Friday, May 02, 2008

LA City Council votes to support the California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act

Today the City Council heard a motion made by Council Members Rosendahl and Alarcon to support the California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which would prohibit the restrictive confinement of farm animals.

Council Member Rosendahl asked me to comment on the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. I prefaced my comments with this Cesar Chavez quote:

"'We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people understand that animals are fellow creatures. We must protect them and love them as we love ourselves. We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them - exploiting animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting animals in the name of food.'

"Surely, if Cesar Chavez were here today, he would urge the City Council to support this initiative.

I want to thank council members Rosendahl and Alarcon for introducing this important motion to the City Council. I want to urge the Council to join the City of San Francisco and other California communities in supporting this modest ballot measure.

The hundreds of LA residents who volunteered their time to collect thousands of signatures, as well as the over 800,000 individuals who signed the Californians for Humane Farms petition agree with Council members Rosendahl and Alarcon that this initiative reinforces LA’s long standing commitment to protecting the health and welfare of all animals by preventing the inhumane treatment of animals.

This initiative is sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary and many other California and national animal welfare groups, CA family farmers, CA veterinarians, and public health and food safety professionals, and the LA Animal Services Commission recently voted to support a very similar motion.

The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act asks for only the most basic needs for farm animals: merely the ability to turn around and extend their limbs. It is hard to imagine a more moderate initiative.

The measure will prevent three methods of the most cruel and inhumane forms of extreme confinement in the world of animal agribusiness: veal crates, battery cages, and gestation crates. All three of these practices have already been outlawed in the European Union.

The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act will reduce the suffering of nearly 20 million animals confined in California factory farms each year. Florida, Arizona, and Oregon have already banned gestation crates, and Arizona has banned veal crates. Some major California food retailers are already voluntarily moving away from the cruel use of battery cages and veal and gestation crates.

As a City we would never permit animals in our shelters to endure confinement so restrictive that they couldn't extend their limbs for months on end, and as Californians we shouldn't support such cruelty to farm animals. All animals, including those raised for food, deserve humane treatment.

During these difficult fiscal times, it is important to know that California’s Legislative Analyst has determined that the fiscal impact of this initiative is limited to minor costs that will be offset by revenue from fines. This ballot measure also gives farmers until the year 2015 to phase in more humane production practices. Again, I ask the council for a yes vote."

Thanks to the hard work of many, and those who spoke in support of this motion today, the City Council unanimously voted to support this motion.

Earlier, the Council poetically voted to support an effort to create a national Cesar Chavez holiday.