Banning factory farms?

Could a whole country ban factory farms? Last year, 38% of Swiss voters went to the polls to vote for an amendment to the federal constitution that would, in a global first, ban intensive, or “factory,” farming. While the amendment didn’t pass, it still represents a large portion a country’s population that wants factory farming to end. Years ago, this would have been almost unimaginable.  

The Swiss campaign dovetails with—and will perhaps provide ballast for—animal rights efforts elsewhere in the West. Recently, Spain became the first country in Europe to mandate video surveillance inside slaughterhouses in order to ensure they follow best practices. Last year the Dutch city of Haarlem became the first to ban advertisements for meat.

Closer to home, Arizona became the latest state in the U.S. to ban battery cages for hens. We are keeping an eye on a bill in Oklahoma that would help farmers transition away from gestation crates—enclosures so small that mother pigs are unable to turn around during their reproductive years—to meet Prop 12 regulations and welfare certification standards.

The movement to eliminate some of the worst practices being used on factory farms is still going strong in other states. Proposals to ban some of the most extreme forms of confinement like battery cages, veal crates and gestation crates have already been introduced in five states across the country: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. The bills in Maryland and New Jersey have particularly good chances of success this year. Some states are taking even bigger leaps and are considering bills to stop the construction or expansion of the largest factory farms. These moratorium bills have been introduced in Iowa, Hawaii and Oregon.

While we are supportive of these movements, the best way to prevent the cruelty endured by farm animals is to stop eating them!