California Activist Groups Form State Association

A number of animal rights groups in California have banded into a new statewide coalition, the California Animal Association, to “represent the interest of animals at the [California] state capitol.”

A press release sent out by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights announcing the formation of the group said,

After more than a year of planning, CAA was formed to bring a stronger and more cohesive voice for animal protection to Sacramento. Many of the animal welfare and animal rights groups involved in CAA have individually or in small groups worked on legislation to strengthen animal protection laws or to defeat legislation that weakens protections for animals with California.

The members of the coalition include: American Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Legislative Action Network, Animal Place, Animal Protection Institute, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, California Animal Defense and Anti-Vivisection League, California Lobby for Animal Welfare, Doctors for Kindness to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, In Defense of Animals, Last Chance for Animals, Orange County People for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, The Paw Project, United Animal Nations, United Poultry Concerns and Viva! USA.


Animals gain strong and unprecedented voice in Sacramento. Teri Barnato, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Press Release, January 12, 2005.

Meat Eating Continues to Grow

You probably missed it, but Farm USA’s World Farm Animals Day was October 2. Ahead of the WFAD, Farm USA released a report confirming the obvious — despite all the efforts of animal rights activists, meat consumption in the United States continues to grow far faster than population.

Farm USA extrapolated from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service data to estimate that in 2004 the number of animals (not including aquatic animals) killed for food in the United States rose 2.5 percent to 10.2 billion. The vast majority of those animals — 9.39 billion — are broiler chickens.

According to Farm USA,

The rise in the animal death toll is double the annual U.S. population increase (currently 294.3 million) and reflects the continuing trend of switching from cow meat to chicken meat (a cow yields 200 times the amount of flesh in a chicken). In more personal terms, the average American is directly responsible for the abuse and death of 2,485 chickens, 78 turkeys and ducks, 33 pigs, and 11 cows and sheep during a 75-year life span.

Hmm….makes my mouth water.

Farm USA posted a number of pictures from World Farm Animal Day demonstrations around the world, and I think the winner had to be this one,

That’s Dan Holbert of Florida-based Body of Animal Rights Campaigners (BARC, get it?) Way to go, Dan. As I always say, a pig is a rat is a caged animal rights activist.


World Farm Animals Day 2004 Preliminary Report. Farm USA, October 2004.

Death toll continues to rise. Press Release, Farm USA, September 25, 2004.

UPC and Other Groups Urge Signing of SB 1520

Yesterday, I noted that Friends of Animals sent out a press release opposing California SB 1520 which would outlaw force feeding of birds for the production of foie gras in 2012. Shortly after the Friends of Animals press release, United Poultry Concerns issued a press release urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the bill and slamming groups opposed to the bill.

The UPC press release said it was joined in support of the bill by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, VivaUSA, Farm Sanctuary, In Defense of Animals,, and the Animal Protection and Rescue League.

According to UPC,

The bill if enacted will abolish a farmed animal abuse. The fact that
there will be a phase-in period is not a reason to oppose this bill. We have
applauded the banning of battery-hen cages in the European Union and in
Austria, and the banning of sow gestation crates in Florida, but all of this
important legislation for farmed animals includes phase-in periods. No one
who supports farmed animal protective legislation wants to wait for the law
to take effect, but that is now how the legislative process works. Yes, the
foie gras industry is going to use the time to try to overturn the law and
do other nefarious things, but this means that our public education work is
cut out for us. Given the facts of foie gras production and the videotaping
of the procedure that we have (Delicacy of Despair), it seems unlikely that
the public is going to be persuaded to abandon the ducks and oppose a ban on
foie gras production and sale in California.

. . .

Those groups who actively oppose SB 1520 could lobby at state and federal
levels to try to enact legislation that would ban foie gras production/sale
immediately, but they are not doing so. Instead, they are obstructing the
passage of this bill while offering no real alternative, just bashing the
bill and the groups that have worked so hard to get the bill introduced and
to retain as much of the original intent of the bill as possible.

United Poultry Concerns urges activists to support SB 1520 and to refuse to
reject this opportunity in pursuit of a purist fantasy. The objections being
raised against SB 1520 are unrealistic given the realities of the
legislative process and the enormous obstacles that farmed animals have
traditionally faced legislatively. Sabotaging this bill is going to hurt the
ducks, not help them.

The foie gras ban is one of about 1,000 bills that Schwarzenegger must either sign or veto by then end of September. Schwarzenegger has previously called the bill “silly” and pointed to it as an example of why California needs a part-time legislature.


Why UPC Supports SB 1520 and Urges Everyone Else to Support the Bill. Press Release, United Poultry Concerns, August 31, 2004.

