This is my first own post here, I hope I do everything right - it is a topic that is very close to my heart.
In September 2022, Switzerland will vote on whether very strict regulations should apply to agricultural animal husbandry in the future, namely the standards of the Swiss organic certificate "Bio Suisse".
So far, this popular initiative has been dismissed as a niche concern with little chance of success. Now, however, a very large referendum poll has come out, which surprisingly predicts 55% approval (with 43% rejection and 2% undecided).
This result is encouraging. However, experience shows that the approval rating drops by 5-10 percentage points until the actual vote.
I believe that this is an opportunity to achieve a very high impact for animal rights at relatively low cost because:
- the constitutional amendment would be binding for a whole country (including imports), not only for individual companies
- 81 million animals are slaughtered in Switzerland every year. With the ban on factory farming, this number would be reduced just by the additional space required. In addition, there is the effect of the higher price for meat, which should also reduce the number of animals kept/slaughtered.
- the decision could potentially be an inspiration for other countries, as it would be the first decision of its kind in the world (and a referendum at that).
- The initiative committee is very committed and politically talented and is planning a large poster and online campaign, which is still underfunded. Additional funds could have a big effect on the outcome of the vote.
Caveat: I am not a trained political scientist but only a committed and long-time participant in Swiss political life. Furthermore, animal rights and this initiative are especially close to my heart and may make my assessment too optimistic.
However, my assessments in this text are in line with most political commentators I have read so far.
- Media release of the survey (in german): https://www.tamedia.ch/tl_files/content/Group/PDF%20Files/Deutsch/20220810_MIT_Tamedia_20Minuten_Abstimmungsumfrage_1.Welle_DE.pdf
- Overview article on the initiative and on factory farming in Switzerland (in English): https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-factory-farming-ban-to-be-decided-at-the-ballot-box/47778376
- Link of the initiative committee with donation possibility: https://massentierhaltung.ch/spenden/
Hi - could you share any impressions of the room for more funding here? How much money could be effectively deployed by the team working on this? Do they have fundraising targets?
Hi Bella! Thank you for your question. I'm copying an answer I just gave to another user, as it applies to your question equally.
Since the vote will take place on 25 September, we don't have much time left to spend money. Currently, additional funds would almost exclusively be used to increase visibility for our demands and our arguments, particularly through digital advertising (out of home, social media, banner ads). As a result, we estimate that we could spend approximately an additional USD 200,000 effectively, since the scale-up would be instantaneous. The additional number of eligible voters we could reach with this amount is significant, especially in a small country like Switzerland.
Do you have a back of the envelope calculation for the expected impact of e.g. a marginal USD 10,000?
Thank you for your question. I checked with our media planning team and an additional USD 10,000 could result in any of the following:
1) Reaching an additional 1.9 million gross contacts through PassengerTV (videos shown on Swiss public transport, mainly in buses). Those would be 10 second clips, shown every 8 minutes for 21 days. The screens look like this.
2) An additional week of digital presence on so-called Rail eBoards at main train stations in the five largest cities of the country. This donation would likely allow us to book slots on 8-10 screens in total. In Switzerland, train stations are usually very busy and we are guaranteed to be visible with these large-format advertisements. The screens look like this and we've already been using them since Monday.
If you need additional information, please let me know.
Thank you for your support, Martin, and for bringing our initiative to the attention of the EA community.
On September 25th, Switzerland has the unique opportunity to become the first country in the world to abolish factory farming. If you wish to support our final campaign push, you can do so here. Funds will be used for leaflets and video ads to maximize the visibility of our nationwide campaign.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Have a great weekend,
Naoki (Board member at Sentience Politics)
Hello! I have a question! Let's say you could have as much money as you wanted to spend, how much do you think you could spend effectively?
Hello! Thank you for your interest in our work. Since the vote will take place on 25 September, we don't have much time left to spend money. Currently, additional funds would almost exclusively be used to increase visibility for our demands and our arguments, particularly through digital advertising (out of home, social media, banner ads). As a result, we estimate that we could spend approximately an additional USD 200,000 effectively, since the scale-up would be instantaneous. The additional number of eligible voters we could reach with this amount is significant, especially in a small country like Switzerland.
This is an amazing opportunity! Well done to the orgs and people behind the initiative. I wonder if it would be worth reaching out to Open Phil or EA animal welfare grants for emergency funding?
Thanks for highlighting this exciting campaign, Martin.
I think it’s well worth making a donation:
Voting day is 25 September and is the culmination of 6+ years of political advocacy in Switzerland. It is a real David and Goliath story.
As you say, the results could have implications for other countries and spark future referendums.
Donated CHF 15. Thank you Martin and Siobhan for pointing this out! GOOD LUCK!!!
Thank you, Munn!
Important, potentially tractable and neglected? I've got to say this post makes a good case for supporting the referendum.
Hi, I'm Silvano Lieger, Managing Director at Sentience, the organization that launched this initiative. Sentience was actually founded in 2014 as a project of the Effective Altruism Foundation which is why, to this day, we look at our own work very critically and try to optimize the ways in which we can achieve impact according to these variables. Happy to answer any questions that might arise.
I am excited and hope this works. I want to be a slight party pooper by noting that the number of animals slaughtered in Switzerland might reduce because of this measure, but it will likely reallocate at least slightly to other countries without such strict regulation.
But I think it is still an amazing measure to ensure animals live in more humane conditions and I would love to know of any organizations I can support for this.
I very much understand your concerns. However, perhaps they are not necessary in this particular case, as the initiative also requires the same strict regulations for all imported meat. Switzerland itself exports practically no meat abroad. In the best case it could even have the opposite effect and even "export" the improved animal welfare regulations, because traders will then look for "cheaper" goods, but they still have to comply with the animal welfare regulations.
Just imagine what kind of impact such a change in the law would (will?) have in a really big economy like Germany, for example. Not that I would consider that anywhere near realistic at the moment....
Thanks for posting this again, I'm excited about this project!
Does anyone knows of a US-based charity that is supporting this initiative? This way I could get my employer giving match.
Hi there! Thanks for your interest in our project. We are currently not collaborating with any US-based charities that could facilitate this. That being said, there is the possibility for support from abroad by donating via credit card or direct wire transfer.
I'm glad you're excited about the project too! I have contacted the organizers to see if they have any collaboration with international organizations and will update this post as soon as I know more.
At least international donations are already easy with Visa/Mastercard, but of course without the "boost" from the employer....
This is so exciting!
Do they plan to only adopt the welfare parts of the standard, or also things like "don't give cows antibiotics" or "feed with organic food" (if those are even there)?
The initiative only targets aspects immediately impacting animal welfare. You can find all of the initiative's specific demands here: https://massentierhaltung.ch/initiative/forderungen/
Donated CHF 15 (https://massentierhaltung.ch/spenden/)! Hope this new rule goes through.
Thanks for your contribution, Jendayi!