Momentum is building in the three states where The HSUS and the Humane Society Legislative Fund are actively campaigning for and against animal-related ballot measures – for pro-animal measures in Massachusetts (Yes on Question 3) and Oregon (Yes on Measure 100), and against an Oklahoma referendum (No on 777) that seeks to give unjustifiable special rights to industrial farms in the Sooner State.
In Oklahoma, the state’s three prior governors have announced their opposition to the overreaching “right to farm” measure set for a vote tomorrow. “[Question] 777 is for the outsiders,” said former two-term governor Frank Keating, a Republican, “giving foreign-owned and industrialized factory farms blanket protection in our constitution.” Keating was instrumental in helping with the campaign to outlaw cockfighting in 2002, and he’s pitching in now with Democrats Brad Henry and David Walters and former four-term Attorney General Drew Edmondson to block a constitutional amendment that threatens future regulations on just about any aspect of agriculture.
What’s more, every major newspaper in the state has panned “right to farm,” which the Enid News & Eagle said “seems like a recipe for disaster” and the Talaquah Daily Press said “is masquerading as a way to protect family farms.”
Yesterday, in Massachusetts, current Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, endorsed Question 3 in Massachusetts, not long after U.S. Senator Ed Markey and a raft of Democratic Congressmen in the state did the same, in support of a measure to halt the extreme confinement of veal calves, breeding sows, and laying hens. We have a thousand volunteers working on the campaign and they are knocking on doors and touching tens of thousands of voters in the Commonwealth. Money for the opposition campaign is coming from oil man and agribusiness enthusiast Forrest Lucas, and the National Pork Producers Council. This campaign, which is expected to succeed with a resounding “yes” vote, should take us one step closer to the end of the era of extreme confinement of animals on factory farms.
Lucas, whose money failed to ensure passage of a “right to farm” measure in his home state of Indiana, is also helping to finance the campaign for the “right to farm” measure in Oklahoma. He’s joined in with Washington, D.C. lobbyist and public-relations operative Rick Berman, who creates front groups to conceal the money he receives from animal-use industries. The good news is, Berman has an abysmal record on animal welfare ballot measures, losing to us in every fight where he’s spent money. When he popped up on the grid this last week with spending, it was a good sign that the “No on Question 3” campaign and the “Yes on 777” campaign are feeling desperate. As our side lined up an incredible array of supporters, Berman trotted out tired anti-animal-welfare arguments that our polling shows don’t resonate in the least with voters.
Though they are used to losing to us, neither Lucas nor Berman has shown up to fight our ballot measure in Oregon, which would ban the trade in the parts of rare species. The latest polls show it has more than 80 percent support. Seems like they didn’t want to come out on the losing side in three of three campaigns this fall.
There are some other ballot measures where we’ve registered our opinions and reached out to supporters. Here’s the list of campaigns where we’re active, with different levels of intensity; it is crucial that you get out and vote tomorrow.
Yes on Question 3 in Massachusetts: Question 3 would phase out the extreme confinement of veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens in small crates and cages in which they’re virtually immobilized for their entire lives, and remove inhumane and unsafe products from the Massachusetts marketplace. The measure codifies the voluntary commitments already occurring in the marketplace, with McDonald’s, Walmart, and 200 other major food retail brands pledging to change their procurement practices and source only cage-free eggs and meats.
Yes on Measure 100 in Oregon: Measure 100 will help save endangered sea turtles, elephants, rhinos, and other wild animals threatened with cruel poaching and extinction. Every day close to 100 elephants are killed in Africa, and their tusks hacked off to supply the black market for ivory trinkets. Poachers poison watering holes with cyanide, killing hundreds of elephants at once. Organized criminal gangs and armed rebels use military weapons to kill wildlife for the multi-billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade. Measure 100 will ensure that Oregon does not provide a market for endangered species products resulting from wildlife poaching and trafficking.
No on Question 777 in Oklahoma: Rather than “right to farm,” State Question 777 is really more accurately described as a “right to harm” – forbidding local governments, the state legislature, or even the people (through the initiative process) from placing any restraints on any form of agriculture, except if there is a “compelling state interest.” The measure would protect corporate interests and foreign-owned Big Ag entities at the expense of Oklahoma’s family farmers, land, and animals. The measure is so broadly worded that it could prevent future restrictions on puppy mills, horse slaughter, and raising gamefowl for cockfighting. Even the president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau admitted that the language referencing a “compelling state interest” is flawed, and said, “I wish that language weren’t in there.”
No on Amendment 71 in Colorado: Under Amendment 71, instead of just gathering signatures representing five percent of the vote total in the proceeding election to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, citizens in Colorado will be required to fan out and collect large numbers of signatures in each state Senate district, no matter how thinly populated. This would make it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for Coloradans who want better treatment for animals to get protections for animals on the state’s ballot, such as the ballot initiative that protected fur-bearing animals from trappers’ cruel devices.
Yes on Proposition 67 in California: Proposition 67 would protect the state’s ban on plastic grocery bags, which wash into our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans, where they are ingested by or entangle sea turtles, otters, seals, fish, and birds. Some ocean animals mistake the bags for food, fill their stomachs with plastics, and die of starvation.
Yes on I-177 in Montana: I-177 would end commercial and recreational trapping on public lands in Montana to protect people, pets, and wildlife from indiscriminate, hidden, and baited traps. The initiative is based on the principle that Montana’s public lands, and the wildlife on them, are held in the public trust. Steel-jawed leghold traps and other body-gripping traps are indiscriminate, cruel, and dangerous, and make those public lands unsafe for pets and wildlife. Arizona passed a similar measure by a wide margin two decades ago, and several other western states, including California, Colorado, and Washington, have passed comprehensive anti-trapping measures.
As citizens, we all have both the right and the duty to participate in our political process, and it’s especially true for those of us seeking to help a voiceless constituency like animals who cannot press their own case. It’s judgment day, and I hope you’ll all get out and vote in candidate races and on the many critical issues confronting animals at the ballot box.
P.S. I’ll be posting live updates about the election on the blog tomorrow. Please follow along to learn about the outcomes of these crucial ballot measures.