An Example of How Animal Rights Extremists Rationalize Violence

Animal rights activist Ari Moore, who says he is a member of both People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Farm Sanctuary, has a post on his weblog in which he rationalizes his desire to engage in violence to further the animal rights cause. Moore’s thoughts on violence are inspired by an issue of Satya magazine that offered a platform for advocates of animal rights terrorism, including the University of Texas at El Paso’s resident terrorist apologist, Steven Best.

Moore writes of his acts of wanting to move beyond his acts of animal rights-inspired graffiti,

I was at a place right before I read the first issue where I was going to step up my anti-speciesist graffiti by throwing red model paint at fast food restaurants and stores that sell furs and/or lots of leather. It hardens to a dark red gloss that looks a lot like blood and is very difficult to remove. I’d also affix a statement explaining the action, perhaps stuck in the paint so it would be difficult to remove. Time was, I would not engage in any action that caused fiscal damage. Over time, I began writing on and stickering over advertisements on phone booths, advertising walls (disgusting marketing development in New York), subway posters and the like. After a while, throwing red paint started looking like a good next step.

I thought I had everything well thought out but now my thinking is even more developed, though I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to stop with the fiscal damage or step it up even further, perhaps join the ALF. (Shhh, it’s secret.)

Moore then goes on to describe the two basic competing ideas he ran through — how would any such action benefit animals and how would the intended audience perceive it. You’ll note that in his analysis he doesn’t waste a single word on the rights of his proposed victims. They simple don’t count,

The issues as I see them are this: I have to keep two things in mind, the benefit to the animals I’m working for, and the impact on my audience — people. While theoretically, stealing farm animals and burning the farm buildings to the ground would save not only the present inhabitants but prevent them from being quickly replaced by yet more animals, this would most likely have a terrible impact on the credibility and image of the animal rights movement, and could possibly be so damaging that in the long run more animals would end up suffering while we repaired the damage. Conversely, while a purely non-violent, pacifist approach that excludes all property damage and vandalism would make for a very respected and trusted movement in the public eye, this restraint would be a form of passive violence (i.e. if a psycho rapist is threatening to harm children, you get in there and you push the fucker away, pacifism be damned).

You have to love that last sentence — by not committing an act of violence against McDonald’s or a furrier, Moore would in fact be committing a large act of violence against animals by failing to help them. Although acts of terrorism are clearly not on par with those committed by groups dedicated to killing as many people as possible, such as Al Qaeda, they do at least share with such groups ridiculous attempts at rationalizing their actions. If Moore commits an act of violence it’s not his fault or responsibility — its actually his victim’s fault for putting him in a position where if he does nothing he is guilty of a “form of passive violence.”

Moore restates this basic idea a couple paragraphs later by claiming that extreme situations require extreme methods,

On one side of the debate there are total pacifists, many of them making rash generalizations about how violent so many animal rights activists are, and on the other side there are those who use violence against property (but not against any sentient being, unless you count intimidation as violence) to varying degrees.

I have to admit that I’m feeling more in line with the latter folk. When Malcolm X used the words “by any means necessary,” he wasn’t advocating random violence, but self defense. The violence carried out against people of color, women, the poor and the homeless demands that we exercise our right to defend ourselves — or in the case of animal rights, to defend those who can not defend themselves. Extreme situations require extreme methods. In the words of Ingrid Newkirk as quoted by Steve Best, Ph.D. in Satya:

If a concentration camp or laboratory is burned, that is violence, but if it is left standing is that not more and worse violence?Â…IsnÂ’t the chicken house todayÂ’s concentration camp?Â…Will we condemn its destruction or condemn its existence? Which is the more violent wish?

So how will does all of this work in everyday situations? If I throw red paint at McDonald’s, some worker may get pissed off the next day because he has to go scrape it off, and a few people may feel guilty when it occurs to them that what they’re eating is rotting corpse, but they may then close off and get angry instead of changing their actions. But perhaps a lot of people walking by will wake up a little, be startled into thinking about something they don’t usually think about. Maybe the people eating there who feel guilty will decide not to eat there again. Maybe the workers will question what it is they’re being paid to do, and what it is they’re eating. Maybe vegans passing by will feel validated in knowing that other people feel the same way they do, and maybe they’ll be inspired to do some direct action themselves.

Fascinating. Moore has gone from saying that acts of violence may be justifiable because to stand by will allow greater acts of violence to occur, to suggesting that acts of violence may be justified if the acts are publicized and end up validating others who agree with him. This, of course, is exactly the argument that racist extremists use to justify vandalizing the homes of minorities — such vandalism both acts to intimidate the victim (and like Moore probably don’t see intimidation as being violence) as well as validates the opinions of other potential racists in the community. (And, like animal rights extremism, usually tends to produce a backlash much bigger than both).

