Beef on the ballot
Local egg and cattle producers worry about initiative's effects
By By Laura Brown Staff Writer,
At least one local rancher is worried a state initiative regulating the treatment of farm animals and set to appear before voters this November could add another cost and burdensome regulation to his operation.Others think the measure could generate a shift in consumer tastes, driving more people to chose small farms over agriculture giants.
Locally, demand already has grown for fresh food produced closer to home, including for the prize-winning, rainbow-hued eggs Janey Powers raises on her Hopeful Hill Ranch west of Nevada City.
She sells egg by subscription and has a waiting list.
As an animal lover, Powers said she is torn by the initiative.
“It is hard on chickens to be raised in small cages,” she said. On the other hand, a large number of chickens in one space can create a dangerous situation when birds begin pecking at one another. “Giving them a lot of room is almost as bad. It’s kind of a two-edged sword,” she said.
Even though his cows graze on wild grasses rather than in a feed lot, Rancher Jim Gates of Nevada County Free Range Beef thinks the initiative, if it passes, could jeopardize the cattle industry by opening the door for more regulations. Read More
It is important to remember that Proposition 2 in California may seem to be only about laying hens and hogs, but all of us in agriculture could be affected by this vote. This is essentially another piece of a national initiative to regulate animal agriculture out of this country by the Humane Society of the United States. We can no longer afford to have the attitude that agriculture as a whole doesn’t need to work together.