June in animal news: Five questions with Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder Gene Baur
We're asking prominent figures in the animal-protection community to give us their insights on animal news and updates on their work in a feature called Five Questions that debuted on Unleashed last month. Here, Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder Gene Baur offers his take on the most important animal news to happen in June and what animal advocates should watch for in the coming month. Baur's answers represent his own views and not necessarily ours.
Gene Baur: In June, Ohioans for Humane Farms compiled roughly 500,000 signatures of Ohio citizens in order to place an initiative on the ballot to ban cruel factory farming practices in Ohio. In response, agribusiness came to the table and agreed to phase out veal crates and gestation crates in Ohio.
And, in Washington, D.C., the City Council enacted the Healthy Schools Act, which promotes healthier plant-based foods in schools in our nation’s capital.
Unleashed: What were Farm Sanctuary's biggest projects in June?
Baur: In June, Farm Sanctuary rallied volunteers in the state of Ohio to collect the signatures necessary to place a measure on the ballot to outlaw several cruel factory farming practices.
And visitor programs at our sanctuaries in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif., were in full swing as we conducted numerous farm tours and hosted overnight guests in our B&B cabins from across the United States.
Unleashed: What will Farm Sanctuary be working on in July?
Baur: In July, Farm Sanctuary's visitor programs will be very active. On July 4th we're holding our annual Pignics in Orland and Watkins Glen, where people are encouraged to try a veggie hot dog and give a pig a belly rub. And we'll be following up on our legal efforts in Washington, D.C., to prevent downed pigs and other animals who are too sick even to stand from being marketed and slaughtered for human food.
Unleashed: How can interested animal lovers help in July?
Baur: As always, the best thing animal lovers can do to help animals is to not eat animals or animal products. With summer picnics and cookouts, there are opportunities to educate others about the great vegan products that are available by bringing veggie dogs and veggie burgers, or other tasty vegan foods.
Unleashed: What do you think is the most common misconception about your organization?
Baur: A common misperception is that Farm Sanctuary is only a farm animal sanctuary, when direct rescue is only one part of what we do. We also campaign to enact laws and institutional reforms to prevent animal suffering on factory farms and to promote plant-based agricultural systems. And we educate people about the intolerable conditions that are common on today's industrialized farms and how consuming a vegan diet is the most effective thing a person can do to make a difference. Advocacy and education are as much a part of what we do as is rescue.
Gene Baur is the president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, an organization that advocates for the humane treatment of farm animals and operates two sanctuaries in northern California and New York. A vegan since 1985, he lives in Washington, D.C., and campaigns to raise awareness about animal welfare and food safety. Baur holds a master's degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University and is the author of Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food.