Horsefeathers. Rubbish. Twaddle.
The pork industry is financing an extensive ad campaign to defeat an initiative that would give some farm animals more room to stretch out.
Proposition 204 would make it illegal to confine a pig during pregnancy or any calf raised for veal for the majority of the day in any manner that precludes it from lying down, fully extending limbs or turning around freely. Farmers would have until 2013 to comply.
Opponents of the popular measure have started running radio and TV commercials decrying the measure as “hogwash.”
But despite the expensive ad blitz — which makes no mention of what the measure is or what it would do — those campaigning to keep the status quo have refused to let reporters see what’s at issue.
In Arizona, the only effect would be on pigs, as there is no veal industry here. And it would affect only a single company: PFFJ — it stands for “Pigs for Farmer John’’ — in Snowflake.
Capitol Media Services was not allowed to visit the facility and see the animals in the pens that would be outlawed.
Campaign consultant Ian Calkins, whose firm crafted the ads, said allowing reporters into the plant would create safety issues, as they could bring in diseases.
But Calkins’ firm, Copper State Consulting, did get company approval to send its own crew into the facility to videotape conditions there. He said the media will have to rely on that video.
The anti-204 efforts follow a statewide poll in March that showed 57 percent of those asked strongly support the initiative with 21 percent saying they are somewhat in support. Only 13 percent somewhat or strongly opposed.
Jim Klinker, chairman of the campaign and lobbyist for the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, defended the “hogwash’’ campaign.
“The message has to be kept simple,’’ he said, pointing out there are 19 measures on the November ballot.
“I don’t think we’re doing any name-calling,’’ he added, saying that scientific evidence is on the side of the pork producers.
As proof, he cited a November 2005 report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that says pigs in stalls are no more stressed than those in groups.
It goes on to say that injury rates for sows housed in gestation stalls were lower than those housed in groups.
The report does not specifically address the issue of the size of the stalls or whether animals should be allowed enough space to turn around.
Cheryl Naumann, director of the Arizona Humane Society, said pro-Proposition 204 commercials will not run for several weeks.
She declined to disclose the thrust of the campaign. But the campaign Web site has pictures of pigs and calves in pens, photos obtained from Farm Sanctuary.
The “hogwash’’ commercials appear be the first shot in what could prove to be an expensive campaign. Both sides have received out-of-state funding.
Proponents received $183,000 from the Humane Society of the United States and another $142,000 from Farm Sanctuary, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization.’’
The National Pork Producers Council is leading the financing of foes with a contribution of $240,000.
Another $202,500 was added by the Arizona Pork Council. Groups from Alabama, Iowa and California also contributed.
Text from TV, radio ads
“Hogwash? What is hogwash? Hogwash is absurdity, balderdash, baloney, bull, bunk, drivel, gibberish, hooey and horsefeathers, loony, poppycock, ridiculousness, rot, rubbish, trash, twaddle, and Proposition 204. That’s right, Proposition 204 is hogwash.”
For more information
Pro-204 Web site: www.yesforhumanefarms.org
Anti-204 Web site: www.azfarmersranchers.com