In a landmark announcement last week, McDonald’s Corporation committed to using only cage-free eggs in all of its U.S. and Canada store locations within the next 10 years. Given the purchasing power of McDonald’s, this is huge news for animals.
Battery cages—archaic wire cages in which egg-laying hens are forced to live so closely packed together they can barely move—are still standard in the egg industry. Hens suffer injuries, disease and the repression of their natural behaviors in these conditions. Some states and companies have turned away from this cruel practice, but this move by McDonald’s, which purchases billions of eggs annually, is a giant leap toward our goal of eliminating battery cages for good.
The McDonald’s announcement coincides with efforts by the ASPCA and other groups to pass a historic ballot measure in Massachusetts to ban the sale of products from farms using battery cages, veal crates and gestation crates (severe and cruel forms of confinement that barely allow egg-laying hens, veal calves or pregnant pigs to move or engage in normal behaviors). A large and exciting effort is underway right now to gather enough signatures in Massachusetts to get this measure on the November 2016 ballot. Even if you don’t live in Massachusetts, you can help! Please visit the campaign website to learn more.
September is National Chicken Month, making it the ideal time to issue a special challenge to consumers: Change Your Chicken! This 30-day challenge encourages shoppers to avoid the worst factory-farmed chicken products and instead choose those bearing meaningful animal welfare certifications.
Most chickens raised in the U.S. come from factory farms and live in deplorable conditions. They’re crammed together by the tens of thousands on top of their own waste, never seeing sunlight, and are bred to balloon up to crippling weights. The industry isn’t motivated to make improvements because business is booming—that’s where you, as a consumer, come in. Vote with your wallet and tell Big Chicken that it’s time for a change.
Here are some ways to participate in this important challenge:
Whether or not you buy chicken, we can all agree that these birds deserve better lives and that consumers should be making informed choices, so spread the word to friends and family. Together we can change chickens’ lives.
In the veal industry, calves are often confined and tethered by their necks, rendered virtually immobile for nearly all of their short lives. Female breeding pigs face a similar fate: Confined to gestation crates, pregnant pigs cannot take more than one step in any direction. But if voters get their say, that may soon change in Massachusetts.
This morning, animal advocates gathered in Boston as Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, a coalition of animal welfare groups including the ASPCA, announced a new ballot proposal to phase out extreme and inhumane confinement systems used for breeding pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens in factory farms in the Bay State.
The cages and crates generally used to confine these animals are among the cruelest forms of factory farming. Forced to live in spaces barely larger than their bodies, hens, veal calves and pregnant pigs are often unable to even lie down, turn around or extend their limbs. The coalition will collect more than 90,000 signatures in order to qualify the proposal for the 2016 statewide ballot.
If approved by voters, Massachusetts will join 10 other states that have already passed laws cracking down on this type of farm animal abuse.
In addition to the ASPCA, the coalition includes the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Rescue League of Boston and The Humane Society of the United States, along with family farmers, veterinarians and public health professionals. The measure has won support from food safety advocates.
This is a huge step forward for Massachusetts’s farm animals, but we’re not there yet! Bay State advocates: if this important measure is to get on next year’s ballot, we’ll need your help. Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today to stay up-to-date as the campaign moves forward and for opportunities to help.
“So many animal confinement practices on farms are unacceptably cruel, preventing animals from fully extending their limbs or even turning around freely,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “No animal should have to suffer like that. We support this ballot initiative that rejects some of the cruelest farming practices used today.”
We need your help urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close a critical loophole for calves. Currently, slaughterhouses can slaughter “downer” veal calves (those too sick, weak or injured to stand and walk) rather than humanely euthanizing them. Investigations have revealed horrific animal abuse at slaughter plants, with workers kicking, slapping, dragging and electrically shocking calves in order to get them to stand and walk. Some of these calves are merely days old.
The USDA has proposed a rule requiring that downer calves be promptly and humanely euthanized on-site, and is now soliciting public feedback. Please help us ensure the proposed rule does not get watered down: let the USDA hear your voice today!
In a pivotal decision, a federal judge in Idaho has ruled that an ag-gag law violates the first and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, striking this terrible law from the books. This is the first time a court has ruled on the constitutionality of an ag-gag law, and the ASPCA is hopeful that this decision will mark the beginning of the end of these dangerous laws.
The Idaho statute, which passed in 2014 despite outcry from both humane and food industry voices, criminalizes undercover investigations into animal welfare, food safety, or worker safety at industrial farms. Under the law, workers, investigators or good Samaritans could be convicted for documenting and exposing animal abuse or dangerous public health risks.
Exposés on farms are a critical animal-protection tool, forming the basis of animal cruelty prosecutions and spurring reforms to ensure the safety of our food supply. In the past few years, in an effort to protect their bottom line from the consumer awareness these investigations provoke, the animal agriculture industry has been driving the introduction of ag-gag/anti-whistleblower bills in state legislatures across the country. A broad coalition of groups spanning animal welfare, workers’ rights, food safety, sustainable farming and environmental interests has worked together to block over 30 bills. Despite this collaborative work and broad public opposition to these bills, laws have passed in five states.
It is a great victory for farm animals, their advocates and whistleblowers across the country that the dangerous Idaho law has been deemed unconstitutional. The ASPCA applauds this decision and hopes it sends a clear message to the animal agriculture industry that hiding abuses and punishing whistleblowers is no way to conduct business in this country.
Sign the Open the Barns pledge to be an advocate against ag-gag in your state, and spread the word about these dangerous bills to your friends and family.