No animal advocates among Trump advisors
WASHINGTON D.C.––Every animal advocacy gain of the past eight years at the federal level stands at risk with the November 8, 2016 surprise election of Republican candidate Donald Trump as U.S. President, reinforced by Republican majorities in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
Hunting & fur
Elected without making any campaign promises on behalf of either animals or habitat, though he did mention the race horse Secretariat in his victory speech, Trump is expected to appoint to key advisory positions at least one of his two sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, both of whom are avid trophy hunters, and his daughter Ivanka Trump, whose fashion line includes fur garments.
Oil tycoon Forrest Lucas, founder of the anti-animal advocacy organization Protect the Harvest, has been identified by Politico as Trump’s likely choice to become Interior Secretary. [See “The Dog Lover,” bull riders, & Forrest Lucas.]
Factory pig farmer to become Secretary of Agriculture?
Iowa factory pig farmer Bruce Rastetter is reportedly Trump’s first choice to become Secretary of Agriculture.
Others among Trump’s campaign trail agriculture advisory panel include Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who worked from 1973 to 2011 to overturn a 1918 Iowa law prohibiting dove hunting.
With another Trump advisor, former Iowa state Representative Annette Sweeney, Branstad in 2012 won passage of the first “ag-gag” bill in the U.S., to protect agribusiness from activist and media scrutiny.
While Branstad is not currently available to accept a federal appointment, Trump is likely to hand a top position to former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, another longtime vehement opponent of animal welfare legislation.
45,000 wild horses
Of most immediate concern to animal advocates, however, may be the virtual certainty that a Trump administration will work to reopen horse slaughter in the U.S., to dispose of the 45,000 wild horses who have been removed as “surplus” from Bureau of Land Management grazing land and have not been adopted.
The BLM National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board in September 2016 recommended that the horses now in holding facilities be killed. Trump’s agricultural advisory team includes two members who have long worked toward that end: Oklahoma state senator Eddie Fields, author of a bill that overturned a 50-year-old ban on horse slaughter for human consumption, and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, who signed the Fields bill into law.
The Trump agricultural advisory team also includes Missouri state senator Brian Munzlinger, “who sponsored bills to weaken the voter-approved standards for puppy mills and deregulate canned hunts,” Humane Society Legislative Fund president Mike Markarian noted, and Texas state agriculture commissioner Sid Miller, “who called Meatless Mondays ‘treasonous,’” Markarian recalled.
Bright spots for animal advocates in the 2016 election results came from ballot measure results in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
Mass. Question 3
The Massachusetts Conditions for Farm Animals Initiative, Question 3 on the state ballot, had attracted 78% support with 91% of the vote counted, well ahead of the 66% support predicted by pollsters.
The Massachusetts Conditions for Farm animals Initiative will require that eggs sold in the state be produced by free-ranging hens, pork products come from pigs not raised in or born of a sow raised in a farrowing crate, and veal come from non-crate-confined calves.
Oklahoma Question 777
Voters also returned a victory for farmed animals in Oklahoma, where Question 777, seeking to establish a constitutional “right to farm,” was rejected by 60% of the electorate.
Had Question 777 passed, it would chiefly have protected factory farmers from prosecution for creating manure pollution of air and water, and from the passage and enforcement of anti-cruelty measures protecting farmed animals.
But Question 777 was “so broadly worded that it could have prevented future restrictions on any ‘agricultural’ practice, including puppy mills, horse slaughter, and raising gamefowl for cockfighting,” charged Humane Society of the U.S. president Wayne Pacelle.
Oregon Measure 100
Oregon Measure 100, expected to pass with as much as 85% of the vote, had actually polled “only” 70% with 74% of the ballots counted.
Measure 100, modeled on measures already in effect in California, Washington, and Hawaii, prohibits the sale of products and parts from 12 categories of endangered or at-risk species: elephant, rhinoceros, whale, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, pangolin, sea turtle, ray, and sharks, except for spiny dogfish, the most common shark species in Oregon waters.
