In November, California voters will decide whether to enact Proposition 2, a ballot initiative backed by animal rights activists.

The stated objective is to require that egg-laying hens, veal calves and gestating sows have adequate room to lie down, stand, turn around and fully extend their limbs, effective 2015.

The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has supported the ballot initiative, Standards for Confining Farm Animals. Since some CVMA members disagree with that stance, they have formed the Association of California Veterinarians.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) applauds efforts to promote animal welfare, but is equally concerned that negative consequences could occur if Proposition 2 is enacted.

Following is AVMA’s response to Proposition 2:
“The American Veterinary Medical Association believes Proposition 2, ‘Standards for Confining Farm Animals,’ is admirable in its goal to improve the welfare of production farm animals; however, it ignores critical aspects of animal welfare that ultimately would threaten the well-being of the very animals it strives to protect.

“The best housing environments take into consideration all relevant factors, including freedom of movement; expression of normal behaviors; protection from disease, injury and predators; adequate food and water; and proper handling. Proposition 2 would clearly provide greater freedom of movement, but would likely compromise several of the other factors necessary to ensure the overall welfare of the animals, especially with regard to protection from disease and injury.

“AVMA is the premier professional organization representing veterinarians in the United States. As such, we are not only a key medical authority on animal health and welfare, but just as importantly, we truly care about the animals we serve every day. It is in that mindset that we strive for continued improvement of animal housing systems through comprehensive, science-based evaluations with the expert input from veterinarians and animal welfare scientists.

“We are concerned that legislating isolated, arbitrary and emotion-based criteria to implement farm animal housing systems may actually do more harm than good for the well-being of the animals, while compromising the sustainability of production systems that are essential to ensure we continue to have the safest, most affordable and abundant food supply in the world.”

To find out more about AVMA’s positions on the housing of layer chickens, veal calves and pregnant sows, go to the AVMA Web site, under Animal Welfare and click on Animal Welfare Policy Statements.