Oregon initiative would ban slaughter and breeding of animals

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

Initiative Petition 13, filed with Oregon election officials in November, would remove farmers’ exemptions from existing laws prohibiting cruelty to animals and specifically target practices used for “(b) raising animals domestic, livestock and equines ”, according to the text of the initiative.

The Abuse, Neglect and Assault Exemption Amendment and Improvement Bill would remove all references to “good breeding” from state law and only allow one animal to be injured in the event of human self-defense. The sterilization and sterilization of domestic animals by a veterinarian would still be exempt.

The initiative’s sponsor, a group called End Animal Cruelty, is starting to put together the 112,000 signatures they’ll need by next summer and is working through the progressive national network ActBlue to recruit volunteers for the effort, a recently told wildlife activist David Michelson at the Portland KBOO. FM, a donor-supported radio station.

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

“State animal sanctuary”

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

Michelson said the initiative would not ban animal farming entirely, or abolish the sale of meat, leather or fur in Oregon. But cattle would have to die of natural causes before they can be used for food production, and “forced fertilization” of cattle would be banned, he said. Offenders would face criminal prosecution.

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

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

“From my experience, I can tell you that the reason the beef industry relies heavily on AI (artificial insemination) is improved genetics, which means it is more efficient with feed. , more effective in all aspects, “including winning rate, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association executive director Tammy Dennee told Farm Progress. “It would certainly be problematic to withdraw it.

“If you really sum up, we’re talking about local food production,” she said. “Consumers are very aware of buying local and understanding local food sourcing, and you don’t get better local food production than with a local beef producer. “

Colorado Initiative

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

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

Opponents including the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association argue with supporters over the initiative’s vote while staging rallies and engaging in a media blitz to explain ranching practices and reassure residents that ranchers care humane treatment of livestock.

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“It’s hard for people to continue this research in some places, but easier in others,” said John Robinson, senior vice president of memberships and communications for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Sure, they float them in low states.”

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

“It is important that the cattle ranchers present a united front to see that these things are turned around when they appear,” he said.

About 1.3 million heads

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

“Given that the CCA has members who are right on the Oregon border and operate in both states, any measure gaining momentum in Oregon similar to Colorado’s proposal could be of concern,” he said. 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 divide their time between Oregon and California during the year, depending on when grass and feed are most available.” Roberti said in an email.

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Dennee of Oregon said his organization will work with the Oregon Farm Bureau and other farm groups to mount an opposition campaign in the coming months. “This is an important issue for us,” she said. “We will be watching him closely. “

Even if the measure does not qualify for the ballot or is rejected, psychologist-turned-activist Michelson will not give up, he told KBOO. He cited recent surveys from Oklahoma State University and an animal welfare think tank that found that 47% of people in the United States want to ban slaughterhouses, and a large majority are struggling to comfortable with the overall treatment of animals.

He noted that women’s suffrage in Oregon was passed through the sixth-trial ballot initiative.

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

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