Submitted July 17, 2008
Treatment of Farm Animals.
Animal agriculture is a major industry in California.
Over 40 million animals are raised for commercial purposes on California farms
and ranches. California’s leading livestock commodities are milk and other dairy
products, cattle, and chickens.
In recent years, there has been a growing public
awareness about farm animal production methods, and how these practices affect
the treatment of the animals. In particular, concerns have been expressed about
some animal farming practices, including the housing of certain animals in
confined spaces, such as cages or other restrictive enclosures.
Partly in response to these concerns, various animal
farming industries have made changes in their production practices. For example,
certain industries have developed guidelines and best practices aimed, in part,
at improving the care and handling of farm animals.
State law prohibits cruelty to animals. Under state law,
for example, any person who keeps an animal confined in an enclosed area is
required to provide it with an adequate exercise area, and permit access to
adequate shelter, food, and water. Other laws specifically related to farm
animals generally focus on the humane transportation and slaughter of these
animals. Depending upon the specific violation, an individual could be found
guilty of a misdemeanor or felony punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.
Beginning January 1, 2015, this measure prohibits with
certain exceptions the confinement on a farm of pregnant pigs, calves raised for
veal, and egg-laying hens in a manner that does not allow them to turn around
freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. Under the measure, any
person who violates this law would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a
fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment in county jail for up to six months.
Compared to current practice most commonly used by
California farmers in the affected industries, this measure would require more
space and/or alternate methods for housing pregnant pigs, calves raised for
veal, and egg-laying hens. As a result, this measure would increase production
costs for some of these farmers. To the extent that these higher production
costs cause some farmers to exit the business, or otherwise reduce overall
production and profitability, there could be reduced state and local tax
revenues. The magnitude of this fiscal effect is unknown, but potentially in the
range of several million dollars annually.
Additionally, this measure could result in unknown, but
probably minor, local and state costs for enforcement and prosecution of
individuals charged with the new animal confinement offense. These costs would
be partially offset by revenue from the collection of misdemeanor fines.
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