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Daily Journal
     January 30, 2020      #44-30 KDJ
 

Dennis Marek: Maybe California should be its own

By Dennis Marek

There was once talk about California seceding from the Union and becoming its own country. After all, it is so totally different from the rest of us with its culture, its monetary comparison and even its attitudes. I remember an old joke about such a secession. It wouldn’t be so bad. California could send us wine, and we could send them straight jackets in return. Hmmm …

As I have written recently, after mentioning Jordan wine in one of my articles, we were emailed an invitation by the winery to a private tour of its facilities in the Sonoma/Napa regions. We decided to take the company up on that in September. The tour was great, and the people were wonderful.

But the wilder side of California occurred on our 70-mile trip from Napa to the San Jose Airport. We left five hours early with a planned stop on the way for one last short visit with my son and family. We entered westbound Interstate 80 and immediately came to a complete stop. After about a half hour with no movement, we took the shoulder and exited. Thank God for GPS, as we had no real idea where we were headed. We soon found equally stopped traffic and inched along as the hours flew by. We missed the last visit with the family but did make the airport in just less than four hours.

As we waited at our gate, there was a news program playing. It featured the reason for our delay. It seems a truckload of chickens exploded on I-80 and burst into flames causing the complete blockage of the highway. Then, to our surprise, the female anchor, seemingly on the edge of tears, bemoaned the fact that all the chickens had died. I thought to myself chickens don’t go for joy rides. They were on their way to a slaughterhouse to become fried chicken. It just happened a bit early. The anchor went on a bit too long about the loss of these animals, never mentioning how the truck driver was. She merely turned to other news of mass shooting, political fighting and rumblings of an unhappy North Korea.

Then, I read about a new law in California called Proposition 12 that was just passed. It seems California put on their ballot a proposition that established minimum space requirements of 24 square feet per breeding gilt or sow. Veal calf producers needed to be provided 43 square feet per animal, and egg laying chickens required 1 square foot per hen. (1square foot? That seems pretty small.) The law also will ban the sale of veal, pork and eggs produced by animals confined in areas below the minimum space required. It will be in full force in 2020.

Called the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, it was given to the voters in 2018 and passed 2-1, with central California voting heavily no, and the western coast from San Diego through San Francisco voting yes in numbers that carried the proposition. The proponents were, of course, the Humane Society, ASPCA, Animal Equality and the Sierra Club among many.

The opponents included the American Veal Association, California Pork Producers Association, the National Association of Egg Farmers, the Farm Bureau and even PETA. The newspapers were fairly evenly divided pro and con.

I was raised on a farm. I love animals. We had chickens and sheep. Some went to market for drumsticks and lamb chops. Sure, it was sad when the truck left with a lamb who had been friendly, but we were livestock raisers, and we were feeding America. While I think all animals should be treated humanely, I don’t necessarily want the government looking over my shoulder.

I remember in high school an FFA visit to a slaughterhouse in Chicago and watching the process. It was terrible and cruel in the eyes of this teenage boy, but people want to eat, and most want meat and eggs. To the farmer, the most important aspect of taking livestock to market was that the animal be healthy, not the governmental decreed size of confinement of the animal. There had to be hard work, and there had to be efficiency to make that all-important dollar. Movement of animals destined for market is something to be kept somewhat restricted. Free range means the animal will lose weight with exercise and more feed will be required to have the animal the right weight for shipping. On the other hand, no decent farmer wants his animals to suffer.

So, it will be a misdemeanor to sell animal products raised in less space than required by the law. They will be no healthier, just more expensive to the consumer. Perhaps this is just fine with the vegans and vegetarians, but to the masses of Californians who like their meat and eggs, the market will change, as will the prices. There is to be state enforcement of the law expecting to cost California up to 10 million dollars annually for compliance with the measure. Somehow this will get passed on to the general consumer.

My mother always said she didn’t want to go into the kitchen of a restaurant she enjoyed. And her dad was a restaurateur. I would think most Americans feel the same way. They do not want to know the details of the kitchen or how that pork chop got from the farm to their plate as long as it was healthy, tasty and affordable.

It seems California has a much different way of looking at the world, and animals sometimes take more time in their news than humans. Ah, well, we Midwesterners only have to visit.

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