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August 12, 2010

Momentum Against Factory Farms Makes Headlines

Today, we announced that a federal judge has ordered a trial in a federal legal case we brought against a polluting egg factory farm in the Central Valley of California. The giant Olivera Egg Ranch regularly confines more than 700,000 hens in cramped cages and dumps 133,000 pounds of manure every day into lake-sized cesspools that release large amounts of ammonia and other noxious gases. The suit alleges that Olivera's failure to report its daily pollution violates two federal environmental laws, and the horrible odors and severe discomfort the facility causes constitute a nuisance under California state law. The neighbors of this factory farm have been dealing with the horrible effects of this pollution for years, with no hope of turning around the situation. That changed when The HSUS launched Prop 2 (which takes effect in January 2015) and took this specific legal action.

Egg-laying hens confined in a battery cage
The HSUS
Egg-laying hens confined in a battery cage.

And yesterday, we announced that two major cruise lines—Carnival and Royal Caribbean—will each switch millions of eggs from caged hens to eggs from cage-free hens. These companies are the latest of hundreds we’ve worked with and reflect the emerging consciousness about animal welfare in the nation, and the resolve of more corporations to be part of the solution.

These are just the latest markers of progress in our drive to combat factory farming. Vast numbers of animals are raised and killed for food in our society, and we can ensure that they are raised more humanely than they are today. Subjecting sentient creatures to lifelong immobilization in small cages and crates barely larger than their own bodies is cruel and inhumane. Today, Eric Eckholm of The New York Times had a front-page story that reports on the progress we are making in Ohio, where we negotiated a set of agreements with Gov. Ted Strickland, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural interests. The Times story indicated that the concessions by agriculture groups "are the latest sign that so-called factory farming — a staple of modern agriculture that is seen by critics as inhumane and a threat to the environment and health — is on the verge of significant change."

Given that billions of animals are caught up in this industrial food production system, we consider it a high priority to address these issues and to begin to turn around this situation. A nation that put a man on the moon 40 years ago can figure out a better way to raise animals other than in endless rows of cages that deny the animals the ability to engage in virtually any movement whatsoever.

P.S. We are also driving change in the fur industry. Yesterday, the California Senate cleared an HSUS-sponsored bill that requires labeling on all animal fur garments, regardless of the value of the fur. That bill now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and if he signs it, California will be the sixth state to have a fur labeling requirement, allowing conscious consumers to reject these products. We also passed a bill to require labeling of all fur-trimmed garments in the U.S. House of Representatives just before the August recess, and the Truth in Fur Labeling Act is now pending in the Senate.

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