California initiative would prohibit certain housing for farm animals

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A coalition of groups has begun collecting signatures for a ballot initiative in California that would ban gestation stalls for sows, veal crates for calves, and battery cages for hens.

The coalition, Californians for Humane Farms, must collect more than 650,000 signatures to place the initiative on the state's general election ballot in November 2008. The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary are two of the groups sponsoring the measure.

The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act would prohibit housing farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.

The board of the California VMA has not determined whether the association will take a position on the ballot initiative. Valerie Fenstermaker, CVMA executive director, said the association will discuss the measure at the joint meeting of its board of governors and house of delegates at the end of January.

Ballot initiatives in two other states have prohibited certain types of housing for farm animals. A 2002 ballot initiative banned gestation stalls for sows in Florida, effective in late 2008. A 2006 ballot initiative banned gestation stalls and veal crates in Arizona, effective at the end of 2012.

Earlier this year, the Oregon legislature passed an act to phase out gestation stalls. The bill, SB 694, will take effect in 2012.