A measure to keep factory farms out of Sonoma County, California was approved for ballot — giving voters the chance to better protect cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and other farmed animals in their community come November.

This news is the direct result of advocacy from the Coalition to End Factory Farming — a coalition which Lady Freethinker is a proud member of.

If the Prohibition on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations ordinance passes in November, “large” concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — or “factory farms” — will be phased out over three years. Small and medium farms will not be impacted. The EPA’s definition of “large” depends on both the type of animals and how their animal waste is handled.

Approximately 2.9 million animals are currently being held in atrocious conditions in Sonoma County’s two dozen factory farms.

Throughout the U.S., approximately 1.7 billion animals are being raised the fastest and cheapest ways possible on factory farms each year, living in squalor in tiny, extremely overcrowded confinements — where the animals often succumb to injury, illness, or starvation. Females are being impregnated multiple times, only to have their babies ripped away almost immediately. Many animals raised for slaughter never even get to see the outdoors. They are often denied the natural social and physical behaviors that are so important to the wellbeing of these sentient beings.

Much like dogs and cats, farmed animals are intelligent, emotional, and social creatures with unique personalities. Studies have found, for example, that pigs experience empathy, goats have high social intelligence, and cows develop unique friendships, according to Science.

These incredible animals do not deserve to suffer the brutal and unnatural conditions common on farms or be violently killed at slaughterhouses.

Factory farms also significantly impact the environment by producing massive amounts of air and water pollution, and put public health at risk through enormous amounts of animal waste. California CAFOs have been linked to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases, including a recent outbreak of Avian flu — which sadly resulted in over one million birds being killed on Sonoma County farms.

Nearly 20,000 in-person signatures were needed to put the measure on the ballot. Lady Freethinker advocated for this measure by encouraging Sonoma County residents to sign the petition and by opposing factory farming. We urge voters everywhere to speak up for animal welfare issues by voting, signing petitions, sharing educational materials with friends and family, and choosing cruelty-free products that don’t harm animals.

We encourage all Sonoma County voters to take action for animals by voting to restrict large CAFOs this November.