New laws limiting farmers, public sho...

New laws limiting farmers, public should not support

Posted in the Mahwah Forum

Since: Mar 10

Bronx, NY

#1 Mar 9, 2010
New laws limiting farmers, public should not support
By Jessica Hensley

| Published: Monday, March 8, 2010

Updated: Monday, March 8, 2010

Illustration by Whitney Bandel

There are more than 300 million people living in the United States, all of whom must be fed. We are lucky to have one of the cheapest and most stable food supplies of anywhere in the world.

That fact might be changing, though, thanks to legislation like Proposition 2 in California.

In November 2008, 63 percent of Californians voted to pass Proposition 2, a measure that requires farmers in California to phase out practices like sow gestation crates, veal crates and hen battery cages by Jan. 1, 2015.

Now, just over a year later, California’s farmers are still trying to sort out what this means for their futures and the future of the industry.

Proposition 2 is estimated to cost farmers in California more than $1 billion, which will likely double the cost of production. This sharp rise in cost will do one of two things: drive up food prices or put California farmers out of business completely. This is the reality California voters failed to take into account.

The fact is, most farming practices are necessary to ensure not only the safety of the animals in question, but also a steady supply of affordable meat to the population of the United States. It would simply be impossible to raise the number of animals required to feed everyone in a free-range setting. There just isn’t enough land. Or enough money.

The economic consequences of Proposition 2 are, as of yet, largely unrealized. But eventually, prices will go up, production will go down and, as legislation like Proposition 2 begins to pass in other states around the country, voters will begin to realize the consequences of their actions.

The fact is, the passage of Proposition 2 was an emotional response by a public largely uneducated in the ways of animal agriculture. The Humane Society of the United States spent millions assuring the public Proposition 2 was necessary to prevent cruelty to farm animals but neglected to mention the real aim of the legislation was to drive California’s farmers out of business.

It is unfortunate, as a nation, we have become so disconnected from our food source. The majority of people in the U.S. have no knowledge at all about farming and animal agriculture, so how can they be expected to vote intelligently on the issue and not be taken in by the emotional assault of The Humane Society of the United States?

There needs to be regulation in animal agriculture, true. And yes, some policy changes might be necessary sometimes. But the American public simply isn’t educated enough about the issues surrounding animal agriculture to intelligently provide regulation or implement the correct policy changes. This should be left to those within and around the industry who know what they are doing and who don’t take the word of animal rights groups as gospel.

- Jessica Hensley is a senior in political science. Please send comments to [email protected]

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