The California ballot initiative on farm animal housing has passed by a fairly large margin with 63% for to 37% against as of 5:30 a.m. Central with 87% of the vote in.
The initiative, listed as Proposition 2, or "Prop 2," closes down the California egg industry -- affecting 95% of the state's egg production and forcing California consumers to buy eggs from other states and from Mexico. Prop 2 will become effective in 2015.
Passage represents a huge victory for Prop 2's supporters, the main two of which are the animal rights groups Farm Sanctuary and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the latter of which supports vegetarianism. It is largely expected that Farm Sanctuary and HSUS will employ momentum from their victory to carry the measure to other states that have ballot initiatives and directly to state assemblies in those states that do not.
HSUS chief executive officer and president Wayne Pacelle, in a statement issued late last night, declared that California voters "have taken a stand for compassion and decency and said systematic mistreatment of animals on factory farms cannot continue. All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food."
Californians for Safe Food, which opposed Prop 2, issued its own statement last night, saying the coalition led by Farm Sanctuary and HSUS "led an emotionally manipulative, dishonest and often deceptive campaign." Safe Food commended its supporters and listed a number of accomplishments, including the fact that more than 30 of California's major newspapers came out in opposition to Prop 2.
Prop 2 requires that all farm animals, "for all or the majority of any day," not be confined or tethered in a manner that prevents an animal from lying down, standing up, turning around or extending its limbs without touching another animal or an enclosure such as a cage or stall. It specifically addresses modern cage housing for hens and stalls for sows and veal calves. It carries criminal penalties for violations, including fines and jail terms.
The pork and veal industries already have been researching group housing systems to phase out stalls as the science and technology to do so becomes available, and modern cage housing for hens already provides the highest standards of animal welfare as prescribed by animal ethicists and scientists.
Hens in cage housing systems can express almost all natural behavior but cannot extend their wings without touching another hen or their enclosures. Two important studies have concluded that Prop 2 will force all cage and most cage-free egg producers in California to shut down and will cost California thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.