Ballot Initiatives in California and Colorado Could Ban Factory Farming, Close Slaughterhouses



Voters in Denver, CO; Sonoma County, CA; and Berkeley, CA would be able to ban factory farming, fur farming, and close slaughterhouses in their towns this coming election.

Two cities and one county are putting animals on the ballot this coming election season, potentially ending factory farms and fur farming, and closing slaughterhouses in their areas.

Denver, CO, which announced its ballot initiatives in 2023, is giving voters the opportunity to prohibit selling and manufacturing new fur in an effort to end the continued factory farming and trapping of fur-bearing animals for fashion. If passed, this initiative will take effect in 2025 and follows Boulder, CO, which passed a similar measure in 2021.

Another initiative would ban slaughterhouses in Denver starting in 2026, effectively pushing the industrial slaughterhouse of Superior Farms, Inc., which kills 500,000 sheep annually, out of the city. This measure would also help slaughterhouse workers, who are often stuck in the same cycle of abuse and exploitation as animals, by ensuring they receive workforce training and employment assistance provided by the city.

New York State has had similar legislation prohibiting the opening of new slaughterhouses within 1,500 feet of residences throughout New York City in place since 2008. The moratorium expires at the end of this year, though our friends at Voters For Animal Rights will be working to keep this important prohibition in place.

California, which is currently proposing a ban on octopus factory farms, also has a ballot measure in Berkeley and Sonoma County that would ban factory farms within city and county limits.

Sonoma County’s ballot initiative, supported by a coalition of animal protection groups including World Animal Protection US, would ban the operation of factory farms within the 1,575 square mile county. The ordinance would prohibit any new factory farms from opening while giving current factory farms a phase-out period of three years.

While Berkeley currently does not have factory farms, this initiative is an important step to ban industrial animal agriculture and can be replicated elsewhere if passed. A horse racing track will also be shut down if the measure passes. Berkeley has already made history for farmed animals as this is the first time a ban on factory farming has been put on the ballot in the United States.

Local grassroots campaigns such as these ballot initiatives and city-wide legislation can have a ripple effect throughout the country. For example, Berkeley was one of the first cities in the United States to ban the sale of new fur. California has since implemented the fur ban statewide, which went into effect last year.

New York City banned the use of wild animals in circuses, which led to the closing of Ringling Bros. in 2017 (returning without any animal acts in 2023) and the state-wide ban of elephants in circuses just a few months later. New York City also banned the sale of foie gras in 2019 and the sale of guinea pigs in 2023, with other localities across the country, such as Pittsburgh and Boston, introducing and passing legislation of their own. California officially banned foie gras from being served in restaurants and sold at retailers in 2020 after legal battles since its passage in 2004.

This is why it’s so important to be active for animals in your communities, as each piece of legislation that passes protecting animals can inspire other cities, states, and even entire countries to implement these changes.

One of the most important ballot measures for animals that has passed in the US to date is Prop 12 in California, which prohibits the sale of animal products using extreme confinement of mother pigs, calves raised for veal, and chickens. This includes animal products imported into the state, essentially impacting the way animal agriculture works in other states as well.

World Animal Protection US was proud to support Prop 12 when it was introduced in 2018 and during its lengthy legal battle through the Supreme Court after industry resistance. (Animal agriculture receives $10.7 billion a year through subsidies from the federal government, which makes it one of the most powerful lobbies in the US. Thanks to your support, we were able to protect this ballot measure with our coalition partners.)

Factory farms, whether they hold fur-bearing animals, aquatic animals, or domesticated land animals, are the largest source of animal cruelty on the planet, and the public has had enough. In fact, a 2019 poll found that 43 percent of US voters support a ban on new factory farms.

That’s why Senator Cory Booker introduced the Farm System Reform Act (FSRA) in 2020 and re-introduced it in 2021, which would place a moratorium on building and expanding CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) throughout the country and phase out the largest ones by 2040. 

If you reside in Denver, Sonoma County, or Berkeley, please keep an eye on your inbox (sign up here!) for action alerts as the election gets closer.

Not in Denver, Sonoma County, or Berkeley? Sign up to volunteer with World Animal Protection to help animals in your community.

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