California Initiative Seeks Cage Free Requirement for Egg Production

Patrick McGreevy reported recently at the Los Angeles Times Online that, “Nine years after California voters decided that egg-laying hens must be given more space, animal-rights activists on Tuesday filed papers for a new initiative requiring the birds to be kept cage-free.

“The initiative’s language, submitted to the state by the Humane Society of the United States, addresses the group’s concerns that 2008’s Proposition 2, which required hens to have more room in their habitats, did not achieve the right conditions for farm animals, including pigs and calves.

“An economic study commissioned last year by the egg industry for a similar ballot measure in Massachusetts estimated that switching to cage-free farming would add one or two cents to the price of each egg purchased by consumers.”

Mr. McGreevy indicated that, “The state attorney general’s office must now approve the initiative’s title and summary before supporters can begin circulating petitions. They need to collect 365,880 signatures within 180 days in order to have the measure placed on the statewide ballot in November 2018.

Egg production is a $1-billion industry in California, with some 15.5 million egg-laying hens producing nearly 5 billion eggs annually, mostly on family-owned farms.”

The L.A. Times article added that, “Public attitudes have shifted even more in favor of animal rights since Proposition 2. Citing public demand, Subway, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Walmart, Target, Costco and other businesses have said they will make a transition to eggs from cage-free hens over 10 years.

“In addition, laws banning or restricting cages in egg production have been adopted by six additional states: Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Rhode Island and Ohio.”

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