Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (October 2011)


Published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics. Copyright © [2011] Board of Regents, University of Nebraska.


Beginning in 2002, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) embarked upon a campaign to ban battery cages for laying hens, gestation crates for pregnant sows and veal crates for veal calves. The HSUS strategy is to gather sufficient signatures to place their animal welfare initiative on the ballot, and present an emotional campaign regarding food animal confinement including sad pictures of laying hens, pregnant sows and veal calves in tight confinement. This approach has resulted, in recent years, in voter support exceeding 60 percent.

It seemed that the HSUS could do no wrong, and that wherever they proposed a ballot initiative, it was bound to be adopted. Some observers, including yours truly, expected a California-type ballot initiative to appear on the 2012 Nebraska General Election ballot.