Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Time for animal-rights legislation?

July 28, 2008
California voters are being asked this fall to vote on an initiative that would do away with tiny cages for egg-laying hens and other staples of corporate agriculture.

The rights bill for farm animals is the most sweeping in the nation after other states passed more limited measures.

Big farms use cages along with metal gestation crates for pregnant sows and veal crates for calves for a reason: Theyâ??re more profitable than less-restrictive environments.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has said agribusiness is a key pillar in his efforts to rebuild Indianaâ??s economy â?? not just the farms themselves but also investment in processing, research and other work that revolves around the farms.

Whether producing steel, meat or just about anything else, one of Indianaâ??s advantages is low costs. Electricity and land are cheap, for example.

If Indiana adopted more animal-rights legislation, the stateâ??s cost advantage would erode. Yet, the animals would live at least marginally happier lives.

As a consumer, are you willing to pay more for food raised under more humane conditions? And if you live in the state, are you willing to exchange a weaker economy for greater farm regulation?
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