Farm Animals Gain Ground: Humane Treatment is Expanding
California recently joined Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Oregon in outlawing the confinement of veal calves and/or pregnant pigs in crates so small they can’t turn around. California’s law also encompasses millions of egg-laying hens, typically crowded into small wire cages stacked to the rafters in the name of efficiency and profit.
The Humane Society of the United States is leading the charge to halt such animal abuses and expects national reverberations. The message is clear. Consumers care about the source of their food and how it is raised and are willing to set limits, even if industry isn’t. Advocates point to data showing that when hens have more space, rates of salmonella and other contaminants that can hurt humans are lower. Support from food safety groups includes the Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest and Consumer Federation of America. Proponents of the improved standard estimate it will raise the price of an egg by a penny.
Close confinement has been a standard feature of U.S. animal production for 50 years. Now, consumers are sending a signal to producers that, “They had better change their ways, or they will be put out of business,” says Princeton Professor Peter Singer.