Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
laws to prohibit inhumane slaughter and regulate how live-
stock are transported, and one federal law requires the sec-
retary of agriculture to study a variety of livestock issues,
including animal welfare. There are no federal laws about how
livestock should be treated while they are on the farm.
Some readers may have first come across some of the hog
welfare controversies when they watched HBO's documentary
Death on a Factory Farm , where an undercover animal rights
activist covertly filmed a hog farm where he worked. Some of
the scenes depicted a typical hog farm, with sows in gestation
crates and pigs on concrete slabs, and these are conditions
that some animal scientists and veterinarians find acceptable.
Most of the film concerned acts that the vast majority of farm-
ers do not condone, like providing inadequate feed, allowing
cannibalism, and “euthanizing” sows by hanging (hanging
was still legal in Ohio, though). The farm operators were
charged on eight counts of violating Ohio's anticruelty laws.
Such counts are difficult to prosecute, because the laws often
exclude livestock from certain requirements. For instance,
Ohio laws state that no person should “keep animals other
than cattle, poultry, or fowl, swine, sheep, or goats in an enclo-
sure without wholesome exercise and change of air.” If the
farmers had kept dogs under the conditions described above,
they would have been found guilty, but because the animals
were pigs, they were not.
Until recently US farmers were allowed to house their live-
stock however they pleased, but in the last decade a number of
changes in state law have forced egg producers in three states
to seek alternatives to the battery cage and hog farmers in eight
states to care for sows without gestation stalls. Citizens in the
states of California, Arizona, and Florida voted on initiatives
to ban one or both of these housing systems. The California
initiative, referred to as Prop 2, receive considerable attention,
so much that Oprah Winfrey devoted an entire episode of her
show to it, even a bringing gestation stall and battery cage to
her studio for the audience to see for themselves. The states of
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