Could Prop 2 impact the dairy industry?

As Election Day draws near, debate on Proposition 2 heats up in California and across the nation. Prop 2 continues to generate attention, including recent appearances by proponents on the Oprah Winfrey show and the Ellen Degeneres show.

            Prop 2 prohibits veal calves, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs from being tethered or confined in such a way that they cannot lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs, or turn around freely without touching the sides of an enclosure, during the majority of the day.

            Studies from the University of California-Davis have suggested that Prop 2 will eliminate the California egg industry.

            Dairy is not specifically listed on the proposition, but veterinarians in California say the dairy industry could be impacted.

            Pete Kistler, veterinarian with Valley Veterinarians in Tulare, Calif., points out that in 2006 the Mendes Calf Ranch in nearby Tipton, Calif., was sued by the Animal Legal Defense fund. The calf ranch was accused of animal cruelty and keeping calves in enclosures that were too small for the calves to comfortably stand up and turn around.

The case was dismissed because at the time, there was no statute defining dimensions of farm animal enclosures, Kistler says.

“If Prop 2 passes, it will encourage proponents to come back with new ballot measures directed at the dairy industry,” says Mike LaSalle, lawyer from Hanford, Calif. “The dairy industry cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this proposition.”

            Prop 2 would not apply to veal calves, egg-laying hens or pregnant pigs until Jan. 1, 2015.

             “This proposition is not about chickens in cages or how we raise animals. The real agenda is that the Humane Society wants to eliminate the consumption of animal tissues, period,” says Bob Cherenson, veterinarian with Lander Vet Clinic in Turlock, Calif. “This is an animal rights initiative, not an animal welfare initiative.”

            Cherenson and Kistler believe this is only the beginning. They encourage dairy producers across the United States to be proactive in educating consumers, as similar — or even more onerous — legislation could be introduced in other states.

            A recent Center for Food Integrity survey says that 47 percent of consumers would support a law in their state to ensure the humane treatment of farm animals.

             

For more information on Proposition 2, follow this link: http://www.safecaliforniafood.org/

 

Talking points are available from Dairy Management Inc. that can be used to communicate with consumers regarding animal welfare. To download a PDF, follow this link:

http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org/NR/rdonlyres/27F5890B-1A1D-4A61-8A5B-FA6AEB0C1769/0/DFTAnimalCarePDF.pdf