July in animal news: Five questions with Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder Gene Baur
Prominent members of the animal-protection community are sharing their insights into the latest animal-related news and what their organizations are up to. Here, Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder Gene Baur offers his take on the summer's most important animal updates and what you can do to help this month. Baur's responses represent his own views and not necessarily ours.
Gene Baur: The most important development in July was the passage of AB 1437 in California. This legislation will make it illegal to sell eggs in California from hens who are packed in battery cages. California is the most populous state, with the largest number of consumers, so this law will have a wide-ranging impact beyond the state’s borders.
Unleashed: What were Farm Sanctuary's biggest projects in July?
Baur: Farm Sanctuary supported AB 1437 and urged Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign it. We also hosted many visitors at our sanctuaries in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif., including at our July 4 Pignics, which attracted hundreds of guests who had an opportunity to connect with farm animals and enjoy vegan food.
Unleashed: What will Farm Sanctuary be working on in August?
Baur: August starts off with our sold-out Hoe Down conference in Watkins Glen, and we'll also be hosting visitors throughout the month at our New York and California sanctuaries. In Washington, D.C., we'll reach out to other organizations and policymakers to urge that the Farm Bill (which is now being crafted, although it won't be finalized until 2012) not support factory farming and instead promote sustainable, plant-based agriculture.
Unleashed: How can interested animal lovers help in August?
Baur: As always, the best thing people can do to help animals is to not eat them. On the legislative front, it would be helpful for citizens to contact their federal representatives in Washington, D.C., to urge them to co-sponsor the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (HR 4733).
Unleashed: What animal has had the biggest impact on your own life? Why?
Baur: The animal who has probably had the biggest impact on my life is Tiger, a cat who I came to love when I was around 10 years old. He showed me that animals have emotions and are very much like us, and he helped set me on the path I'm on today.
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."
Photo: Farm Sanctuary