Dear Mr. President,
Today children around the country are looking for dyed eggs and discovering what the Easter Bunny brought them. According to the AEB, 75 billion eggs are produced in our country each year. Much of these come from huge factory farms, where chickens are given no room to move, no access to fresh air or sunlight, and are often mutilated to facilitate such living conditions. Mr. President, I know there are very few, if any, votes to be had in issues of animal rights. Supporters of animal rights have been railing against the practices of the agricultural industry for decades; and not without good reason. Birds, especially, are not protected by the same humane slaughter statutes that affect Cows and other livestock.
Certainly consumers are empowered to make better choices when it comes to buying animal products; we can often choose to pay more for products that involve less suffering in the production process. Often times, however, we are not given the choice unless we seek it out. 2008's Proposition 2 in California demonstrates that there is considerable political will to change the system entirely; that people want their food to come from animals that aren't mistreated and harmed. The problem with Prop 2 is that, as a state law, it may have more of an effect on where egg production takes place, rather than how. Were similar legislation to be enacted at the national level, moving production out of state wouldn't be an option; American companies would have to adopt humane practices.
I don't know how important it is to you, or to other Americans, for that matter, that the suffering of animals be avoided or minimized, even if the consequences of doing so are inconvenience and higher cost. This can only be done by effectively altering the entire system. We have the power to abuse and mistreat animals all we want; they have little legal protection and no political recourse to address their situation. We can relentlessly pursue lower prices and more efficient systems at the expense of these living creatures that supply our food. We can impose upon them darkness, disease, and disfigurement. However, I think people know better. I think people recognize that there is a link between the health of the animals and the health of those that consume the food they provide or become. I think people recognize that the dignity we accord these weak and unprotected creatures reflects upon our own humanity. I think that small farms will always be important enough to Americans to be worth protecting, as well.
Enacting federal protection for farm animals is an essential step toward ensuring that our agricultural practices are in line with our values and best interests. I hope that your administration will work to ensure that this happens.