In California, a potential ballot initiative is going around to give animals a little better living conditions on factory farms. More room to move around for chickens, pigs and veal calves who currently don’t have much. (Laying hens often share a small cage with 3 others giving them the room of 2/3 the size of a letter size piece of paper to move. Breeding sows are caged so tightly they can’t lay down or turn around and veal calves are tightly confined to not give them movement either.)

Farm organizations also are preparing to fight the measure, which they fear will win over a sympathetic, largely urban electorate. A competing initiative would leave egg producers’ current practices in place.

Farmers say the animals already are treated well, and less efficient methods would drive up the cost of eggs and other foods by anywhere from a quarter to three times the current cost.

A couple of things,
Farm organizations exist to sell their wares to the urban electorate. The urban electorate, should they decide they need a say in things, really should get to have a say in things.

You can argue that they can already by buying things like cage free eggs etc. But this is about more than capitalistic decision making. It’s about the rights of living beings.
As people raise their own standards, the standards given to animals for eating also are bound to get raised. As that happens, the laws need to be re-visited in order to keep somewhat of a level playing field.

Yes, you could have a consortium of nice farmers who choose to raise cage free chickens. And there are. And those eggs do get sold and more brands of such eggs are available every year in this niche market. And then……..the whip gets cracked and minimum standards get raised.

I think it’s fine. This isn’t about how you treat the widget you’re creating. It’s how you treat the living/breathing/thinking thing you are using and have enslaved for your use. And I love eggs by the way!

(Yes JK, I read “Dominion” by Matthew Skully. Thanks for the recommendation. I basically knew the shadows without the specifics of this stuff. I’ve always like eating the homegrown stuff, but may need to knock that off too!)

The 2nd thing is in regards to price. We live in a country that sells prepackaged lettuce. It sells precut potatoes, premade dressings, prerotissaried chickens and lives on fast food. I think we can handle a higher price on eggs than currently exists if that means that the egg bearers standard of living can be improved to a level that satisfies the urban egg eaters!

And yes, I’ve been poor and lived on potatoes/beans/onions for periods of time so you can’t say I care more about chickens than poor people. I don’t. But I don’t think those are the only 2 choices on this plate. (pun intended) Poor people vs animals.

Like illegal migrant labor – until everyone follows the standards, then the standards won’t be true. You can’t pay legal migrants their minimum wages and social security taxes and compete with the guy next door who uses illegals.

Levels of care of living beings being raised in this rich country is a good thing. Yes, it’s government interference, but if factory farms are unwilling to voluntarily police themselves, then the urban eaters must give it a go.

2 thoughts on “Animals

  1. Superb and thoughtful post. However, you struck pre-emptively against the wrong comment, Terri. (Glad you enjoyed “Dominion.”)

    You say it, but don’t have the courage of your convictions: the solution is for the urban consumers to demand better conditions. You make the point that it is too important to be left to the market. I counter that it is too important to be left to government. Should Trent Lott and Tom Harkin get in a room and cook a deal that includes a compromise for the highway bill and some earmarks?

    It is a real problem, and I appreciate your zeal. I just ask what I ask everyone who wants government involvement in something: “What is it that government does so well that you think it will succeed here?”

  2. I appreciate your anti govt stance but I would counter that I do think the govt handles certain standards better than the free market.

    For a few examples, see
    Clean Air
    Clean Water
    National Parks
    Even minimal standards in schools, when followed. (I have family that is “home schooled” in a very bad way in a county that doesn’t have such standards.)

    Things that are bigger than individual people. I don’t know all the laws out there, but I assume there is minimal housing standards that people can use when renting.
    Minimal standards of care at hospitals that are staffed by people with minimal standards of education.

    Things like that.

    Urban consumers, ARE demanding better conditions, better standards. They are saying that the care of these animals deserve another notch up in the levels of minimals even if prices must be adjusted to match.

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