Oregon initiative would ban animal slaughter and breeding

A proposed 2022 Oregon ballot initiative would effectively criminalize the raising of food animals in the state by classifying their slaughter as an aggravated abuse and redefining artificial insemination and castration as sexual assault. .

The Initiative 13 petition, filed with Oregon election officials in November, would remove farmers’ exemptions from existing laws prohibiting animal cruelty and specifically target practices used to “(b) raise domestic animals, farmed and equine”, according to the initiative text.

The Abuse, Neglect and Assault Exemption Amendment and Enhancement Bill would remove all references to “good animal husbandry” from state law and only allow an animal to be harmed in the self-defense of a human being. Neutering and spaying of pets by a veterinarian would still be exempt.

The initiative’s sponsor, a group called End Animal Cruelty, begins collecting all 112,000 signatures what they will need by next summer and works through the national progressive network ActBlue to recruit volunteers for the effort, animal activist David Michelson recently told KBOO-FM of Portlanda donor-supported radio station.

“It would dramatically transform the way we treat animals in the state of Oregon,” Michelson told the station.

“Animal Sanctuary State”

“If this passes,” he told KBOO, “Oregon would essentially be an animal sanctuary state. Any animal in the state of Oregon would have their rights more or less codified in law, whether he deserves a life free from abuse, neglect or sexual assault.

Michelson said the initiative would not completely ban animal agriculture, nor abolish the sale of meat, leather or fur in Oregon. But livestock would have to die of natural causes before they could be used for food production, and the “forced impregnation” of livestock would be banned, he said. Violators would be subject to criminal prosecution.

Representatives of Yes on IP13 country did not return an email from Farm Progress seeking comment.

Related: The Nation’s Eyes on Colorado’s Battle for Meat

Herder groups say the initiative has dangerous implications for their industry. They note that the wording of the proposal specifically targets livestock transport, poultry production and commonly accepted slaughter methods as well as fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife management and other activities related to animals.

“From my experience, I can tell you that the reason the beef industry relies heavily on AI (artificial insemination) is to improve genetics, which means they are more efficient with feeds, more efficient with all aspects,” including the rate of gain, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association executive director Tammy Dennee told Farm Progress. “It would certainly be problematic to remove it.

“If you really sum it up, we’re talking about local food production,” she said. “Consumers are very conscious about buying local and understanding the local food supply, and you don’t get better local food production than you get from a local beef producer.”

Colorado Initiative

The proposal comes as animal welfare activists in Colorado collect signatures for a similar 2022 ballot measure called the PAUSE (Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation) initiative.

It would ban artificial insemination and other commonly accepted veterinary and animal care practices in Colorado and ban the slaughter of cattle that have not yet lived more than a quarter of their expected lifespan, which for cattle would be about five years.

Opponents, including the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, are clashing with supporters over the initiative’s voting language while holding rallies and engaging in a media blitz to explain herding practices and reassure residents about the fact that ranchers care about the humane treatment of livestock.

Related: Colorado ag unites to celebrate the livestock industry

“It’s hard for people to sue them in some places, but easier in others,” said John Robinson, senior vice president of membership and communications for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Certainly, they float them into handy states.”

The NCBA serves as a “clearinghouse” as it coordinates with breeders’ associations and ranchers across the state to fight the measures, Robinson told Farm Progress.

“It’s important that cattle ranchers present a united front to see these things are reversed when they arise,” he said.

About 1.3 million head

Oregon’s roughly 12,000 beef producers raise about 1.3 million head of cattle in the state’s 36 counties, the OCA’s Dennee said. In addition, many Northern California ranchers truck thousands of head of cattle to Oregon for summer pasture. As cows have a 9 month gestation cycle, AI for spring calving would occur in summer.

“Given that the CCA has members that sit just across the Oregon border and operate in both states, any measures gaining momentum in Oregon, similar to the Colorado proposal, could be cause for concern” , said Katie Roberti, director of communications for the California Cattlemen’s Association.

“There could also be concerns about the implications for California ranchers whose cattle split their time between Oregon and California over the course of the year, depending on when grass and feed are best available.” , Roberti said in an email.

Related: Activists call for scrutiny of ‘mega-dairies’ in lawsuit

Dennee, of Oregon, said his organization would work with the Oregon Farm Bureau and other farm groups to organize an opposition campaign in the coming months. “It’s an important issue for us,” she said. “We will be watching this closely.”

Even if the measure fails to qualify for the ballot or is voted down, psychologist-turned-activist Michelson won’t give up, he told KBOO. He quoted recent polls by Oklahoma State University and an animal welfare think tank that found 47% of U.S. respondents want to ban slaughterhouses, and large majorities are uncomfortable with the general treatment of animals.

He noted that women’s suffrage in Oregon passed by vote on the sixth try.

“We will continue to present it to voters,” he said, “until a better world is here.”

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