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Food Politics

Politics of the Plate: The Crate Escape

California has banned the close confinement of farm animals, and other states may soon follow its lead.
celebrating prop 2

Some 20 million caged California farm animals won a major victory on Tuesday night. They would have clapped their claws, hooves, and trotters if they could have—but the sad fact is that most laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves in the state are confined so tightly that they have no space for normal movement.

By 2015 that will end. Despite a $9 million campaign by agribusiness to defeat the measure, Californians voted by an overwhelming two-thirds margin in favor of the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. Called “Prop 2,” the ballot initiative requires that livestock be provided with enough space to stand up, turn around, and extend their limbs. It’s still a far cry from free range, but it’s better than some current confinement practices, which, in my opinion, basically amount to torture.

“California voters have taken a stand for decency and compassion and said that the systematic mistreatment of animals on factory farms cannot continue,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, one of the groups that pushed hard for the act’s passage.

Factory farmers across the country should take a moment to ponder that old saying, “As California goes, so goes the nation.”