California’s “Proposition 2” sets animal welfare precedent for Canada: Standing, stretching and turning around

Toronto, November 7, 2008 – At a time when forward-thinking Californians voted to provide breeding pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves with enough space to stand up, turn around and extend their limbs, Canada has no similar standards for farm animals.

Californians voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday in favour of Proposition 2 (The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act) which goes into effect in January 2015. The measure bans battery cages for laying hens, gestation crates for breeding sows and crates for veal calves. Prop 2 attracted support from a broad range of organizations, including the California Veterinary Medical Association.

In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper re-appointed Gerry Ritz as agriculture minister following the 2008 election. Mr. Ritz has no apparent interest in promoting the welfare of farm animals.

His department’s new five-year, $1.3 billion agriculture policy, Growing Forward Framework Agreement, includes no reference to animal welfare. The policy can be found at this link.

Mr. Ritz has made no changes to Canada’s outdated animal transportation regulations. Under Canada’s Health of Animals Act, cattle, sheep and goats may be transported 52 hours without water, food or rest. For poultry, horses and pigs it is 36 hours without water, food or rest. The maximum time for all species is 28 hours in the U.S.

“The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals has repeatedly requested meetings with Mr. Ritz to discuss farm animal welfare, including animal transportation. On each occasion we were told he is too busy. Meanwhile, producer groups have the Minister’s ear,” said Stephanie Brown.

U.S. citizens are using voter ballots such as Proposition 2 to improve conditions for farm animals. California is the fifth state to ban sow crates. Americans are not the only ones moving on farm animal issues. The European Union has banned battery cages and sow crates, effective 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Canada has no laws to govern the treatment of animals on farms, only voluntary codes of practice which condone confinement where animals cannot stretch a wing or turn around.

Why does Mr. Ritz have no interest in improving farm animal welfare in Canada? To ask him how he is planning to improve conditions for farm animals in Canada, call 613.995.7080 or visit

For further information: Stephanie Brown, 416.920.4984.