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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Prop 204 deserves a yes vote

    During the upcoming election season, Arizona’s voters will decide on a number of ballot propositions ranging in topic from gay marriage to a minimum-wage increase. While these issues have been all over the national news in recent months, an oft-overlooked matter has been the inhumane treatment of our state’s farm animals. Ballot Proposition 204, the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act, addresses this issue and deserves the full support of Arizona voters.

    So, just what is Prop. 204?

    First, some facts. Nearly 16,000 pigs in Arizona are confined in crates so small that they cannot so much as turn around. Frequently as little as 2 feet wide, these crates have drastic physical and psychological effects on the animals kept captive in them.ÿAccording to the Canadian Journal of Animal Science, pigs reared in such extreme confinement often exhibit symptoms of joint disorders and muscle atrophy. Calves raised for veal are kept in similar confines, and are frequently made so weak by their confinement that they cannot walk – meaning that 16-week-old calves must often be dragged to their own slaughter.

    If enacted, Prop. 204 would simply require that animals raised for slaughter be kept in crates that allow for them to lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs. Is that really too much to ask for?

    Cheryl Naumann, the proposition’s sponsor, doesn’t think so. “”There is nothing radical about requiring that an animal be given enough room to simply turn around,”” said Naumann, president of the Arizona Humane Society.

    Yet there are those who oppose the bill. They tote a cache full of arguments that are, for the most part, baseless.

    Obviously, pork and veal producers oppose the measure. One reason livestock producers oppose the idea is because of the perceived high cost of implementing it. Many smaller farms understandably fear that being forced to quickly comply with proposition guidelines would be exorbitantly expensive. Robert Glock, a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences researcher, opined that the industry would be less averse to changes “”if those changes could be instituted over a period of time that would allow transition without financial disaster.”” This argument is reasonable yet slightly misinformed. Prop. 204, if approved in November, would not reach implementation until 2013 – leaving plenty of time for pork and beef farmers to adjust to the new policy.

    Prop. 204 opponents also usually cite Florida’s experimentation with a similar law as reason not to enact the measure. In 2002, Florida voters approved a comparable act that many say has lead to a downturn in that state’s pork industry. However, though the measure was approved, it has not been implemented yet, meaning that that the downturn in that state’s pork industry must be due to other factors.

    Of course, Prop. 204 carries certain exceptions. For instance, the law would not apply to animals in transit, animals in temporary holding pens or animals under immediate veterinary care. The law would most certainly not affect our ability to buy pork or veal products. A common conspiracy theory is that Prop. 204 supporters are secretly working to end the slaughter and consumption of animals for food, while in actuality they only aim to show some decency toward these animals before they’re killed. Is that so sinister?

    Most slaughtered animals are given the most humane death possible, “”yet there is no current law in Arizona that governs the vast majority of an animal’s life,”” said Naumann. “”Proposition 204 represents a very fair, reasonable request for balance between the welfare of animals and producers’ economic interests.””

    Indeed it does. Opponents bring up all kinds of arguments as reasons to vote against the proposition, but the issue inevitably boils down to a single question: Do you, the voter, believe that a pig or calf should have enough room to simply turn around in the stall in which it will spend the majority of its pitiable life?

    As for myself, I like bacon just as much as the next guy – but why not show our food some respect while it’s still alive?

    This November, vote in favor of Proposition 204, the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act. Your conscience will thank you.

    David Francis is a pre-business sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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