying confined spaces.
Advocates of the measure say less crowding will reduce the need for overuse of antibiotics and reduce water quality problems created when animals are confined together.
New vs. Old
About 10 years ago, the Humane Society developed Proposition 2 to ban the confinement of veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens that would not let them turn around freely, lie down, stand up or fully extend their limbs. The law went into effect in 2015. However, Prop. 2 did not provide any specific square footage in defining prohibited confinement — rather, size restrictions were based upon the animal. Thus, opponents, such as the Association of California Egg Farmers, argued the limitations were too vague to pass.
According to the state legislative analyst who prepared the fiscal statement for the initiative, there will be a potential decrease in state and local tax revenues from farm businesses with potential state costs ranging up to $10 million annually to enforce the measure.
The Humane Society is one of the biggest supporters and contributors of Proposition 12, and provided more than $2 million in cash and in-kind services. Deanne Thompson, outreach coordinator with the Humane Society, expressed her support of the proposition.
“There are so many benefits. For instance, for human health, when you force animals to live in a confined area, you have to give them antibiotics, and people don’t want that in our food anymore because it’s making us immune to antibiotics,” Thompson said.
Mercy for Animals, an international nonprofit organization, also supports Prop. 12. Director of Communications Kenny Torrella spoke on behalf of Mercy for Animals and why they favor the initiative:
“This measure will prevent cruelty, especially extreme confinement and, at this moment, not a single federal law protects these animals. We’re looking to make Prop. 2 even stronger and make California the leader as the most humane state. It’s time for California to upgrade to Prop 2 and ensure guidelines are met for farm animals,” Torrella said.
However, several organizations are not very happy with the new initiative. According to the Ballotpedia website, Jim Monroe, spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said, “Livestock production practices should be left to those who are most informed about animal care — farmers — and not animal rights activists. Additionally, changes in housing systems, which come with significant costs that increase food prices, should be driven by consumer purchasing decisions, not the agenda of any activist group.
The presentation is scheduled noon on Sunday, July 29, at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, 22900 Market St., Santa Clarita, CA 91321.