Memo to bacon and veal-chop lovers: Here we go again. Farm Sanctuary and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the same animal-rights duo whose 2002 propaganda machine bamboozled Floridians into extending constitutional protection to pigs, are funneling big bucks into a similar effort in Arizona.
With the next statewide election more than a year away, the two groups have already poured $155,000 into "Arizonans for Humane Farms," a political committee formed this year to outlaw common agricultural practices of pork and veal farmers. Observers are drawing parallels with Farm Sanctuary’s $465,000 investment in the 2002 Florida campaign, after which the group admitted to 210 instances of campaign-finance fraud and paid a $50,000 fine.
Farm Sanctuary and HSUS considered launching similar cripple-the-farmer efforts last year in California, but settled on lobbying for a statewide ban on foie gras production and suing a large California pork farm instead.
This year, Arizonans for Humane Farms — aided by HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, and a few small, local groups — is already collecting signatures for its 2006 effort to ban hog gestation stalls, the same protective animal housing they got banned in Florida three years ago.
As usual, their campaign indicates how out of touch animal rights activists are with the realities of animal welfare. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) concluded earlier this year that "no one [hog housing] system is clearly better than others." And the most recent research on gestation stalls, published in the AVMA’s Journal in 2003, concluded that pregnant pigs housed in "group pens" — the activist-approved alternative to gestation stalls — were injured more often. In addition to pregnant-sow stalls, activists want to ban individual veal-calf housing in Arizona.
And again, it’s not about animal welfare. Last year the journal The Professional Animal Scientist published research from Rutgers University that concluded:
"[Veal] stalls protect growing veal calves, reduce disease problems common in growing calves, and facilitate individualized feeding and management. Veal calves can comfortably lie down in natural positions, stand up, and groom themselves. Individual stalls have been shown to help prevent the spread of disease."
Arizonans for Humane Farms has barely gotten off the ground, and already it’s shoveling its share of manure. In addition to its propaganda about livestock farming methods – developed by a former Farm Sanctuary employee whose e-mail address begins with the words "AZ vegan" — the group’s main spokesperson is defensively claiming that the 2006 ballot initiative "isn’t an anti-meat campaign at all." Considering the anti-meat nature of its backers (click here, here, here, here, and here), that’s a hard line to swallow.