Ag Today March 7, 2018

‘History in the making’: California aims for world’s highest farm animal welfare law

New law would ban the sale of all eggs, pork or veal from a caged animal, putting the state ahead of the EU – if campaigners can get enough signatures

Charlotte Simmonds in San Francisco – Wed 7 Mar 2018 07.48 EST

They call Chris Winn the signatures guy. A delivery driver by day, he spends his free time drumming up support for animal rights. “When I did the shark fin ban I got 4,000 signatures,” says Winn, 53. “Usually I’m the top guy in California.”

Now he’s on a new mission. It’s a cold Saturday afternoon in San Francisco and Winn is jubilant, bundled in a hat and sweatshirt, scouting for signatories for a proposed law that would ban the sale of any eggs, pork or veal that comes from an animal that spent its life in a cage. If passed it would be the most progressive farm animal welfare law in the world.

The law is only possible thanks to the quirky US ballot measure system which allows organisations and individuals to bypass politicians and put potential laws directly to a vote by the general population – as long as they can get enough signatures to support the measure in the first place. In California that means collecting a tremendous 365,000 signatures – and so for the last four months animal lovers across the state have been fanning out on street corners every chance they get, clipboards in hand.

So far they are nearing 200,000, but even with less than two months to go before the 1 May deadline, Carol Misseldine, the campaign’s northern California coordinator, is optimistic. “The response has been very positive,” she says when we meet, as volunteers assembled for a day of signature hunting. “Most people see it as a no-brainer. That being said, we are all gonna have to hustle.”

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