Hastings Women’s Law Journal


Neil Thapar


Current federal regulation of livestock welfare is inadequate to address the increasing abuses inflicted upon animals in agriculture today. In order to fill this enforcement gap, citizens and organizations have turned to the state ballot initiative. In 2008, Californians passed Proposition 2, banning intensive confinement practices for livestock. Other states have passed similar measures. In a preemptive response to this growing movement for stricter livestock welfare standards, the agricultural lobby in Ohio passed Issue 2 in 2009, creating a constitutionally-mandated board with authority over livestock welfare. This Note analyzes each of these ballot initiatives in the context of promoting animal welfare, without judging the value of the ballot initiative itself. This Note argues that simple legislation by initiative, rather than the initiated constitutional amendment, provides fairer, more sustainable protection to animals in agriculture. While administrative regulation may provide uniform regulation of livestock welfare, agencies are susceptible to outside influence and may not represent all interests adequately, particularly those dedicated to promoting animal welfare above all else. Legislation by initiative reflects the true purpose of the ballot initiative and creates clear, enforceable standards of care.