One inescapable conclusion in studying the Proposition 2 campaign—the ballot initiative to halt the use of small cages to confine veal calves, breeding sows, and laying hens, and to provide them with room to turn around—is the breadth of our support and the narrowness of the opponents’ coalition.
There are scant few individuals outside of the factory farming business who financially support the No on 2 campaign. Two-thirds of the $7.5 million poured into their campaign comes from factory farms outside of California, and almost all of their money comes from companies confining hens in barren battery cage systems. The veal industry and the hog industry have given token opposition and financial support to the No on 2 campaign, largely because these industries seem to recognize that change within their industries is inevitable and already embraced by many of its leaders. Why use finite resources on costly and difficult political fights when they can begin investing money in more humane housing systems?
Contrast that with the YES! on Prop 2 campaign. There were 4,000 people, representing all 58 counties, who devoted dozens or hundreds of hours to collect signatures to put the measure on the ballot. There are thousands of donors to the campaign, with the preponderance of them coming from California.
And in terms of endorsers, the YES! on Prop 2 campaign rules the roost. We have the leading humane organizations, including The HSUS, the ASPCA, Farm Sanctuary, and the California State Humane Association. We have the state’s leading and largest and oldest veterinary group, the California Veterinary Medical Association, while the opponents were forced to create a new veterinary group, the Association of California Veterinarians, after they failed to win over the CVMA.
All of the leading environmental organizations that have weighed in side with YES! on Prop 2, including the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and Defenders of Wildlife, because they know that factory farms pollute air and water. Even though the No on 2 campaign brands itself Californians for Safe Food, they don’t have any credible food safety organizations on their side, while we have the Center for Food Safety, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest backing Proposition 2.
The opponents claim they are fighting for consumers, but where are their consumers? The powerful Consumer Federation of America stands with us. And while the No on 2 campaign has the factory farmers and agribusiness groups like the California Farm Bureau, we have more than 100 California family farms that have endorsed Proposition 2, along with family farming organizations such as Family Farm Defenders and the leading farm union organization, the United Farm Workers.
The Yes on 2 campaign also has a raft of religious leaders from the entire spectrum, from Rabbis and Evangelical leaders to Protestant Bishops and presidents of seminaries and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. Many statewide elected officials including U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have endorsed, along with School Superintendent Jack O’Connell, Treasurer and former Attorney General Bill Lockyer. We have Latino leaders like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and State Sen. Dean Florez (Bakersfield), and African American leaders including Congresswomen Maxine Waters (Los Angeles) and Barbara Lee (Oakland). Just yesterday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (San Diego) and Republican Congressmen John Campbell (Orange County) and Elton Gallegly (Ventura) wrote a letter to other members of the California Congressional Delegation urging support for the measure.
Last week, the Santa Barbara News-Press endorsed Proposition 2. And earlier this week, the San Diego Union Tribune, whose editorial board has a decidedly conservative bent, endorsed Proposition 2, knocking down the false and deceptive arguments of opponents on the effects that Proposition 2 will have on food safety, the price of eggs, and the factory farmers’ ability to compete if they can no longer use particularly inhumane confinement systems.
The Union Tribune had it just right: "In the end, Proposition 2 is about the basic humane treatment of animals, even those raised for food."
Big money and small cages only get you so far. Our grassroots campaign is poised to compete for votes in every county in the state with every constituency, and that’s just what we are doing every day.