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Animals in the voting booth

The November ballot just got bigger. Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified an initiative measure on humane treatment of farm animals. Here's the title and summary from the attorney general's office:

Treatment of Farm Animals. Statute. Requires that an enclosure or tether confining specified farm animals allow the animals for the majority of every day to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up, and turn around. Specified animals include calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens, and pregnant pigs. Exceptions made for transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research and veterinary purposes. Provides misdemeanor penalties, including a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment in jail for up to 180 days. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Probably minor local and state enforcement and prosecution costs, partly offset by increased fine revenue.

For the full text, go to the attorney general's site here. Check out the proponents here.

Unlike the June 3 stealth election ballot, the November 4 election is expected to draw a huge turnout because, of course, it is the presidential election. The conventional wisdom calculates lots of liberal Democrats voting, which could bode well for an animal rights measure.

So far there are two ballot measures in November. The other one is a bond for a high-speed passenger train system.


Comments () | Archives (39)

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The saddest part about this issue is that the Humane Society of the United States, inherent abusers of the voter initiative and referendum process, will pump $MILLIONS into the campaign from people all across the country who believed their money was going to help animals in rescue shelters.

Melanie Blake

If factory farms and slaughterhouses were made of glass, everyone with a heart and a conscience would be on a plant-based diet. All animals are sentient beings, yet in the United States animals used for food are treated like unfeeling "tools of prouduction". The cruelty and suffering these animals endure for the sake of an unhealthy meal is deplorable. Besides, there is overwhelming undisputable scientific research showing that a plant based diet would reduce and many cases eliminate all our now common diseases, heart, cancer, diabetes and obesity. It is shameful how the truth is hidden from the public for the sake of dollars and paying for it in medical bills.

Marji B.

I think it's great voting consumers get a chance to determine how the animals, whose meat and eggs consumers eat ,are housed.

Most people are unaware of how egg-laying hens, veal calves and pregnant sows are confined. And when made aware, most people are rightfully appalled by the living conditions these animals endure for months, sometimes years.

I certainly hope people will vote for the animals in the upcoming election. I know I will.


I can't wait to vote yes on this initiative. Farm animals in California deserve better.

Ange Billman

This is the best news I've had in a LONG time! I will be at the poles to vote YES on this measure for sure!!!! I am a meat eater but, like most Americans in this country, I do not want ANY kind of animal to be tortured or to suffer a long, cruel existance just so I can put them on my plate. We all get the concept that animals have to die in order for us to consume them, but that doesn't mean we can't treat them humanely and kill them as quickly and painlessly as possible. I am willing to pay extra money for the insurance that the animal I eat led a life that would be fine for any 5 year-old to watch on a live-feed web camera....if you know what I mean. My mom grew up on a farm and as a child she understood what it meant when it was time to kill the family pig, but even at that age, she was comforted by the first-hand knowledge that the pig had lived a good life. I hope that we can move in that direction with ALL living things on this planet.

Lynda Hitchin

I have been wondering how long it will take society to evolve to the point of demanding humane treatment for animals. It is certainly a relief to know that there is something we can do to help them by voting. I plan to spread the word to all my friends and neighbors. There is so much mistreatment of animals that we can all see how much needs to be done for dogs, cats and for farm animals. The passage of this measure will be a great stride forward.


Animals need our voices and legal protection or else they end up abused and neglected. Putting animal welfare into our moral and legal code is necessary to ensure that they are treated with compassion. The industry that profits off of them does not care whether or not they are terrified, in pain and uncomfortable, or under extreme stress. We need to do something to change this.

Laura Beck

I am so excited about this! Animals on Factory Farms live the worst possible lives and this will give them at least a little bit of room to move around during their short lives. It's not nearly enough but it's something.

Claire Kim

Congratulations to the Humane Society of the United States for taking this historic step to help the animals we raise for food. When Californians find out about the unthinkable conditions under which these animals live, they will support this initiative. Finally, a chance to accomplish something real and tangible for animals! I am proud to support this initiative.

