California Farmers Voting Yes on Prop. 2

. 5 min read

California voters go to the polls tomorrow to vote on a slew of propositions, including Proposition 2.

It is cruel and inhumane to confine animals in cages so small they can’t turn around or stretch their limbs. All animals deserve humane treatment, including those raised for food. Vote YES on Prop #2 to protect animals from unacceptable abuse. Source: Yes on Prop 2

I figured everyone in the real/traditional food community in California would be voting YES on Prop 2. I was surprised to hear people saying they were planning to vote no. They said they were concerned about hurting small farmers, and they wanted less regulation in farming.

That made sense to me, but at the same time I kept seeing all the farmers at my local farmer’s market wearing YES ON PROP 2 t-shirts and stickers.

I decided to ask small farmers what they think.

I interviewed two small sustainable California farmers on the issue of Prop. 2.: Rebecca Thistlethwaite of TLC Ranch and Kathy Lindner of Lindner Bison.

JimRebecca

Rebecca Thistlethwaite and her husband Jim Dunlop run the run the TLC (Tastes Like Chicken) Ranch in Las Lomas, California. Rebecca also writes the wonderful Honest Meat blog.

TLC Ranch raises pigs, laying hens, and the occasional lamb or beef steer using all organic practices. We rotate our animals around 20 acres of certified organic pasture, feed certified organic grains and several tons of organic vegetables each week, and do not kill predators (we use guard dogs instead). Our animals are cared for humanely and the land is treated as a valuable resource. We use the rotation of our animals to rebuild the fertility of the soil, control invasive weeds, and heal the land. Source: Local Harvest

Cheeseslave: Are you voting YES or NO on Prop 2?

Rebecca Thistlethwaite: Both of us at TLC Ranch are voting YES on Prop 2.

Cheeseslave: Why? Please share why you are voting the way you are.

Rebecca Thistlethwaite: These practices are the worst of the worst in factory farming. In the name of cheap, unhealthy food they treat animals not like living creatures but like expendable ‘units’ of production. They factor in death losses of up to 50% as “just part of doing business”. No animal should have to suffer this extreme cruelty and no human should be relegated to eating this poor quality food.

Cheeseslave: If Prop 2 passes, do you think it will hurt small farmers (like yourself)?

Rebecca Thistlethwaite:Prop 2 will only help us. The farmers this could hurt are big corporations, not small farmers.

Cheeseslave: What do you think about the argument that we should have less regulation in farming (this is an argument for NO on Prop 2)?

Rebecca Thistlethwaite: California is the most regulated agriculture in the world, but it should be. We have one of the most populous states, grow the most pesticide & water intensive crops, and everything we do ends up in the ocean. Yet despite all these regulations, we continue to have the worst water quality and the worst air quality, mostly due to agriculture.

kenandkathy
Lindner Bison is committed to improve the quality of life and educate others about sustainable agriculture and family farming through respectful production of grassfed and grass-finished bison.
Lindner Bison uses and strives to improve ethical food production methods
which embrace:
  • humane animal husbandry
  • sustainable agriculture
  • earth-friendly practices
  • superior flavor & nutrition
  • freedom from added hormones, antibiotics and animal byproducts
Source: Lindner Bison
Kathy Lindner of Lindner Bison

Cheeseslave: Are you voting YES or NO on Prop 2?

Kathy Lindner: Yes.

Cheeseslave: Why? Please share why you are voting the way you are.

Kathy Lindner: We believe it can be better than it is.

Lindner Bison

Cheeseslave: If Prop 2 passes, do you think it will hurt small farmers (like yourself)?

Kathy Lindner: We all now live in a world where information and opinions are available quickly via the internet. Many of us feel we have adequate knowledge to make a decision for others. We don’t. The decision we make is for ourselves. We believe only that our farming systems define us as a society, as human beings.

Any time a business is asked to change its methods of doing business, it may impose a financial hardship until better ways of doing things are adapted. This proposition allows several years to implement. Clearly, this is about more than money. It should be.

We believe in the resourcefulness, the strength and the integrity of small farmers who want do the right thing and are empowered by those other small farmers who break from tradition to pioneer and lead the way. Most of us have no idea what is meant when we say ‘they are the true heroes of our time.’ Small farmers need and deserve our support.

We share the belief with others that it can be better, in the long run, for the greater good. If prop 2 passes, we believe it actually places a higher value on true small farming operations, v. large scale, commercial farming models.

Cheeseslave: What do you think about the argument that we should have less regulation in farming (this is an argument for NO on Prop 2)?

Kathy Lindner: For the most part, regulation is undesirable. Increased regulation at any level is usually the result of a perceived injustice or abuse of some kind.

Regulations are at best a guide, and at worst a weapon. Integrity in farming practices — or any other business for that matter — cannot be ‘regulated in’, any more than quality control can be ‘regulated in’. Whether we’re talking a more humane life for farm animals, the use of chemicals v. earth friendly/sustainable practices, or basic food quality — regulation is a fall back position. Any final ‘regulation’ is done by consumers.

All any of us can do is vote with our food dollar, and vote with our conscience. Big Food, and the regulators that got us to this point, are following with interest. Where are current food dollars are being spent? How was that food produced?

As for us, how well we digest a meal and the energy it gives us is directly tied to what we know about how that food was raised and harvested.

Photo credit: Lindner Bison and Tana Butler’s (author of the I Heart Small Farms blog) Flickr Photostream