September 15, 2008

 

 AVMA concerned about California ballot initiative


 

This November, California voters will decide on Proposition 2, a ballot initiative sponsored by a coalition of animal protection groups requiring that egg-laying hens, veal calves, and pregnant sows have room enough to lie down, stand, turn around, and fully extend their limbs, effective 2015. The initiative, Standards for Confining Farm Animals, is backed by the California VMA. Some CVMA members have formed the Association of California Veterinarians largely because they disagree with their association's support for Proposition 2.

Although the AVMA applauds every effort to promote animal welfare, the Association is concerned about possible, unintended negative consequences to animal welfare of enacting the measure. Following is the 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."

The Association's positions on the housing of layer chickens, veal calves, and pregnant sows are available on the AVMA Web site (www.avma.org) under Animal Welfare by clicking on AVMA Animal Welfare Policy Statements.