In November 2021, the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco unanimously passed a resolution supporting a moratorium on further expansion of intensive animal agriculture in the state of California. Although this does not mean that such a moratorium will take place, this is the first time some Californian politicians have officially voted to support it and may inspire other cities to do the same.

The resolution adopted, sponsored by board member Mark Haney, states the following: “Resolution stating that the City and County of San Francisco supports a moratorium on the construction and expansion of animal feeding operations, factory farms, and slaughterhouses in California; and encouraging the United States legislature to support the Farm Systems Reform Act.”

The Farm System Reform Act was reintroduced in Congress by Senator Cory Booker (NJ) and Representative Ro Khanna (CA) this past July. It calls for a nationwide moratorium on animal feeding operations (AFOs) and factory farms, and it allocates $10 billion a year for debt forgiveness and a transition assistance program for factory farmers to switch to pasture-based systems or crop production. There are petitions set up to lobby politicians about it.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is the legislative body within the government of the City and County of San Francisco (which is a consolidated city-county). In its meeting on 18 November, Board members Allison Bernard, Rodney Sha, Jordan Davis, and Yer Chapski spoke in support of the resolution supporting the moratorium.

Brandon Burr, Director of Food Policy for the non-profit Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy, said: “San Francisco is setting an example to the rest of the state and country that the time is now to take action against factory farm expansion.” He added: “The animals raised for food at these concentrated animal feeding operations endure immense suffering and cruelty. And from an environmental standpoint, our planet cannot sustain perpetual expansion.”

There has been an increase of opposition to factory farming around the world, but California has been leading it in many respects for some time. In 2018, the state passed Proposition 12, which establishes minimum requirements for confining certain farm animals, and prohibits sales of meat and egg products from animals confined in a noncomplying manner. The agriculture industry, of course, did not just sit back and do nothing, so it proposed the deceptive EATS Act, which threatens to eliminate Proposition 12 and similar legislation in other states. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.