Officials of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation reacted Wednesday with comments about the passage of the Proposition 2 ballot in California. Both spoke of new challenges the legislation poses to animal agriculture and the need for livestock and poultry producers to educate consumers about animals raised for food.

“Now that the ballot initiative has passed, veterinarians and animal welfare scientists must be involved in its implementation to make sure that resulting changes in animal housing actually improve conditions for the animals they are intended to help,” said AVMA chief executive officer Ron DeHaven, DVM. “If we're not careful, animal health and welfare problems could be precipitated that are as significant as the concerns Proposition 2 aspires to address.”

The AFBF also expressed its disappointment in the passage of the bill which they think will cause more products to be produced outside the state of California and will likely have serious impacts for consumers and California’s egg producers.

“The result points out the lack of understanding that people who voted for Proposition 2 have of agriculture, and it highlights the need for all of America’s farm and ranch families to focus on engaging consumers to communicate their knowledge of and commitment to animal care,” said Bob Stallman, AFBF president. “The realities of modern, family-owned and -operated agriculture and the professional dedication of our farm families are largely not understood by America’s consumers. As an industry, we must help non-farmers understand our industry.”

The AFBF further believes that the passing of Proposition 2 and similar laws that have passed in Florida, Arizona and Oregon will likely increase food imports from countries that do not have food safety laws similar to those in the United States.

“If eggs and other food products produced by California farmers are displaced by production from other nations, we believe that Proposition 2 will have serious implications for food safety,” Stallman said.

Stallman said farm and ranch families need to “talk to neighbors, lawmakers, business leaders – essentially anyone who will listen – to help them acquire a realistic picture of modern agriculture.”