On November 4, as Americans made history in their choice of a new President, California also made animal welfare history. Over 62 per cent of voters in California approved Proposition 2 - bringing an end to battery cages, veal crates and sow stalls across the state.
In a hard fought campaign by US animal welfare groups, the passing of Proposition 2 will free around 20 million hens, calves and pregnant pigs from confinement. Confinement systems which prevent animals from turning around freely, lying down, standing up and fully extending their limbs will be banned.
Farming operations have until 2015 to implement the new space requirements for their animals.
The campaign for Prop 2 has been as hard fought as the presidential campaign. The Humane Society of the US and other groups have gathered support from millions of Californians to run TV ads in between programmes such as Desperate Housewives and CSI whilst thousands of supporters hit the streets distributing leaflets and advice on how to vote for Prop 2.
Opponents of Prop 2, such as agribusiness companies from throughout the US, spent $9 million to try to defeat the ballot initiative.
Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said, "California voters have taken a stand for decency and compassion and said that the systemic mistreatment of animals on factory farms cannot continue. All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food."
This historic vote once again demonstrates that compassion for animals is a global concern. It also shows how the United States, home of factory farming, is changing. This vote follows the bans on gestation crates in Florida in 2002 and Oregon in 2007, the bans on gestation crates and veal crates in Arizona in 2006 and in Colorado in 2008. California is the first state to include battery cages in its ban.
In the European Union, veal crates have only been banned since 2007 and battery cages will be banned from 2012 and sow stalls from 2013.
The California victory is a tribute to the hard work of the animal welfare groups in the US, who faced huge opposition from vested interests but who never faltered in their battle for justice for farm animals.
To find out more about why we need to put an end to factory farming, visit our Stop Factory Farming campaign pages.
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