Changes in U.S. Animal Food Policy

Implemented through
Proposition 204, effective 2012.
Sow gestation crates, stalls for veal calves.
Proposition 2, effective 2015.
Sow gestation crates, stalls for veal calves, cages for chickens.
SB 201, in response to initiative 64 that was withdrawn, effective 2012 for veal and 2018 for sows.
Sow gestation crates, stalls for veal calves.
Amendment 10, effective in 2008.
Sow gestation crates, stalls for veal calves.
LD 201, effective January 2011.
Sow gestation crates, stalls for veal calves.
HB 5127, effective 2012 for veal calves, 2019 for hens and sows.
Sow gestation crates, stalls for veal calves, cages for chickens.
Constitutional amendment as a result of a general election ballot initiative.
Puts in place a Livestock Care Standards Board.
Compromise agreement between Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Ohio Farm Bureau.
Hog gestation crates by 2025, gestation crates on any new facility built after 2010. Battery cages on any new egg facility.
SB 694, effective 2012.
Sow gestation crates.


What Policy Malers Can Do

What we all do in our personal lives matters, but more important, the livestock sector must be required to pay the true costs of production and to become financially accountable for any harm it causes.

Decentralization of production through smaller, locally adapted operations is the only way to spread wastes appropriately across the landscape. Subsidies for cheap grain, water, grazing leases, and other means of production must be replaced by mechanisms and incentives to reward producers and landowners for environmental protection and stewardship.

The following policy steps are essential to bringing the CAFO production system into environmental, ethical, and economic compliance, as recommended by leading organizations and scientific panels.

  • Phase out the use of antimicrobials for nontherapeutic (i.e., growth-promoting) purposes in food animals to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance to important human medicines.
  • Regulate or phase out the most egregious, intensive, and inhumane forms of animal factory confinement, such as battery cages (for laying hens); gestation crates (for sows); restrictive farrowing crates (for sows); veal crates (for male dairy calves); tethering; force feeding of geese and ducks; tail docking of dairy cattle as well as hogs; and forced molting of laying hens by feed removal.
  • Phase out the construction of new CAFOs and the expansion of existing facilities.
  • Establish and enforce strong pollution laws and water use permits, as well as pollution reporting requirements for CAFO producers to protect all citizens from the adverse environmental and health hazards of improperly handled waste.
  • Reduce the number and scope of exemptions for agriculture operations from existing or proposed environmental and animal cruelty laws.
  • Impose strict regulations on the hazardous substances contained in manure.
  • End air emission monitoring study programs that essentially allow factory farms to violate air quality standards. Develop new regulations that would reduce emissions of ammonia and other air pollutants from CAFOs, and ensure that CAFO operators cannot avoid such regulations by encouraging ammonia volatilization.
  • Address the concentration of corporate power in livestock markets by strict enforcement of antitrust and anticompetitive practice and by enacting other measures to increase competition in the livestock industry.
  • Create and fund programs that revive animal husbandry practices and training.
  • Protect all domestic livestock—including poultry—under state, national, and universal codes of conduct for animal welfare.
  • Reform policies that encourage the overproduction of corn, soybeans, and other commodities, which has resulted in cheap feed for animals in CAFOs. Replace feed crop subsidies with programs that strengthen conservation and support prices when supplies are high (rather than allowing prices to fall below the costs of production).
  • Allow local governments to regulate CAFOs through their health or zoning laws.
  • Reduce the use of U.S. Farm Bill conservation dollars that fund CAFO waste management under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and shift support toward sound animal farming practices.
  • Revise slaughterhouse regulations to facilitate larger numbers of smaller processors, including eliminating requirements not appropriate for smaller facilities.
  • Take public health measures such as providing adequate numbers of federal inspectors or empowering and training state inspectors.
  • Substantially increase funding for research to improve alternative livestock production methods—especially those that are pasture-based—that are beneficial to the environment, public health, and rural communities.

Special thanks to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Food and Water Watch for contributing to these recommendations.

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