The battle has begun: On August 13 the organization known as Yes on Prop 2 — Californians for Humane Farms filed a suit in federal district court against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Egg Board (AEB) for what they call the “unlawful expenditure of $3 million in federal funds.”
Proposition 2 is a ballot initiative in California to outlaw extreme confinement of livestock, such as gestation crates for swine or battery cages for poultry, to be voted on this November. The trouble began when the Humane Society of the United States found that the AEB approved the $3 million in checkoff funds to fight the initiative. Because it’s illegal to use checkoff funds for political purposes (they are essentially taxes collected from livestock producers to fund research, education and marketing of a particular commodity), the AEB and USDA claim that their use of the funds is to educate Californians about current farming practices. That’s not what internal documents obtained by the Humane Society indicated, however.
Read the press release from the Humane Society here, and details about the situation along with correspondence between the Humane Society and the USDA/AEB here.
I guess we’ll see what the judge has to say.