Animal advocates have always emphasized passing legislation that will protect animals but it is not obvious that, in the farmed animal area, such a focus is worth all the effort. The US Congress has never passed a law protecting animals in factory farms (the last attempt, in 2010, secured just 40 cosponsors). Even the most progressive state legislatures — California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — have rejected basic farm animal welfare bills. And advocates have had more success by other means, for instance by securing corporate animal welfare policies that exceed the strongest state laws. But even if legislators won’t help farm animals anytime soon, they can still do great harm. State legislators in factory farming states have restricted common plant-based food labels (Missouri and North Carolina), banned undercover investigations via “ag-gag” laws (Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, and Utah), and even forced grocers to sell caged eggs (Iowa). But, In the longer term, politics might also present an opportunity for positive reforms. In three separate polls this year, 41% of US respondents said they care more about animal welfare than any other cause, 47% agreed that “animals deserve the exact same rights as people to be free from harm and exploitation,” and 47% even agreed that “I support a ban on slaughterhouses.” This may suggest broad popular support for reforms — or simply that novel survey questions elicit odd answers; 77% of US respondents told a 2012 survey that there are signs that aliens have visited Earth. It is suggested that looking at the farmed animal issue as a traditional Republican versus Democrat conflict may be the wrong approach. Instead, advocates could be better served by working with urban legislators. Legislative reform is traditionally a slow process so patience and perseverance will be essential.
Bollard, L., (2018). The 2018 Elections and Farm Animals. Farm Animal Welfare Newsletter, 10 Oct. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/farm-animal-welfare-newsletter-archive. Open Philanthropy, San Francisco, USA.