WASHINGTON -- A California ballot measure to give farm animals more living space is attracting out-of-state donors in serious numbers.
Opponents and supporters alike are pouring millions of dollars into the fight over Proposition 2, which basically enlarges animal cages. The fight has turned California into a national battleground.
By 2015, Proposition 2 would require that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be provided space to lie down, stand, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.
Proponents say it prevents animal cruelty; opponents say it harms farmers and consumers by raising domestic prices and exposes them to cheaper, possibly more dangerous eggs from other nations.
The Washington-based Humane Society of the United States has contributed more than $3.6 million to help pass Proposition 2 since September 2007.
Since January, the campaign has raised more than $5.7 million, California secretary of state records show.
Contributions often have been accompanied by celebrity donations, including $10,000 from "Spider-Man" actor Tobey Maguire, $5,000 from musician Jared Leto and $3,600 from former "Saturday Night Live" actress Victoria Jackson.
Contributing against the proposition most recently was the Texas-based railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which Tuesday gave $14,000. In all, anti-Proposition 2 forces raised $6.7 million through Sept. 30. More than $4.7 million, or at least two-thirds, has come from outside California -- including some of the largest contributions, such as $517,265 from Indiana-based egg producer Rose Acre Farms.
Farm bureaus from Florida to Texas have pumped in money, as have the American Farm Bureau Federation, which contributed $50,000 last week, and the Georgia-based United Egg Producers, which has contributed $185,000.
The pro-Proposition 2 forces ran their first statewide television ads starting Oct. 6, and the anti-Proposition 2 team went up with its first television ad Oct. 14.