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Friday, April 4, 2014

Governing by emotion

by Pete Crow - Publisher

I just can’t seem to get California’s Proposition 2 egg law off my mind this week. In 2008, California voters passed a measure on the general ballot to ban the use of battery cages for egg laying hens; it was inhumane to put those birds in those small cages.

California certainly isn’t the center of the universe in the egg business. California legislators, realizing that they had put all their egg producers at a competitive disadvantage, passed another law in 2010 that banned the sale of any eggs from other states that weren’t raised by California standards. It seems odd that we have protectionism between our own United States. State’s rights may be going a little too far in this case.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran the story last week about six states filing suit to overturn California’s egg laws, claiming that the egg laws violate interstate commerce laws. What struck me a few days later when WSJ ran the letters to the editor on the issue, was that every letter supported the idea. Letters from individuals in New York, Seattle and York, SC, all had an emotional response for chicken humanity.

Then there was the letter from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), saying if the plaintiffs don’t like the egg laws that California has a right to impose, they should take it further and create a national standard for egg laying hens and egg production. And frankly this is the first time I’ve heard the food safety spin in regard to battery cages.

I imagine that I’ve been letting the anti-agricultural activists get under my skin lately. But this stuff never stops. These groups all want more regulations to what is rarely disputed as the safest food system in the world. But you’ve also heard that a hundred times.

I would have to say on behalf of all the chickens in California, that elections have consequences. It’s amazing how the HSUS has been able to go through the petition process and get some of these initiatives on states' ballots. We have a couple of them coming up this fall regarding cow tail docking. And, of course, HSUS is behind it. The emotions involved in animal agriculture are strong for those who have nothing to do with it—Jane Consumer. These folks have a difficult time understanding why a certain method is used and can only relate it to themselves. They are alive and have feelings and emotions, so cattle, pigs and chickens must have exactly the same feelings and emotions. So if I’m a rational thinker, that chicken is a rational thinker too. I don’t think it works that way, but it’s the way it is.

I don’t know how the livestock industry amassed so many enemies advocating for the complete destruction of an industry, and in the end they are a very small group of people.

What puzzles me is that animal agriculture is thriving; folks want to consume meat, eggs and dairy products in the U.S. and we have a lot of customers around the world who want more of it.

Don’t they realize that consuming animal protein is here to stay? I just don’t get the logic of all these activist groups fostering more regulations borne by emotion.

If California, as a rational government, is allowed to say what eggs can be sold into the state and direct a certain production standard to the rest of the nation, there are going to be problems. What’s going to happen when states start banning the use of implants or other proven production methods used in the beef industry? Can a state legislate a production method?

There is clearly one common denominator in all these welfare issues being voted on by citizens and state legislators and it’s HSUS. They have become masters at using the ballot process to advance their agenda and they will use anybody to do their dirty work. Stop and think about these guys; they appeal to emotions to get big donations from concerned citizens. Then they turn around and spend it for lobbying. In the big picture, they are small and dedicated to changing or eliminating animal agriculture, and at times I think they place a higher priority on animals than they do humanity.

So, when does it become less about the chickens and more about mankind? — PETE CROW