Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, October 17, 2008

Factory Farms in California

Most of us are sickened by the treatment of animals at factory farms. And now California — finally — has an initiative on the ballot which will eliminate some of the worst practices.

If you'd like to know more about factory farming, this website has a lot of information, including some gory pictures and videos. Be sure you haven’t eaten recently if you go to this site.

Basically, this initiative requires that all farm animals have enough room in their cages to be able to lie down, stand up and turn around. This will apply to all livestock, but the main opposition is coming from the poultry industry.

A few huge factory farms — mostly from outside of California — have contributed millions of dollars to defeat Proposition 2. As of September 30th (the most recent poll I could find), Proposition 2 was leading: 72% in favor, 10% against and 18% undecided. But we’ll see…

There are still a lot of scary commercials yet to come, and a lot of mainstream and supposedly liberal newspapers (including the San Francisco Chronicle) have come out against it. So far the funniest (but not ha ha) scare story is that if chickens are allowed out of their cages, there'll be an epidemic of Avian Flu. And of course, food prices will go through the roof, thousands of farmers will go out of business, the economy will collapse and the terrorists will win.

Even funnier (in that Orwellian sort of way) is a poultry farmer from Petaluma, CA — Steve Mahrt. According to one of the comments in this article, he thinks chickens are happier when they're crammed all snug and cozy inside their comfy little cages.

Whatever toxic waste products his farm is producing, he's been smoking some of it.

Here are some more links.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Someday, humans will become enlightened, but not as long as there are to dollars to be made in the dark.

October 17, 2008 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: It'll probably be awhile before that enlightenment happens.

October 17, 2008 at 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve Mahrt. According to one of the comments in this article, he thinks chickens are happier when they're crammed all snug and cozy inside their comfy little cages.

Additional investigation reveals that Steve Mahrt isn't actually a poultry farmer, doesn't know where Petaluma really is (he thinks he may have read the name in a Peanuts strip), but thinks that Kentucky Fried Chicken is pretty good stuff. ;-)

October 17, 2008 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kvatch: Maybe he's a Wall Street broker who owns some farmland for the tax deduction. He's also willing to pay extra for free range McNuggets.

October 17, 2008 at 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another very good reason to be vegan!

October 18, 2008 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kate: Very true. If everyone went vegan, those factory farms would disappear.

October 18, 2008 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Can we put Steve Mahrt in a cage? Why are you whining Steve, you should be happier than if you lived in a house!

Oh shit, I think I just got the avian flu. Well played, farmers, well played.

October 18, 2008 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: I think I've got some Avian Flu symptoms too. And the economy is collapsing all around us. Everyone is blaming Wall Street, but it's really caused by those F#$% animal rights treehuggers.

October 18, 2008 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It is terrible isn't it? And as for disease epidemics, wouldn't the cramped quarters contribute more to outbreaks. I believe this is what happens when people are crammed into on dense space under poor conditions. Just a thought.

October 18, 2008 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ricardo: Yup, I would think the cramped cages would contribute more to spreading diseases. I think in some of those poultry factories, cages are piled on top of each other, so the chickens are all getting shat on from the cage above them. Doesn't sound too healthy to me.

October 18, 2008 at 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good this measure is on the California ballot now and appears likely to pass.

As the gutting of U.S. industry continues and foreigners have more to spend, I'm sure they'll be buying more of our food and agricultural exports. What that will create is a greater compulsion to produce more and do it more cheaply — meaning even less humane conditions and treatment for animals. Less sanitary conditions, too.

Yeah, the sky will fall and Banquet frozen chicken "dinners" (snacks, really) will have to sell at nine for $10 instead of $1 apiece. I don't know how we'll ever manage, but suspect we'll find a way.

October 18, 2008 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Amazing. Now I know how it feels to be an in-the-dark Republican automaton who doesn't think there's anything horrific going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We know this is happening to animals, yet we don't see it – so we don’t think about it. I'm glad there are some among us who have the time and the motivation to fix things like this and bring it to our attention.

I try to buy “friendly” products whenever possible. Living in a relatively rural area outside of San Antonio, there’s an independent grocer who carries local eggs and meat. I’m going to look into their operations…..I’d like to think they’re small enough to do things right, but you never know.

I hope this initiative passes in California, but I can’t help but be pessimistic and think some industry lobbyist will blow his/her way to getting it overturned, even if it is passed.

October 19, 2008 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

I voted for it. Apparently it will raise the cost of eggs by 1 cent per egg. Oh man, that is going to destroy the CA economy.

I thought it only applied to chickens, pregnant pigs and veal calves though. Did I miss something?

October 19, 2008 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: That's true, there'll be more and more incentives for factory farmers to cut corners and squeeze out every dollar they can.

And of course the sky will fall if frozen chicken dinners go up a little bit in price; which they probably will anyway.

Carlos: I can almost feel sorry for those in-the-dark Republicans. Almost. Everything is just great in Iraq and with the economy, and only a bunch of whiny treehuggers care about farm animals. The gravest threat to America is abortion and the Homosexual Agenda.

It's definitely worth the extra cost to buy meat and eggs from a small local producer.

PragueTwin: An additional one cent per egg? Oh, forget it then, I'm against it.

I'm not sure of the details of Proposition 2. Most of the opposition is from the poultry industry; I don't know why. I think I read that cattle and pig farms have already made some voluntary reforms, so they're less affected by this initiative. I don't know if that's true or not; it's hard to picture those factory farmers doing anything voluntarily.

October 19, 2008 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

I suppose the chickens can stay nice and warm when they are close together, eh. Yuck...

I think this video pretty much says it all. I don't know if this will work or not, I think you need QuickTime plug-in:


October 19, 2008 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: I couldn't get the link to work. But I've seen a few of those gory videos. And I remember a SNL skit about talking chickens telling everybody how good they'll taste, in case that's the link.

Yes, I think farm animals are much happier when they can be crammed together with hundreds of their closest friends.

October 19, 2008 at 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Harper wrote: ". . .it's hard to picture those factory farmers doing anything voluntarily."

I'm going to be a bit of a contrarian for a moment. It's possible some factory farmers might not have a problem with improving conditions for the animals, but won't do it because others who don't would gain a competitive advantage.

What I'm saying is, some farmers might be relieved if the measure passes because they can then improve conditions knowing all the other farmers will have to do likewise.

October 19, 2008 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: OK, you contrarian you :)

I agree, I think a lot of industries are captained by people who have good intentions, but don't want to be put at a disadvantage by sleazy competitors who cut corners.

October 19, 2008 at 11:45 PM  
Blogger Miss Kitty said...

When I read on the Humane Society's website about this proposed law, I shouted for joy. My Myrtle Mae loves to roam outside...when she was still laying eggs, they tasted SO good b/c of her free-range diet. (She's three or four eyars old now and is eggless now.)

October 20, 2008 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Miss Kitty: Having Myrtle Mae, it must really make you cringe to read about chickens being crammed together so tightly they can barely move. I'm glad this initiative is on the ballot. Hopefully it'll spread to other states after California.

October 20, 2008 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

For too long factory farms have put at risk the publics health with the way they treat and mass produce poultry.

If California is the first to stop the cruelty to animals proposition, then we might see it spread to other States.

October 20, 2008 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Let's Talk: You're right, this really is a public health issue as well as humane treatment of animals. I too hope this initiative passes and it starts a nationwide trend.

October 20, 2008 at 4:59 PM  

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