I spoke with Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States, who said that such ballot measures, introduced in states where they are likely to pass, do much more than reform a single states' animal treatment laws. They are a message to American industry as a whole that considering animal welfare is increasingly within their economic self-interest. California agribusinesses, fearing a rise in operating costs, spent heavily to combat Proposition 2 and have nothing to show for it. Markarian is hoping that all animal-related businesses will draw the lesson that it is simply cheaper to improve animal treatment of their own accord, rather than risk a costly political fight they will probably lose.Proposition 2, which passed with 63 percent of the vote (63 percent!), says that confined animals must now be able to "lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely." If you've ever seen a vegetarian information pamphlet, you'll know how impossible this currently is given factory farming practices.
Animal rights aren't by any means a political issue per se, and in posting this here I don't want to court the perception that I consider the question part of a new Democratic political agenda. There are a few notable Republican animal rights activists (even a Bushie or two). It's a good day for everyone when we outlaw veal crates and battery cages, no matter who you voted for.