|Will animal rights advocates one day oppose hoof-trimming protocols?
California's sweeping decision to overhaul the confinement practices of its egg-laying, veal and sow sectors sets the stage for similar laws in other states and livestock sectors, say groups that sponsored the legislation.
"Proposition 2 will mandate a higher standard for the treatment of animals raised for food, a measure that is sure to lead to similar reforms nationwide,” the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said a day after the Nov. 4 election that approved the initiative, known as Standards for Confining Farm Animals.
Under Prop 2, producers are prohibited from confining animals "for the majority of any day” in a manner that prevents them from turning around freely, lying down, standing up and fully extending their limbs. The new law takes effect in 2015.
"The passage of Prop 2 in the country's largest agricultural state marks a monumental victory for farm animals,” Farm Sanctuary said.
U.S. farm interests feel differently.
"What will Prop 2 proponents try to dictate next: calf-raising operations, hoof trimming?” asks Michael Marsh, CEO of Western United Dairymen. "If a cow needs medical treatment, will they say she can't be locked up?
"This should serve to galvanize the beef, dairy, poultry and swine industries to do a better job of defining our operations before the public,” he adds.
According to Marsh, HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle told officials at the California Department of Food and Agriculture after the election that his group will be opening an office in Sacramento and will target the dairy industry next.
To overcome the emotional appeal and large bank account that HSUS will rely on for that campaign, Marsh says, "We are going to have to be very good in implementing strategy.
"There's a disconnect between consumers buying ice cream at the store and understanding that it comes from milk produced on a dairy farm,” he says. "They have no idea of the management techniques on farms.”
The public is also uninformed about the motives of HSUS, Marsh says. "It is a vegan organization whose agenda is to eliminate animal protein from the human diet.”
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