Exempt from the Oregon ban are antiques more than 100 years old, fixed components of musical instruments such as piano keys, inherited items, donations made for scientific or educational purposes, and animal parts possessed by enrolled members of Native American tribes.
Calif. Proposition 67
In addition, California Proposition 67, seeking to affirm a statewide ban on plastic grocery bags, to reduce waste and protect wildlife from accidentally ingesting bags, appeared to be likely to pass by a margin of 51% to 49%, with 30% of the ballots counted. Pre-election polls showed Proposition 67 likely to pass with a plurality of 49% of the vote.
Colorado Amendment 71
Offsetting the ballot successes, Colorado voters approved Amendment 71, tightened the requirements for placing constitutional amendments on the state ballot, by a margin of 57% to 43% with two-thirds of the ballots counted.
Petitioners seeking to put amendments before Colorado voters now must collect signatures equal to 2% of the electorate in each of the 36 state senate districts. This transfers influence from urban to rural areas, and is believed to be likely to thwart future initiatives such as those that in recent elections banned spring bear hunting and leghold and body-gripping traps.
The margin of success for Amendment 71 was wider than the 51% to 54% predicted in pre-election polls, a result parallel to the unexpectedly high support registered for Donald Trump.
As expected, Montana voters crushed an attempt to ban leghold traps on public lands, Initiative I-177, by a 59%-41% margin.
U.S. Senate races
The Humane Society Legislative Fund, the political arm of the Humane Society of the U.S., endorsed the losing candidate not only in the presidential race but also in four out of the five races in which HSLF made a Senate pick.
The winning Senatorial candidate was Kamala Harris of California, a Democrat. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a Republican, at first appeared to have won, but lost to Democratic challenger Maggie Hassan by 1,023 votes when all were counted.
Humane Society Legislative Fund president Mike Markarian in a post-election statement also welcomed to the U.S. Senate winning candidates Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), none of whom had been listed on the HSLF endorsement web site.
Losing HSLF endorsees were Democratic candidates Patrick Murphy of Florida and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, plus Mark Kirk of Illinois, a Republican.
House of Representatives
Thirty-five of the 37 House of Representatives candidates endorsed by the Humane Society Legislative Fund either won their races, as expected, or were leading as of midnight on election night.
But 25 of the 35 apparently successful candidates for seats in the House of Representatives are Democrats, who will be a minority in both the House and Senate, and will not have a sympathetic ear in the White House either.
Humane Society Legislative Fund results in the House of Representatives:
ARIZONA: Martha McSally, R; Kyrsten Sinema, D.
CALIFORNIA: Julia Brownley, D; Jared Huffman, D.
COLORADO: Jared Polis, D.
FLORIDA: Vern Buchanan, R; Carlos Curbelo, R; Matt Gaetz, R; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R.
ILLINOIS: Cheri Bustos, D.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Ann Kuster, D.
NEW JERSEY: Josh Gottheimer, D; Frank LoBiondo, R; Christopher Smith, R.
NEW YORK: Elise Stefanik, R; Grace Meng, D; Sean Patrick Maloney, D.
OREGON: Earl Blumenauer, D (co-chair of Congressional Animal Protection Caucus); Kurt Schrader, D.
PENNSYLVANIA: Louis Barletta, R; Ryan Costello, R; Tom Marino, R.
TENNESSEE: Steve Cohen, D.
VIRGINIA: Donald Beyer, D.
CALIFORNIA: Pete Aguilar, D; Amy Bera, D; Tony Cardenas, D; Jeff Denham, R; Mark DeSaulnier, D; Ted Lieu, D; Jerry McNerney, D; Scott Peters, D; Ed Royce, R; Raul Ruiz, D
NEVADA: Ruben Khuen, D.
Trailing or defeated:
Bryan Caforio, D, California; Bob Dold, R, Illinois.