The American Veterinary Medical Association issued a statement today explaining, in part: “The AVMA believes Proposition 2, ‘Standards for Confining Farm Animals,’ is admirable in its goal to improve the welfare of production farm animals; however, it ignores critical aspects of animal welfare that ultimately would threaten the well-being of the very animals it strives to protect.”

“Animal welfare is a complex issue and demands that decisions be based on science, tempered with compassion, and take into account all aspects of welfare.  Changing housing standards without consideration of how this may affect other aspects of animal welfare, such as protection from disease and injury, will not be in the animals’ or society s best interest,” says David McCrystle, DVM, AVMA executive board chairman. 

AVMA's statement goes on to outline the following points: 

  • While implementation of Proposition 2 will allow more freedom of movement for farm animals, it may also expose those animals to greater risk of injury and disease. Consequently, Proposition 2 may actually negatively impact livestock's health and welfare.
  • All aspects of animal care and housing systems must be assessed simultaneously to avoid unintended negative consequences. In contrast, Proposition 2 is narrowly focused.
  • AVMA fully supports improvements in livestock housing to address animals' behavioral and social needs, but recommendations for change must include the input of veterinarians and animal welfare scientists to ensure that any changes are science-based and address all the needs of animals.
  • AVMA supports the intention of Proposition 2 to improve animal-welfare standards for livestock and poultry in California, but, if passed, it could have unintended consequences that could very likely do more harm than good.

The best housing environments take into consideration all relevant factors, including:  freedom of movement; expression of normal behaviors; protection from disease, injury, and predators; adequate food and water; and proper handling, point out AVMA officials. "Proposition 2 would clearly provide greater freedom of movement, but would likely compromise several of the other factors necessary to ensure the overall welfare of the animals, especially with regard to protection from disease and injury," the group says. 

"We are concerned that legislating isolated, arbitrary and emotion-based criteria to implement farm animal housing systems may actually do more harm than good for the well-being of animals while compromising the sustainability of production systems that are essential to ensure we continue to have the safest, most affordable, and abundant food supply in the world," AVMA states.  

“Proposition 2 may have negative impacts on animals, consumers and the industry if it’s passed,” explains  McCrystle.  “We fully agree that more attention needs to be paid to the behavior al and social needs of food animals, and Proposition 2 is laudable in that it attempts to address these needs, but the standards in this ballot initiative fall short in improving animal welfare because they fail to adequately consider other factors."

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association