Nice Try, Big Ag: This Time, the Animals Win

Great news for fluffernutters like the adorable ducklings above from California courts: two important animal welfare laws intended to mandate humane conditions for food animals will remain in place, despite the best attempts of the industry. In two different cases, big agriculture attempted to strike down ballot measures giving more rights to animals raised for food products, and in both, the court told the plaintiffs to take their balls and go home.

There’s a big debate on whether we should be raising animals for food at all, and a lot of strong arguments represent the vegetarian camp. But we can agree that if we are going to be eating animals, they should be raised in humane, ethical conditions where they have access to the best possible treatment. Because all animals deserve respect, and fighting for better conditions for food animals is an important step in improving conditions in the agriculture industry.

That’s why California voters passed Proposition 2 in 2008. The law forbids the confinement of veal calves, hens and breeding pigs, mandating that farmers keep them in pens with enough room to freely move around. And it allowed plenty of time for agricultural companies to adapt to the changes: it doesn’t fully implement until 2015, providing ample opportunity for renovations and other changes to facilities. 63% of California voters said “yes” to animal welfare.

Big agriculture said otherwise, taking the law to court three times in an attempt to get it struck down. Litigators for the Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare groups went to bat for animals and won. They sincerely hope this is the last time they’ll have to battle over Prop. 2 in court; despite claims that the law is “too vague,” judges have insisted on multiple occasions that it’s easy to interpret, and it’s time for factory farms to throw in the towel. Animals have the right to turn around freely in their enclosures. End of story.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeals was also taking on a challenge to the law banning force-feeding of ducks for the production of foie gras. This French delicacy actually can be produced humanely, but is classically made by ramming high-fat foods down the throats of ducks and geese to fatten their livers for a faster-developing product. Californians were not amused by the practice and banned it in 2004, allowing a term of seven years for farmers to phase it in.

Some protested, taking the matter to court and trying to get the ban struck down. They were unsuccessful: the judge in the case ruled that since California has a legal mandate and the authority to oversee animal welfare and the humane treatment of animals, it could pass a law banning inhumane farming practices. The court success means inhumane production methods will stay out of California farms, as well as stores and restaurants.

Animals: 2. Abusers: 0.

Photo credit: Melanie Hughes.


One Heart i
One Heart inc2 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Mark Donner
Mark Donner4 years ago

Cathleen: "more than 60% of vegans report they have eaten meat in the last 24 hours". That is plain bogus facts. I haven't been full vegan as far as shrimp and some fish, but I never claimed not to be eating that and since then have nearly phased that out too. I haven't eaten chicken, beef, pork, turkey etc. for the last five years, it's very easy not to, since that poisoned slaughtered garbage would make me sick i I do. If you insist on animal protein you can eat pasture raised chicken eggs and the same with dairy products. Along with protein rich vegetables that's plenty sufficient for protein requirements for any insignificant human.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Kristen Lowry
Kristen Lowry4 years ago

Personally, I'm a vegetarian, but at least in some way, it makes me feel better that the lives of farm animals will somehow be improved. My biggest wish is that all humans eat plant based diets & then we could shut these animal abusers down forever.

BellaMia F.
Renee F4 years ago

I've got a BETTER idea. How about we stop eating these innocent creatures? They have a right to live without being tortured and murdered.
It sickens me when people take the attitude that animals were only put on this earth for us to eat.

Wake up! No matter how humanely an animal is treated, if the end result is being hung upside down and having their throat slashed, it's still CRUEL!

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K4 years ago

Nope, there is no debate of any size over whether humans should raise animals for food outside of the miniscule percentage of the population that really is vegan - more than 60% of "vegans" self report to having eaten some meat within the last 24 hours, bacon being at the top of the list. The debate is over this kind of factory farming, which is horrifically cruel to animals, environmentally disastrous, but has enabled poor people to eat calorie and protein rich meat regularly. Those of us old enough to remember the Kennedy Administration remember an America where hunger, and the diseases that go with it, were a very real danger for a whole lot of people, and where a steak was a couple of times a year luxury for men with good union jobs.

I will welcome these changes. I already pay more for cage free eggs and locally, humanely raised meat, and have no doubt that we'd all be better off if prices forced us to eat the way our parents or grandparents did, with meat making up a smaller part of what's on our dinner plates, and being regularly absent for ethical reasons, as it once was for religious ones. But I'm also mindful that the time, and the skill set, needed to make that kind of eating satisfying is just not part of modern family life. The housewives of my childhood served multiple homemade sides along with the small piece of meat. How many women do you know who could do that today after they get home from work? Like most things, it's complicated.

Manel Dias
Manel Dias4 years ago

Animals need to live like animals. They are on this planet earth for their own reasons. Not for the humans to abuse and kill them and fill their fat bellies. I hope who ever eats those innocent animals flesh ultimately will suffer like the same way they made animals suffer for no reason.

janet stothers
janet stothers4 years ago

still takes to long to be put into effect but its moving forward

Dana C.
D C4 years ago