The take-home message from last week’s Animal Welfare Forum was simple. Chad Gregory of the United Egg Producers and Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) agreed to disagree.

During the two-hour discussion, farmers, veterinarians and industry professionals heard Gregory and Shapiro discuss the impact of California’s Proposition 2 ballot initiative from 2009. This was the first time both have addressed a group jointly on animal agriculture production. The event was sponsored by PennAg Industries Association and the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association.

Last year, both sides spent millions of dollars to argue their viewpoints on the ballot initiative that would essentially eliminate gestation crates for swine, battery cages for chickens and crates for veal calves.

The question voters had to answer was this: “Should farm animals have the ability to stand up, sit down, turn around, and extend their limbs without touching anything?” Both sides built coalitions before the election to make their case. For Californians, the answer was a resounding “yes,” winning 63 to 37 percent.

Shapiro noted that it was the first ballot initiative that won in every single demographic.

Gregory said the electorate did not understand what they were voting for, and Shapiro countered that the overwhelming support for the measure showed that, for the most part, it was an obvious choice.

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