Dr Laurie Powell

The first post reads: "The saddest part about this issue is that the Humane Society of the United States...will pump $MILLIONS into the campaign from people...who believed their money was going to help animals in rescue shelters." I am a member of the HSUS and very much appreciate the fact that, not only do they care about dogs and cats, but also about cows, pigs, and chickens. These are all intelligent, emotional, social, unqiuely individual earthlings. One group should not be protected while another is so intensely confined that its members cannot engage in natural behaviors. One group should not know human compassion while the other is subjected to harsh human cruelty. Meat is not necessary to sustain human life and in fact, contributes to disease and early death. According to a United Nations Report, the meat industry contributes more to global warming than the transportation industry. Even if you choose to eat animals, you should support a measure that will allow them enough room to turn around in their tiny cages before giving up their lives for you. It's the least you can do. Give farm animal some minimal protection, as they are no different in nature from our beloved pets.

Pradipta Ghosh

As a Physician, I applaud the Humane Society of the US and the public for wanting this measure on the November ballot. It is well documented that animals under stress release hormones which adversely affect our health. Providing farm animals with more humane living conditions will not only be beneficial to our health, but will also be a testament to our commitment to morality as a civilization. In the the words of M.K. Gandhi, 'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.' Please vote 'Yes' on the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals.


It's hard to believe that animals don't have the ability to stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs now. These are animals who live almost as though they were inanimate--confined in conditions that would drive a person crazy in short order. The pigs look like they go crazy, too; the way they rock and bite on the bars. They are not inanimate. It's almost insulting to ask for so little for them. But we should certainly not accept less; the way they currently live. We can change this, and I will wait in line if need be to vote to do so this November. It is the decent thing to do.

Pradipta Ghosh

As a Physician, I applaud the Humane Society of the US and the public for their initiative in getting this measure onto the November ballot. It is well documented that animals in stressful environments release hormones which, when ingested by us, are deleterious to our health. It follows then that if farm animals are raised in more humane conditions, it will not only benefit us; but will also be a testament to our commitment to morality as a civilization. In the words of M. K. Gandhi, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Please vote 'Yes' in November for the Humane treatment of Farm Animals.

Barbara Scott

Few people have the courage to view the many undercover videos (i.e. HSUS.org)
that document horrific farmed animal abuse--inflicted every day in factory farms
and slaughter plants everywhere. Animals literally tortured to death who suffer
a wide variety of constant, ever increasing agonies unto death. Body-tight confine-
ment & transport, beatings, electric prodding, overcrowding to the point of breaking
limbs, slaughter while still consious, drownings in boiling water, repeated artificial
inseminations, babies torn away at birth to suffer & starve alone, crippled dairy
cows, downer animals being dragged...its called exploiting defenseless animals for
profit and greed. Gail Sheehey's "Slaughterhouse" is a must read for the courageous.
Great men like Lincoln and Einstein believed that civilized people must stand
for animal rights. Now, Good People!...in November we can vote in the start of
humane treatment for farmed animals. I say God Speed!

Patrick Sullivan

This is really great--I've been concerned about animals suffering on factory farms for a long time. It's fantastic that California voters are finally getting a chance to establish some basic humane standards. I'm really looking forward to voting yes in November.

Jessica Pratt

It is such good news that this ballot measure will happen in conjunction with the presidential election, guaranteeing a large voter turnout. What type of person could ever vote against a measure to better conditions for animals in our meat industry (as if they could be much worse)? Not me! Hopefully this will also serve as an opportunity for people to learn about the conditions that animals endure every day of their short lives just to become food on our plate. Once you start to learn about what goes on in CAFOs there is no way to ignore it!

lonna richmond

If you have ever had the pleasure of getting to know a chicken or a pig you would realize that they, when treated like a pet, will behave as one. i knew a wonderful pig named greta, who, when i drove into the driveway (in rural florida) came running from wherever she was in her enclosure, to greet me at the gate. the california humane farming act is the least we can do for these sentient beings.

