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Monday, September 08, 2008

California Schemin'

I’ve written before about the factory farm fakers opposing California’s Proposition 2, and their sordid record of duping the public, harming animals, polluting the environment, and exploiting workers. Last Friday, within a single 24-hour period, these agribusiness big shots dumped another massive infusion of more than $4.5 million in cash into the political committee they formed to oppose Prop 2, nearly tripling the funds in their war chest.

350x200_battery_cage_cok The latest contributions came from 124 different corporations based in 33 states—demonstrating that factory farm executives will dig deep into their pockets just to make sure they don’t have to give animals enough space to turn around, lie down, and stretch their limbs. They want business as usual, and they don’t want to be held accountable by a public that demands and deserves better.

There was a new donation of $215,000 from Moark, bringing that company’s total investment in the anti-Prop 2 campaign to more than $500,000. This is the same company that paid to settle criminal cruelty charges for using a conveyor belt to throw live birds into a Dumpster.

But the largest contributor is now Cal-Maine Foods, which gave nearly $600,000 last Friday. The Mississippi-based company is the nation’s largest egg producer, and also one of the dirtiest. It has been cited numerous times for spilling chicken manure and chicken parts into rivers and streams, including an Ohio incident that killed 49,000 fish in the Stillwater River.

The new donations also included $100,000 from Minnesota-based Michael Foods, whose cruel conditions were exposed in 2006 by an undercover investigation by The Humane Society of the United States. The shocking video footage taken at the company's Nebraska egg factory showed live hens confined in cages with dead birds; hens caught in cage wires, unable to escape; sick and injured hens; and birds dying from dehydration and starvation, just inches away from food and water—it led to major retailers such as Ben & Jerry’s dumping the company as an egg supplier.

Not to be outdone in the race to the bottom, Texas-based Pilgrim’s Pride donated $25,000. Workers at this company’s West Virginia plant in 2004 were secretly videotaped stomping, kicking, and tossing birds against the wall.

And the opponents got $15,000 from Minnesota-based Golden Oval Eggs. The company might have had more money at its disposal, if it had not been ordered in July by the state of Iowa to pay $200,000 in fines for environmental pollution coming from its egg factory—a single facility with 5.7 million birds dumping waste into Pike Run Creek, a tributary of the Winnebago River.

540x360_layers_cage_rb04052628_cokThe list goes on and on. It’s never been more clear that the campaign against Prop 2 is bankrolled by the worst of the worst—the biggest national players in an industry that thinks it doesn't have to play by the rules. In fact, these latest donations pumped into their war chest might not have even been reported publicly had it not been for a complaint filed with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission just two days earlier. It appears that opponents were holding back millions of dollars in unreported contributions, and intended to launder those donations through the United Egg Producers in violation of campaign finance laws. After we filed our petition they hurriedly reported the donations, thus confirming that they failed miserably to report these major gifts within 24 hours, which could net them millions of dollars in fines.

Agribusiness giants from the Midwest, the South, and across the country have declared California to be ground zero, and they are throwing every resource they have at this state election. We don’t have the wealth of massive corporations reaping record profits, but we do have the power of people who want to see a better day for animals, for the environment, for food safety, and for farm workers. They’ve got big money from Big Agribusiness, but we’ve got thousands of people just like you who have already thrown their support behind the YES! on Prop 2 campaign.

Help us fight back against the industry giants whose equipment and practices are inherently inhumane, and show the agribusiness big shots they can’t buy an election. Please make a donation today, and help us get our positive message out across the state, urging millions of Californians to vote YES! on Prop 2.


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