Moore concludes his essay with a flourish,

So I believe that in some cases non-violence is needed, and in others, considered and careful use of violence against property is needed — a diversity of approaches, always keeping the benefit to non-human animals and the impact on humans in mind. It’s just occurred to me that these two considerations are essentially ahimsa: the most good and the least harm. So I knew this all along. I just had to read a lot and think a lot to get to the answer in a more roundabout way.

Which is simply a long-winded way of saying that, for Moore, the ends justify the means. What a shocker there.


Yet more vegan evolution. Ari Moore, May 7, 2004.

California State Senator Introduces Bill to Ban Foie Gras

In February, California state Sen. John Burton introduces a bill in the state senate to ban the production of foie gras within that state.

After introducing his bill, Burton told reporters that the force feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras should be outlawed,

They put a tube down their throat, down their esophagus, and shoot that food down there, whether they want it or not, cram it right down their gullet. And many places, other countries have banned it. The state of Israel has banned it. I just think it’s the right thing to do.

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights issued a press release in early February touting a coalition of animal rights groups that will be doing their part to support the bill and asking activists to contact California legislators with their support for the bill. The press release said,

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) is working with a coalition of groups including Farm Sanctuary, Viva!USA and LA Lawyers for Animals, as the sponsors of this bill.

. . .

We need your help to ensure that this bill is passed into law and this inhumane practice is ended in our state. There is only one foie gras producer in California (Sonoma Foie Gras), but they’ve already hired an attorney to work on their behalf and have recruited exclusive restaurateurs to fight for this high-priced luxury item made from diseased ducks.

The full text of the bill can be read here.


Help ban force feeding of ducks in California. Press Release, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, February 2004.

Sacre bleu! No more foie gras from California?. Spencer Swartz, Reuters, February 12, 2004.

Cattle Tether/Pig Gestation Crate Bill Withdrawn in California

In May California Assembly member Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) withdrew a bill she had introduced to ban the use of gestation crates for pigs and enclosures/tethers for cows.

The bill was supported by a number of animal rights groups, including Farm Sanctuary which successfully pushed a ban on pig gestation crates in Florida. The bill apparently did not have the seven votes it would have needed to clear the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

The bill will likely surface again and if it fails Farm Sanctuary or some other group will likely try to put it on the California ballot as an initiative. Why California? Because, as in Florida, the bill would affect almost no one in the state. As an analysis of the bill commissioned by the Assembly Agriculture Committee noted,

California has roughly 27,000 sows and gilts (or first time pregnant female pigs) being farrowed (per CDFA Resource Guide 2001), which is down from 58,000 in 1993. Nationally, the total number of sows and gilts are estimated at 5.8 million, as of April 1, 2003, per National Pork Producers’ Council. California is a net importer of pork products, producing an estimated one-half of 1% of the state’s demand. California has one large sow-gilt operation, estimated to house between 5000 to 10,000 animals, and another 350 operations with over 50 animals.

The total number of calves slaughtered in California, under federal and state inspection for 2001 totaled 105,000, down from a high of 296,000 in 1996. This is believed to be a very small percentage of the nation-wide total calves slaughtered. It is roughly estimated that California veal processors import well over 98% of their veal from out-of-state producers. There is one known full time veal producer within the state, and his production method is referred to as the European method, which complies with and would be permitted under the definitions of AB 732.

So passing the ban would largely be meaningless except animal rights activists could then portray such legislation as being adopted across the country when they start to push it in states where pig production is more significant. Not a bad strategy.

The committee’s analysis was not impressed by the science either way, though it did note the American Veterinary Medical Association’s statement that “Current scientific literature indicates that gestation stalls meet each of the aforementioned criteria [for acceptable sow housing], provided the appropriate level of stockmanship is administered.” But overall, the analysis concluded,

What science is correct? Scientific references made by the proponents and opponents have used different parts of the same or similar studies to support their positions. The age of some of the studies referenced may no longer be relevant due to the changes in the swine breeds, knowledge gained and improvements made to gestation pens used today versus those used 25 years ago. Most studies have focused on specific health issues and have made assumptions regarding other observations which have been referenced by supporter and opponents to support their conclusions. Studies must have the ability to have a consistent environment or control, and test animals in a fashion that can be evaluated for specific purposes, in order to have a valid conclusion.

Because the level of cattle and pig production in California is so small, the main effect of the bill, in fact, would likely be to shift jobs in these industries into other states,

State law cannot and will not influence the husbandry practices of other states, so sows, gilts and veal calves will likely to continued to be produced using current methods. The impact to our state farm workers will be that fewer year-round employment opportunities will exist.

The full text of the proposed bill can be read here.


Bill Analysis: AB 723. May 1, 2003.

Bill banning crates for pregnant pigs pulled. Larry Mitchell, Chico Enterprise Record, May 9, 2003.