Armaiti May

I am a veterinarian and animal advocate, and am thrilled to know this ballot initiative will be on the CA ballot in November 2008. I along with many others who believe cows, hens, and pigs deserve basic considerations including the ability to stand up, lie down, and turn around, will be voting YES for this important measure! I encourage people to follow a whole-foods plant-based diet wherever feasible (and am vegan myself). But before everyone goes veg, we should at least have legislation which prevents the worst confinment cruelty of these sentient animals on factory farms.

Patrick Sullivan

Hmmm...my earlier comment didn't get posted, so here's another try. I've been concerned for a long time about how animals are treated on big corporate farms. The incredibly small cages and other enclosures may increase profits for factory farmers, but they are profoundly inhumane. I think consumers care pretty deeply about this issue, but they have a tough time translating their good intentions into meaningful action. The fact that voters here in California are going to get a chance to set some minimum humane standards is really great.

Mark Hawthorne

As one of countless volunteers who helped collect signatures to get this on the ballot, I am thrilled -- though not surprised -- this measure will go before voters on November 4. People are shocked when they learn how farmed animals are treated, and such people were eager to sign my petitions. This initiative is about human decency and giving animals a little comfort. For more information, please visit http://www.humanecalifornia.org/

Janet L

I can't wait to vote for this initiative.

Why didn't our legislators pass a law requiring the humane treatment of farm animals a long time ago? That would have saved the California taxpayers the cost of putting this proposition on the ballot. Could large donations to our legislators' coffers by the factory farm industry be the reason that they didn't introduce and pass such a bill?


I am so excited to read about this! Keeping animals in cages so small that they can barely move is incredibly inhumane and unnecessary. I know I will be voting YES in November!

Kiley Stephens

This is such an amazing, positive step toward reducing and one day ending animal cruelty. I am confident that we can pass this initiative, it just has to be done-- for the animals, and for the sake of all compassion on this Earth.

Tricia McC.

The passing of this initiative is vital to both animals and people in CA. Inhumane treatment of animals cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. How we treat those most vulnerable is a reflection of who we are as individuals and a society as a whole. And for people who consume meat and dairy, it is vital that those "products" come from clean, healthy animals. Why and/or how anyone can be against this initiative in beyond me. This isn't a "liberal" vs. "conservative" issue. It is not even about being an "animal lover." It is simply about basic rights and humane treatment of animals. Thank you Humane Society for continued necessary and important work.


It is sad that it has taken us so long to admit that not only is this treatment inhumane but also unhealthy for us as consumers of animal products. Europe and other countries already practice humane treatment and the US has always chosen to try to ignore the issue. Now is the time to stand up for the right action and vote for this measure. It is a minimal step in my opinion but it is better than the treatment that exists today. I'm SOO glad to have the opportunity to vote on this measure and will be telling all family and friends to vote for it as well!

Jennifer Johnson

This is great! I'm so glad that we're going to have the chance to do something to help animals, who cannot speak out for themselves, and cut back a little on the pain and misery they experience in factory farms. As humans we are supposed to have the most intelligence of all species, I think it's time we used it to care about other beings that feel pain just like us. This is a chance for us to take a great leap forward in our evolution toward being not only intelligent, but compassionate and thoughtful.


This truly is a first step in the right direction towards compassion for ALL animals beyond our pets. If everyone only knew what goes on inside factory farms, slaughterhouses and the like; public outcry would be immense.

I can't wait to vote YES on this.

Jeanine Taylor

It's somewhat of a sad statement that as a society we've reached a point of such profound disconnection from the daily suffering of sentient non-human animals, that we must legislate even minimally humane treatment of animals raised for food. But here we are, and as a native Californian, I'm proud we're taking the lead on such an important issue. Remember to vote for a more compassionate future for all this November!


