Factory farming is widely recognized as harmful and inhumane. Even staunch defenders of animal agriculture like television chef Anthony Bourdain are waking up. Bourdain recently criticized industrial farming systems on Larry King Live, saying they are “unconscionable and border on the criminal.” With growing awareness, we are finally beginning to see laws enacted to stop egregious abuses, which are outside the bounds of acceptable conduct in our society.
Responding to consumer concerns, America’s largest pork and veal companies have announced that they are phasing out the use of crates that so severely confine animals that they cannot walk or turn around. In November 2008, a citizens’ initiative in California was approved by voters with a nearly 2 to 1 margin to ban the use of veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages. To date, seven states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Maine, and Oregon – have outlawed at least one of these cruel systems, and more are poised to follow.
When agribusiness leaders in Michigan met with humane advocates last year, they agreed to phase out veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages. But in Ohio, industry officials refused overtures to seek common ground and rushed forward with legislation to codify an industry controlled Livestock Care Standards Board to oversee farm animal welfare issues in the state. Short sighted agribusiness representatives have gloated proudly about this board, assuming it will allow them to maintain the intolerable status quo on industrial farms. However, humane minded citizens have a different idea, and it doesn’t involve cramming animals into cages and crates so tightly that they cannot move.
Ohioans for Humane Farms was recently formed to run a statewide initiative campaign to require Ohio’s Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt minimal humane reforms that require animals to be given at least enough space to stand up, lie down, turn around, and stretch their limbs. That is not asking very much. In fact, it’s shocking that animals have been forced to live like this in the first place.
Like all animals, farm animals have feelings, and they deserve to be protected from cruelty. In the coming months, we will be working to gather more than 600,000 signatures from Ohioans to get a measure on the ballot that will not only ban cruel confinement systems, but also stop the slaughter of downed cattle for human consumption and prohibit grossly inhumane killing methods. We can do this, but we need the help of people like you. No matter where you live, there is a way for you to participate in this historic effort. Find out how today.