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February 4, 2013

Poll Shows 90 Percent of Vermont Voters Support Bill to Protect Farm Animals

Legislation would prohibit the extreme confinement of pigs in small crates

  • A recent poll found that 90 percent of Vermont voters favor legislation that would better protect breeding pigs.   iStockphoto

A statewide survey  conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research reveals Vermont voters overwhelmingly support legislation to require that breeding pigs on factory farms have sufficient space to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Legislation to prohibit such extreme confinement of breeding pigs and veal calves in small crates will be introduced in Vermont during the 2013 session.

The poll found that 90 percent of Vermont voters favor such a law, while only 5 percent oppose it. Large majorities in all demographic groups and party affiliations support the proposed legislation, as well as large majorities both in Chittenden County and the rest of the state.

“It’s not surprising nine out of 10 voters want their lawmakers to protect farm animals from inhumane confinement,” said Joanne Bourbeau, northeastern regional director at The HSUS. “It’s wrong to confine breeding pigs in small crates where they can’t even turn around for months on end, and Vermont citizens stand together in wanting these inhumane practices prohibited in the Green Mountain State.”

Today’s industrialized factory farms use production systems that are out of step with mainstream American values. For example, in the pork industry, most breeding pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates – cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies, preventing them from even turning around. They are then placed into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization.

The survey also found that 82 percent of voters would view their lawmaker more favorably if they support legislation to prohibit gestation crates. And 73 percent of Vermont voters are more likely to switch to purchasing meat from restaurants and farmers who do not use these crates.

The poll of 625 statewide Vermont voters was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. from Jan. 17 through 19, 2013. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent. The full survey results are below:

Survey

QUESTION: Breeding pigs on farms are often kept during their pregnancies in two-foot-wide metal cages known as "gestation crates," where the pigs do not have enough room to turn around for up to four years.

Do you agree or disagree that confining breeding pigs in crates barely larger than their own body for their whole life is inhumane?

  STATE MEN WOMEN DEMS REPS INDS CHITTENDEN COUNTY REST OF STATE
AGREE 77% 72% 82% 76% 73% 79% 79% 76%
DISAGREE 14% 13% 14% 16% 19% 8% 10% 15%
NOT SURE 9% 15% 4% 8% 8% 13% 11% 9%

QUESTION: Would you support or oppose a bill that would require breeding pigs on farms to have sufficient space to be able to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully their limbs?

  STATE MEN WOMEN DEMS REPS INDS CHITTENDEN COUNTY REST OF STATE
SUPPORT 90% 86% 95% 96% 88% 87% 83% 93%
OPPOSE 5% 6% 4% 2% 6% 7% 8% 4%
UNDECIDED 5% 8% 1% 2% 6% 6% 9% 3%

QUESTION: If the legislature passed a bill allowing breeding pigs to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs, would you support or oppose Governor Peter Shumlin signing the bill into law?

  STATE MEN WOMEN DEMS REPS INDS CHITTENDEN COUNTY REST OF STATE
SUPPORT 89% 86% 91% 92% 84% 90% 86% 90%
OPPOSE 5% 5% 5% 3% 7% 6% 5% 5%
UNDECIDED 6% 9% 4% 5% 9% 4% 9% 5%

QUESTION: Would you view your state legislators more favorably or less favorably if they voted for a bill that allows breeding pigs to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs?

  STATE MEN WOMEN DEMS REPS INDS CHITTENDEN COUNTY REST OF STATE
MORE 82% 81% 84% 86% 82% 80% 80% 83%
LESS 6% 7% 4% 3% 6% 7% 7% 5%
NO EFFECT 12% 12% 12% 11% 12% 13% 13% 12%

QUESTION: How likely are you to change your buying habits and purchase meat from restaurants or farmers who allow their animals to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs, rather than confine them in crates and cages? Would you say you are very likely to do so, somewhat likely or not likely?

  STATE MEN WOMEN DEMS REPS INDS CHITTENDEN COUNTY REST OF STATE
VERY LIKELY 53% 47% 59% 61% 36% 57% 48% 55%
SW LIKELY 20% 25% 15% 17% 30% 17% 26% 19%
NOT LIKELY 12% 13% 12% 7% 22% 11% 18% 10%
ALREADY DO SO 5% 2% 7% 5% 3% 5% 3% 5%
NOT SURE 10% 13% 7% 10% 9% 10% 5% 11%


Facts:

  • Gestation crates and veal crates are so cruel, nine U.S. states and the European Union have passed legislation to outlaw these types of intensive confinement systems. 
  • Renowned meat industry animal welfare advisor, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., states that gestation crates “are a real problem” and “have to go.”
  • Since February 2012, major food retailers—including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Costco, Kroger, Safeway, Kraft (Oscar Mayer), Target, Heinz, Campbell Soup, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sonic, Baja Fresh, Kmart, Compass Group, ARAMARK, Sysco, Campbell Soup Company, SUBWAY, Wienerschnitzel, ConAgra Foods and Dunkin’ Brands—have announced that they will eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains.

Media Contact: Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1518

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