It's hard to believe that minor concessions -- like the ability to stand and turn around in comfort -- require a vote. It's sad that we need to have a measure for such basic decency. I can't wait to vote for it!

Sherrie Lynn Tullsen-Chin

This is a wonderful opportunity for compassionate vegetarians and meat eaters to come together for a cause we can both get behind: our conviction that animals raised for food deserve to have a life free from pain, humiliation, chronic stress, deprivation of their most basic instincts and needs, and devoid of anything closely resembling joy! It's only a step, but it's voters chance to tell the meat producers of California what consumers want and what they'll have to do to get our dollars. That is, after all, what they're chasing. We can't wait for or assume the producers are going to follow humane guidelines, we must strongly express our insistence on it, and this November we will have a chance to do that by voting yes on the Treatment of Farm Animals Statute.

Before you dismiss this initiative because you think that's just the way things are or it will become too expensive to treat animals humanely, I ask you to think of a beloved pet, and what you would do to save that pet from danger or an untimely death if you could. I and the animals are only asking for a fraction of the same commitment to their well-being. If we really can't find a way to raise animals for food that's economical and humane, is that the end of the argument or is there a bigger question we have to ask ourselves?

Susanne Dyby

It is a good start for the farming industry to begin to meet farm animals' basic needs; the most minimal of requirements (space to turn around: to find out that this even needs to be legislated tells us a lot about the daily barbarity in this industry). I wonder at the many exceptions — it's okay to abuse animals and cause them further suffering during transport, at livestock fairs, rodeos, and as research animals, they can be crammed together and allowed to suffer? This is not a society we can be proud of. Let's change it for the better!

Vectorpedia (Rick)

I believe California voters will say "yes" to this issue.......animals should not be subject to abuse or suffering.

Tanya Kadi

I had never worked on a petition before, but when I started this one a neighbor's hen decided to come and live with me. Coincidence? Yeah, but how cool to now have this awesome pet chicken, Bockbock. She greets me at the gate every day when I come home, and perches happily on my arm to take a nap. I was disgusted in doing research of factory farms. It made me sick and embarrassed to be a part of the human race. Please let's all vote for this historic measure--why this kind of thing has to be legislated? Corporate greed, that's why.


This is a much needed step forward. Kudos to Humane California for this important work. As Ghandi said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Nora Kramer

This initiative is such a fantastic opportunity for people to get more informed about how animals on factory farms are treated, and for us to make a difference for over 20 million animals who cannot even turn around or extend their limbs or wings.

I am thrilled to have an opportunity to vote on this issue in November.

karen bert

If the animal you are eating suffered a terrible life and death, then you are serving suffering on a plate. That is just bad all around. For the animal, for us. We should revere the animal that gave it's life for us so we can eat. It's too bad that this needs to be a proposition and is not already law in this country.

Sujatha Ramakrishna, M.D.

I helped collect signatures for this initiative, and it was amazing how many people thought that there were already laws in place protecting these animals, and were appalled to find out how they are actually treated. Once they find out the truth, most Californians will support this measure.

Sophie Hood

I hate to imagine a mother pig, a calf or a hen confined to a cage for almost its entire life without ever being able to stretch, lay down or turn around. The thought of it brings instant tears to my eyes.

Truth hurts. And there is yet so much to be learned about the Factory Farm industry, most of which people are not aware of or just don't care enough of.

I used to be one until I joined in on the fight against animal cruelty, at which point I became a vegetarian (one of the best choices I've ever made). I still get upset when I think back to all the meat I used to eat and how careless I was about where they came from.

Voting Yes for the animals will be a good step. But try not eating them. Now that's triumphant!

Glenn Yeck

Please vote "Yes" in Nov 2008 for the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals statute/ballot initiative. It seems that most Americans would, if they were only aware of the immense cruelties inherent to factory farming. Thanks and kudos to the Humane Society for helping to lead the charge. // Glenn Yeck, UCLA School of Law, Animal Law Society



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