16 October 2008

More Pork?

On the heels of last nights debate and the already heated discussion this morning about McCain Vs. Obama... And the Oprah special that aired on Tuesday about Where the Food We Eat Comes From and the potential of Proposition 2 to be passed in the General Election in California... I have no clue where I even want to start. And if I want to be overly opinionated or keep my opinion rather moderate...

So I think today we're going to talk about the Proposition 2 on California's ballot... Now - you may be wondering why something on California's ballot is a concern for a farm broadcaster from Central Illinois. Here is what Proposition 2 is:

This Act shall be known and may be cited as the
Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.

The purpose of this Act is to prohibit the cruel
confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to tum around
freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.

Chapter 13.8 (commencing with
Section 25990) is added to Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, to

25990. PROIlIllITIONS.- In addition to
other applicable provisions of law, a person
shall not tether or confine any
covered animal, on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that
prevents such animal from:
(a) Lying down, standing up, and fully extending
his or her limbs; and
(b) Turning around freely.

2599 I. DEFINITIONS.- For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms
have the following meanings:
(a) "Calf raised for veal" means any calf of the
bovine species kept for the
purpose of producing the food product described
as veal.
(b) "Covered animal" means any pig during pregnancy, calf raised for
veal, or
egg-laying hen who is kept on a farm.
(c) "Egg-laying hen" means
any female domesticated" chicken, turkey, duck,
goose, or guinea fowl kept
for the purpose of egg production.
(d) "Enclosure" means any cage, crate, or
other structure (including what is
commonly described as a "gestation crate"
for pigs; a "veal crate" for calves;
or a "battery cage" for egg-laying hens)
used to confine a covered animal.
(c) "Farm" means the land, building,
support facilities, and other equipment that
are wholly or partially used
for the commercial production of animals or
animal products used for food or
fiber; and docs not include live animal
(b) "Fully extending his
or her limbs" means fully extending all limbs without
touching the side of an
enclosure, including, in the case of egg-laying hens,
fully spreading both
wings without touching the side of an enclosure or other
(I) "Person" means any individual, finn , partnership, joint venture,
limited liability company, corporation , estate, trust,
receiver, or syndicate.
(g) "Pig during pregnancy" means any pregnant pig of
the porcine species kept
for the primary purpose of breeding.
(h) "Turning
around freely" means turning in a complete circle without any
including a tether, and without touching the side of an enclosure.

That being said - how does this affect Central Illinois agriculture? Actually - it doesn't just effect animal agriculture here... It could potentially effect how animals are raised all over the United States. By allowing a statute like this to be passed in one states - it opens a door to waves of these type laws to come in and take action and mandate how animals are being raised. Now I'm not saying we shouldn't care how or where are animals are grown. I am saying that these crates and cages for a reason - to raise healthy animals for American consumers to enjoy.

Here are some facts that the proponents of Prop 2 don't want you (the consumer) to know:

  1. This risky, dangerous, and costly ballot measure, sponsored by a well-funded, Washington, DC-based special interest group, has many negative, dangerous and expensive consequences for California. The measure jeopardizes our food safety and public health, putting us at greater risk for Salmonella and Avian Flu outbreaks; wipes out Californians’ access to locally grown, fresh eggs, and harms consumers by driving up prices at grocery stores and restaurants and creating a dependency on eggs shipped from other states and Mexico.
  2. Proposition 2 bans almost all current modern and safe housing systems for egg-laying hens on California’s egg farms; wiping out almost all modern egg production in the state. This dangerous measure jeopardizes food safety and public health in California, forces a reliance on out-of-state and foreign egg imports, and drives up restaurant and consumer prices.
  3. California egg farmers, working with leading animal scientists have developed modern housing systems to ensure that fundamental components of sound animal care are provided to egg-laying hens: optimal feed, light, air, water, space and sanitation for egg-laying hens. As recently reported in the news media, California and the nation’s food safety is already at risk with infection, poisoning and even death caused by food borne illnesses such as Salmonella. Banning these modern systems forces Californians to rely almost solely on egg imports at increased risk for dangerous diseases like Salmonella, which can be transmitted in the feces of egg-laying hens and other animals. Because California’s modern housing systems effectively separate eggs from feces and other fluids, Salmonella contamination has been virtually eliminated in California eggs over the last decade.
  4. Modern housing systems were developed to protect egg-laying hens from direct contact with migratory and wild birds, which can carry life threatening Avian Influenza (Bird Flu), Exotic Newcastle Disease and other diseases that can be deadly to humans or hens. According to the World Health Organization, transmission of Bird Flu from poultry to humans results in “very serious disease” and “could mark the start of a global outbreak (a pandemic)”. Proposition 2 wipes out almost all modern egg production in California, despite the U.S. Animal Health Association’s assertion that moving flocks inside has “contributed significantly to the improvement in health of the nation’s chicken and turkey flocks”.
  5. The cost to comply is at least 76 percent higher than that for current modern housing systems. California farmers would be obligated to build 8 to 16 times more hen houses as currently are in use to comply with the new law’s requirements and maintain current egg production. Buying the land and securing the necessary capital is prohibitively expensive and economically infeasible, given that California farmers will be forced to compete with out-of-state and foreign egg producers, who won’t be subject to these onerous restrictions.
  6. Yes, the humane treatment of animals, including farm animals, is already required by California law. Enclosing animals without proper care and treatment is prohibited and California law requires that animals have adequate room to “exercise” themselves. The United Egg Producers Certified Animal Welfare Program, established and maintained by an independent scientific advisory board, mandates that certified egg farmers follow responsible, science-based modern production methods in the care of their hens.

Here are some facts about modern food production:

  1. Modern housing systems were developed using independent scientific guidelines to ensure the fundamental components of animal care – optimal feed, light, air, water, space and sanitation for egg-laying hens. Modern housing systems for egg-laying hens are designed so hens can groom, lie down, stand, stretch, turn around and engage in other natural behaviors. By arbitrarily altering space configurations, Proposition 2 ignores how this change could negatively impact these other essential animal care components.

I know this is a lot of "technical" lingo that may or may not make sense. But the gist of it is this: The passage of Proposition 2 will undermine animal welfare and food safety in California (which could potentially bleed over into animal agriculture through the nation). It threatens food safety (free range chickens have a higher chance of carrying Salmonella). That alone jeopardizes public safety. AND It will drive up the cost to the consumer (you know - the more expensive it is to produce and the fewer eggs supplied leads to higher prices).

Just some food for thought... for the day.

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