Perspective: Prop. 2 an opportunity to end factory farming abuses

Like most conscientious students, I support local farms, protecting animals from cruelty, and ensuring that the food I buy is safe. That’s why I’m voting YES on Proposition 2.

Proposition 2 requires that animals be given enough room to stand up, turn around, and extend their limbs. No one considers it acceptable to force a dog or cat to live in a filthy, cramped cage for their entire life; yet, these are the miserable conditions that animals on factory farms are forced to endure. All animals, even ones used for food, deserve humane treatment.

Earlier this year, a shocking investigation revealed to Californians the routine slaughter of sick and crippled cows (so-called “downer” cows), whose meat was then sent to schools across the country. Not only did this investigation shed light on the shocking cruelty in factory farms, it also exposed these operations’ threat to our public health. When factory farms cram tens of thousands of animals into tiny cages, they foster the spread of diseases that may affect people. Clearly, Proposition 2 benefits both animals and consumers.

The initiative also protects California’s environment. The American Public Health Association has called for a moratorium on new factory farms, because of the devastating effects of these operations on surrounding communities. The spread of untreated waste in the ground and contamination of waterways, lakes, groundwater, soil, and air threatens our quality of life. Thanks to Proposition 2, we can help to prevent some of the worst environmental abuses that threaten our precious natural resources.

California family farmers also support Prop. 2, since better farming practices enhance food quality and safety. They’re not only supplying forward-thinking and socially responsible businesses like Whole Foods and Henry’s, but they’re increasingly supplying major retailers like Safeway, Burger King, and Trader Joe’s. Factory farms cut corners and drive family farmers out of business, when they put profits ahead of animal welfare and our health.

This is an historic opportunity for Californians to end some of the worst factory farming abuses. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Oregon, and the European Union have already passed similar laws. Since Americans have become more aware of factory farming abuses and begun to demand reforms, however, the largest agricultural industries are mobilizing to preserve the status quo. The opposition, funded mostly by out-of-state companies, is spending more than ten million dollars to try to defeat Proposition 2.

They have also resorted to blatant lies; for example, they claim that the cost of eggs will skyrocket. In fact, according to a UC Davis economic report, the cost of raising hens more humanely is less than a penny per egg. They also claim that current practices safeguard consumers’ health; in fact, peer-reviewed studies show up to 20 times more salmonella present in battery-caged chickens.

Prop. 2 enjoys immense support from organizations, like the Cesar Chavez Foundation, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, California Veterinary Medical Association, Center for Food Safety, and Sierra Club. This Nov. 4, join me in the prevention of animal cruelty. Vote YES on Proposition 2!

(Mike Shabatay is a student government senator)

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Perspective: Prop. 2 an opportunity to end factory farming abuses