Activists with the San Diego chapter of animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere held a demonstration outside California State Senate President Toni Atkins’ office in mid-October as part of their ongoing No More Factory Farms campaign.
The group has organized similar demonstrations in front of state legislators offices throughout California in an effort to get anti-factory farming legislation introduced in 2022.
“Factory farming is polluting our air and water and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Our progressive leaders must address this destructive industry,” organizer Cam Mehta said.
Chula Vista resident Sara Abdelmoneim, who participated in last week’s event said she believes the state is in crisis.
“There are devastating effects of factory farming in meat and dairy. You have all of these animals stuffed together in very unsanitary conditions that are psychologically weakening the animals. The water crisis we have is huge— with 1.8 million dairy cows in California, that’s contributing more to our water crisis than anything else we’re doing,” Abdelmoneim said.
Ideally, she said, Direct Action Everywhere would like to see an end to all factory farming.
“Our ask on this is for legislators to enforce a moratorium on factory farm expansion. It’s going to be impossible to ask lawmakers to just shut them down— that’s a long term goal. The short term goal is to introduce a bill in 2022 to put a stop to factory farming,” Abdelmoneim said.
So far, attempted legislation has focused on redirecting demand for meat and dairy products to plant-based items.
In 2019, the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 479, which incentivized K-12 public schools to offer healthier, climate-friendly lunch options. Initially, the bill stated “the California Climate Friendly Food Program is intended to encourage public schools to provide plant-based food options and plant-based milk options to pupils in order to increase access to meals that… support California’s climate change reduction goals” and connected farming methods to greenhouse gases.
“Plant-based meals are healthier for our children and will reduce ourstate’s carbon footprint,” Nazarian said at the time, but any text that linked farming to greenhouse gas emissions such as “a plant-based milk option is associated with a lower level of greenhouse gas emissions than cow’s milk” were struck from the bill after the first reading.
However, that type of bill is exactly what Abdelmoneim and others from Direct Action who rallied outside Atkins’ office are pushing lawmakers to draft before the Feb. 22, 2022 cutoff date for new legislative bills.
“Every single legislator has been contacted and there is, sadly, complete inaction. We have no other alternative than to cross our fingers and hope the ones that are already there at a national level like Cory Booker can get into the ears of local legislators. Factory farming is an obscure problem and it is minimized without being seen for the big deal that it is,” Abdelmoneim said.
Although it might not be possible to end all factory farming, the activists would at least like to see legislation limiting factory farm expansion.
Direct Action Everywhere activists rallied outside the Foster Farms chicken slaughterhouse in Livingston, CA on Sept. 28, following a COVID outbreak at the plant that infected over 400 employees with nine associated deaths, linked in part to the close conditions of the factory. That site had recently expanded with the help of California state funding.
Meanwhile, Abdelmoneim said, the group is relying on calls to action in the community for residents to participate in efforts like Meatless Monday so the reduced demand for meat and dairy products forces change.
“If we can’t get our legislators to listen, it falls on our citizens to give the industry no alternative but to reduce,” Abdelmoneim said.