05/02/2013 06:00 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2013

Animal Cruelty at the California State Fair

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"The principle of confinement in so-called animal science is derived from the industrial version of efficiency. The designers of animal factories appear to have had in mind the example of concentration camps or prisons, the aim of which is to house and feed the greatest numbers in the smallest space at the least expense of money, labor, and attention" -- Wendell Berry; poet, novelist, recipient of the National Humanities Medal, Guggenheim Fellow, Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Given the chance on a humanely run farm, pregnant pigs ready to give birth seek out a quiet, secluded spot and there build a comfortable, safe nest for their babies.

In stark contrast, each year at the California State Fair pregnant pigs are confined for weeks on end in cages so small that they cannot physically turn around. Imprisoned in these "farrowing crates," these sows give birth on barren metal grid floors for the entertainment (well, it's certainly not for the education!) of thousands of families, all amidst the smells and sights and sounds (including explosive fireworks) of that event.

Devices which so narrowly restrict the free movement of live animals are, at best, inhumane by their very design. Further "exhibiting" live animals in such a device at a public event moves the needle from inhumane to macabre.

Between these two extremes, at last year's Alameda County Fair piglets were born off-site and then transported with their mothers and left free to wander around in spacious 10'x 20' straw-filled pens. Certainly such a standard should be, at the minimum, what we can expect at our State Fair.

If you agree, you may wish to express those feelings to the man able to make the changes at this year's State Fair -- who happens to be the same fellow responsible for the far better practice at last year's Alameda County Fair. Mr. Rick Pickering is the CEO and General Manager of the State Fair. You can reach him and his fellow Fair Board Members via email. It also wouldn't hurt to contact your elected representatives.