OPINION: A yes on Prop 12 is a step toward more humane, ethical farming

California’s Proposition 12 concerns the treatment of animals in its farms. This proposition attempts to help farm animals live more peacefully, and voting yes supports the initiative to establish minimum space requirements based on square feet for calves raised for veal, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens. The prop will also ban the sale of animal products from farms that do not comply with the requirements. Violations of the standard will result in a misdemeanor and up to a $1,000 fine.

A no on Prop 12 would keep the current minimum space requirements for farms. These requirements are based on animal movement rather than square feet. A no vote would continue to ban certain animal products that come from farms where animals are confined to areas deemed too small based on current standards, and not make them any stricter than they are currently. Californians should vote yes on this proposition to ensure a change in animal standards, resulting in a healthier and safer environment for farm animals that prioritizes their need for space.

It seems reasonable to vote to pass a proposition that helps animals in the farming industry, especially because the animals are so poorly treated. However, this is not the first time an initiative of this nature has been on California’s ballot. In 2008, the Humane Society put forth Proposition 2, which called to ban the confinement of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal and egg-laying hens. While the term “confinement” is very generous, the 2008 proposition called to relieve animals from inhumane environments and ensure that they have room to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs.

Despite backlash from several opponents — including the Association of California Egg Farmers, who claimed the proposition was much too vague because it did not provide exact numbers for how much space an animal should have — the proposition passed, and was finally enacted in 2015.

Prop 2 set movement standards, but did not explicitly ban the sale of veal from calves, pork from breeding pigs and eggs from hens. That is the key difference between Prop 12 and Prop 2, which would prohibit the confinement of these animals in spaces below a certain number of square feet. This would not only provide opponents with numbers, but also place more responsibility on the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health to actually enforce these laws, or else the responsibility is theirs.

Prop 12 places more accountability on these departments, and makes animal treatment standards easier to enforce by establishing a strict number with zero exceptions. Prop 2 also did not authorize a department to oversee the newly added rule, leaving local law enforcement in charge. To be frank, police are not frequently visiting farms and enforcing these laws due to various other crimes that need to be handled, rendering Prop 2 almost useless.

The Association of California Egg Farmers and National Pork Producers Council are against Prop 12 because it would be cost more for them to provide proper housing for these animals. However, the Humane Society is not backing down, and continues to fund this campaign with the help of Prevent Cruelty California, a ballot measure committee which has raised $12.8 million.

Josh Balk, vice president of the Humane Society, described this ballot initiative as the “the most transformational step forward of all-time in regards to animal protections.” These groups all support this proposition because it benefits the animals, while opponents do not believe in prioritizing the animals they are slaughtering.

Animals deserve to be treated fairly, even if they are being raised for food. It is inhumane and cruel to restrict animals to the horrid conditions of factory farms and even more unfortunate that companies are only concerned with money, regardless of the cost these animals have to pay. Prop 2 was a great start, but Prop 12 can greatly improve a farm animal’s life, which in itself is enough reason to vote yes.