Although counterintuitive at first glance, the Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are usually on opposing sides of debates about animal safety in food production. While the Humane Society is heavily involved in legislating solutions to animal cruelty in the food industry, PETA is often more interested in visible and performative demonstrations illustrating the drawbacks of animal farming and consumption generally.
These organizations find themselves on opposing sides for Proposition 12 on the California Ballot for the 2018 midterms, which proposes specifications for minimum cage sizes and volumes for categories of animals, including egg-laying hens, veal, and breeding pigs. The Humane Society is funding in support of the ballot measure, and the more radical PETA is funding in opposition. PETA argues that this proposition is regressive, putting animals such as hens back in cages when they were freed in 2015. Representatives for the Humane Society have responded that PETA is more interested in getting rid of cages and eggs for consumption altogether instead of finding a better solution.
The proposition referenced in 2015 was linked to a similar ballot measure that passed in California in 2008. However, it did not offer minimum sizes or specify animals and instead required enough space for each animal in question. That is where PETA’s argument of “returning to cages” comes from. However, groups in favor of Prop 12 respond that the vague language of the first proposition has lead to little change in how livestock are treated in production, and that the results are horrifying and even impact food safety and contamination. Instead, they argue, these firm guidelines are an important step in regulating an industry important to California’s economy and balancing economic growth with sustainable lifestyle changes.
Whatever your political affiliation or opinion about livestock farming, remember that your voice counts at the polls in every election, including during midterms! And do not forget to vote down ballot, even if you do not like your options at the top of the ticket, such as presidential, gubernatorial, or congressional candidates. Your vote will have an even bigger impact on local issues in your state and in your city where you live! Make a plan for how you are going to vote this coming Tuesday, November 6, including what time you are going to go, how you are going to get yourself there, and how to incorporate it into your usual routine.