Saturday, April 12, 2008

Animal Rights Headed for the Ballot

I've got mixed feelings on this one. It may reduce animal suffering but does nothing to prevent animal slaughter. In the interim, it placates any compassionate urges meat-eaters may have about eating animals. I suppose it's a step in the right direction but it's certainly not going to please abolitionists. Anyway, on with the show.

Animal Rights Headed for the Ballot
Locals push state initiative on farm animal living conditions
By NATALIE HOFFMAN
Register Staff Writer

Months of hard work culminated in a preliminary victory for animal rights groups in Napa and across the state Wednesday when California Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act for the November general election.

If passed, the legislation would ban three types of small structures used to house commercial farm animals, requiring larger cages for the millions of calves, pigs and egg-laying hens that live on commercial California farms.

Cris Kelly — who co-founded Napa’s Animal Action Network with her husband, Michael Christophel — said members of her organization and other local volunteers began campaigning locally for the measure and collecting signatures for the initiative in October of 2007.

Across California, Kelly said, volunteers gathered more than 536,000 signatures for the initiative from registered voters. Only 477,000 were needed to qualify the measure for the ballot, she said.

“I’m thrilled that it passed quite above the number of signatures needed,” she said. “I’m very happy and now the hard work starts.”

Kelly said the next step is to get the initiative endorsed by local veterinarians, business people and state and federal lawmakers.

In one state that passed a similar measure, supporters found themselves up against opposition from agribusiness officials, Kelly said. Yet she and other Napa volunteers didn’t run into the same trouble in Napa County.

“Locally when we were out trying to get support for this ballot, not many opposed it,” she said. “A lot of the local farmers signed it.”

Jane Albert, executive director of Napa Humane, said although her organization typically focuses on the well-being of “companion animals,” her organization endorses the measure.“

We support the hundreds of thousands of California voters who successfully campaign to place the (initiative) on the November ballot. ... (The measure) will phase out certain cruel confinement practices to make way for more humane standards in factory farming.” said Albert.

Similar laws have been passed in Arizona, Florida and Oregon, Kelly said.

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