An article in the New York Times this morning reported that a truce has been made between factory farmers and animal rights activists in Ohio. Much of the discussion is focused on caging methods for chickens.
According to the article:
Hoping to avoid a divisive November referendum that some farmers feared they would lose, Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio urged farm leaders to negotiate with opponents, led by the Humane Society of the United States. After secret negotiations, the sides agreed to bar new construction of egg farms that pack birds in cages, and to phase out the tight caging of pregnant sows within 15 years and of veal calves by 2017.
While the agreement does not require existing egg farms to change their caging methods – one farm packs six or seven hens in cages about the size of an open newspaper – it does provide some measure of hope for proponents of cage-free egg production.
What seemed most striking from the article, though, is that the agreement was made primarily because the Governor of Ohio leaned on farmers out of fear that a public referendum on the issue would backfire. That means that consumers are getting the attention of politicians on the issue of factory farming (at least in states like California and Ohio that have referendums).
Of course, the issue now will be whether consumers will be willing to pay for the increase in cost per egg at the grocery store that is likely to come from these kinds of state-by-state changes in the way eggs are harvested. If not, they may want to look into getting their own chicken coop.