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November 12, 2006 - Livestock Producers, Beware!

While the attention of media and voters on election day focused on Congressional races and who would control the House and the Senate, there was another ballot issue that attracted my attention and the attention of livestock producers across the nation .

It was on the ballot in the state of Arizona, Proposition 204 that would prohibit the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs and the use of veal crates. It would require that pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal be kept in enclosures large enough that they can turn around and fully extend their limbs. It would go into effect December 31st of 2012.

The backers of that proposal won handily....62% of people in Arizona voted for that prohibition on gestation crates and the use of veal crates; 38% voted against. The president of the National Pork Producers Council said “We are disappointed that the voters of Arizona adopted a proposition outlawing a husbandry practice deemed appropriate by decades of farmer experience as well as by University Researchers, and the nation’s leading Veterinarian Association.”

The ballot initiative.....surprise, surprise...was backed mainly by the Humane Society of the U.S. and Farm Sanctuary. The groups helped pass a similar ballot initiative in Florida in 2002. You may recall, shortly after that vote, an official of the Farm Sanctuary said “The Florida victory will lead to similar reforms across the Nation.”

Now, they don’t raise many hogs in Arizona and they don’t raise many hogs in Florida so it will not affect many farmers in those states. But the ballot success in those two states will encourage the organizations to use those victories to enlist other people in larger livestock-producing states in their ongoing attempt to shut down animal agriculture in the United States.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to see a continued effort from these people who don’t understand agriculture and who don’t understand (or don’t want to understand) the daily humane treatment that farmers and ranchers provide for their animals. Farmers know that poorly treated animals under stress do not produce to their maximum. It is important to livestock producers, from a moral standpoint and certainly from a financial standpoint that their animals do well. Years of experience teaches them that under the practices of today they, indeed, do well.

But, to those of you in the livestock industry, it is another warning to be on guard against those who simply want to put you out of business and will use the ballot box to do it. It’s also another reminder to crop producers who have already seen ballot attempts in California to stop the use of biotechnology and sound production practices; be ready to respond to these emotional charges with sound science.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.