.Sonoma County ‘Factory Farm’ Ban Moves Forward With 37K Signatures

Sonoma County animal-rights activists are inching forward with a controversial initiative that would shut down any large ag operations in our area that qualify as factory farms. It’s a “significant threat,” the Sonoma County Farm Bureau argues, “to the livelihoods of local farmers such as Clover Sonoma and Straus Family Creamery, the availability of local food sources, and the rural character of our community.” According to the North Bay Business Journal, “the initiative would phase out medium- and large-sized ‘concentrated agricultural feeding operations,’ or CAFOs, in Sonoma County. The definition of a CAFO includes animals stabled or confined for 45 days or more in any 12-month period.” It’s not a sure thing yet that we’ll be voting on this issue come November — but that is one possibility, now that the proposal has enough signatures, a whopping 37,000, to either go on the ballot or go in front of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval. Both routes would be an uphill battle for the group behind this thing: the Coalition to End Factory Farming, closely linked to an animal liberation group called Direct Action Everywhere. Coalition leaders argues that factory farms “are a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, along with a host of other detriments to people, animals and the environment,” KRCB news radio reports. However, county supervisors seemed highly skeptical of the proposal at their meeting last week. “Anticipating major economic implications and fiscal obligations should the CAFO ban pass, the supervisors asked for a comprehensive report,” KRCB reports. More from the news radio station: “Supervisor Lynda Hopkins noted a raft of concerns, ranging from how the measure could affect community programs like 4-H, to the county budget. ‘This could potentially be a multi-million dollar implementation if this were to move forward,’ Hopkins said. ‘And it would essentially be an unfunded mandate on county government with us having to stand up new programs.’ Hopkins also raised the possibility of the Board registering formal opposition to the measure. Supervisors David Rabbitt and James Gore are also strident in their concern over the effects of banning large animal ag operations. Of the measure, Gore, who previously worked in the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, said he feels, ‘this is really ideology masked in environmentalism.'” County staff will be working on that requested report for the next month, and then the issue will come back in front of supervisors. (Source: KRCB & Sonoma County Gazette & Sonoma County Farm BureauNorth Bay Business Journal)


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