This is probably the most important election in our lifetime. With ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a global economic meltdown, an energy crisis and accelerated climate change, this nation is facing historic challenges. The need for each of us to exercise our civic responsibility by voting is profound.
As we approach Election Day, there is one initiative on the state ballot that many voters may not have heard much about: Proposition 2. Its goal is to give farm animals in California enough room in their cages to turn around, lie down and stretch their limbs. This is a moderate, reasonable step toward making farming in California more humane.
Most Californians are unaware of the cruelty associated with modern industrial farming’s intensive confinement practices. Calves raised for veal, female pigs used for breeding and egg-laying hens are crammed into crates or cages so small that they cannot turn around, stretch their limbs or lie down comfortably for their entire lives. It is comparable to being confined to a space the size of a coffin for the duration of your life.
It is simply unacceptable for factory farms to impose this kind of suffering just so they can squeeze every last penny out of animal production. Thus, runaway corporate greed threatens to undermine our core values. It is a matter of decency and compassion to have farm animals live with as little pain and suffering as possible. Recognition of this simple claim is sweeping the nation.
Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Oregon have already passed laws similar to Proposition 2. City councils and elected officials throughout California have endorsed this proposition. Grocery chains, restaurants and food companies, as well as hundreds of universities, have switched to using cage-free eggs. Last spring, UC Irvine proudly became the second UC campus to make this switch. Even the European Union is already phasing out veal crates, gestation crates and barren battery cages, and California can join the trend.
Because the confinement practices of modern industrial farming threaten human health by fostering diseases and damaging the environment through the contamination of water, soil and air, Proposition 2 is endorsed by the Center for Food Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action. Since big agribusiness has an advantage over family farms who engage in more humane animal practices, the United Farm Workers and Family Farm Defenders support Proposition 2 as well. The California Veterinary Medical Association also endorses it. A simple ballot initiative can make an enormous difference in the lives of 20 million farm animals in California. For the sake of animals, human health and the environment, vote “yes” on Proposition 2.
Claire Kim is an associate professor of political science and Asian American studies. She can be reached at email@example.com.