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California egg farmers take issue with hen caging requirements

Half a year after being pummeled at the polls, California egg farmers are squawking anew over what they call confusing directives in a measure passed in November that animal protection advocates say requires that chickens live cage-free.

The Assn. of California Egg Farmers contends that Proposition 2 embraced the “broad principle” of giving egg-laying hens more space but failed to spell out how much.

Debra J. Murdock, the group’s executive director, said in a letter sent Thursday to Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) that they would oppose his egg-production bill unless it is modified to include specifics on hen housing.

Murdock said her group supports the spirit of Huffman’s bill, which would require that all eggs imported to California be produced in humane conditions. But first, she said, California farmers need to know how much space to provide to comply with Proposition 2.

The initiative, championed by the Humane Society of the United States, gave farmers until 2015 to provide hens with enough space to stand up, fully extend their wings and turn around.

Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society president and CEO, said that backers and foes alike agreed before the vote that Proposition 2 essentially called for cage-free housing for hens. In a ballot guide, opponents called Proposition 2 “so extreme” that it would force hens outdoors for most of the day.

Pacelle said attempts to set new caging requirements would amount to the Legislature attempting to rewrite a citizen initiative, which is prohibited by law. The Humane Society has long argued that a switch to cage-free production would result in a cost increase for farmers of a penny per egg.

-- Eric Bailey

Comments () | Archives (18)

I'm glad the egg farmers are defending their right to stay in business. Otherwise, Californians will just buy imported eggs because they are cheaper. Prop 2 should have required all eggs sold in California to be from cage free hens rather than effectively put California egg farmers out of business. I don't buy the 1 cent an egg cost increase given all the new infrastructure that would have to be put in, yet alone all of the existing infrastructure that has to be scrapped at no salvage cost.

Pacelle saying that the cost increase would be a "penny per egg" for farmers complying with Prop 2 is just another example of how HSUS plays fast and loose with the truth. Just go to your local supermarket and compare the price of "cage-free" eggs (which I buy, btw) and those produced by conventional means. When Prop 2 goes into effect, the poor who need a good cheap, healthy source of protein will no longer be able to afford eggs.

And the fact that there are no clear guidelines was, I'm convinced, absolutely deliberate on HSUS's part. No farmer will be able to be sure that she is complying with Prop 2 and HSUS will use that confusion to make raids and prosecute people who thought they were doing everything necessary to comply with the law.

Some years back, HSUS was taken over by Pacelle and a group of "animal rights" fanatics who have made no secret of their intention to eventually end animal agriculture. Most radical vegans are people who think that taking eggs from chickens is animal exploitation which anyone with any experience with chickens knows is a laughable contention.

HSUS operates NO animal shelters yet manages to con the unsuspecting public out of an estimated $130,000,000.00 per year in donations which HSUS uses for "animal rights" legislation instead of caring for all those sad-faced dogs and cats in the HSUS ads. Check out what Pacelle and others really think in this list of verified quotes: www.naiaonline.org/articles/archives/animalrightsquote.htm
And here's just one of many exposes of the HSUS agenda: www.ncraoa.com/articles/AR/HSUS_ItsNotAboutAnimalShelters-Oliver.pdf Google and you can find a lot more.

How can the egg industry say during the campaign that Prop 2 would ban cages, and now that they lost, say the law doesn't ban cages? Prop 2 passed. The egg industry should stop fighting it and convert to cage-free.

Perhaps California’s egg producers should just leave the state and egg producers from all other states should refuse to sell to California. If eggs were unavailable perhaps Californians would realize what they really voted for, H$U$’s agenda of removing animal products from our diets. Whilst it is giving them what they want on one product I think it would prevent it from happening again.

California citizens, by passing Prop 2, made clear that they don’t want to consume eggs from hens kept so confined that they are not able to even spread their wings or stand up. AB 1437 would simply ensure that all eggs consumed in California come from facilities that comply with the extremely modest requirement that egg-laying hens be able to engage in these fundamental natural behaviors.

Obviously the backers of prop 2 have never lived on a farm and have no idea what is required to get the eggs. To have as they call it range eggs would require people to walk through fields looking for eggs. I agree with the other comment. California egg producers should leave this state and sell to people who are not bleeding hearts. Californians should have to pay 3 times as much for food and gas as the state is ran by special interest groups whom most live in high rise apartments in the inner city. I vote Californian's should pay 10.00 a gallon for gas and 5 dollars a dozen for eggs. They want it,give it to them.

The egg industry's own California economist stated that it costs less than a penny per egg to switch from battery cage confinement to cage-free. Consumers may see an added cost because egg farmers know they can charge more for higher-welfare production methods and people are willing to pay the added price.

The egg industry claimed throughout the entire Prop 2 campaign that the initiative would ban battery cages. Now that the voters passed Prop 2 with more votes than any citizen initiatve in California's history, the egg industry is going back on its campaign rhetoric to make the outlandish claim that battery cages are legal under the new legislation.

How can anyone take their claims seriously? More than 63.5% of the vote certainly didn't.

I do not mind paying up to $5 a dozen for eggs that came from cage-free hens. I will pass up the $2 a dozen eggs and feel that I've lived up to my personal code of ethics.

What is wrong with hens being "forced outside" most of the day? That's where a hen should be!

Calling all egg farmers,

Please move to a different state and STOP selling eggs to Californians.
These people clearly do NOT appreciate their food and bit the hands that feed them. Seems to me to be perfectly reasonable to no longer feed them.

Hey all you bleeding heart chicken freaks. Remember what you voted for when you look into the eyes of that little three year old girl whose mother can't afford to buy a dozen eggs because you voted to house the chickens in a method that actually introduces MORE pathogens into our food system.

What does Wayne Pacelle care how much eggs cost..He does not eat eggs...chickens.. doesn;t eat those eihter.. why should you care?? because Farm Sanctuary and the HSUS don't want YOU to eat eggs or chickens either.. they want to make YOUR food choices for you..and those choces will be limited to vegan foods if they have their way.. Pacelle is a strict vegan.. and so are all of the peple who work for him.. meat and dairy products are NOT allowed at their conferences, meetings.. or even in their buildings.. chickens and eggs first.. dairy is next.. then cattle and sheep and pigs. and you can thank Dean Florez for some of this.. he is an HSUS puppet.. Pedro Nava.. the same.... a HUNGRY population is an easily CONTROLLED population..until of course the revolution.. read your history books.. the fall of Rome..stop watching California farmers burn... and throw these people out of office...the supporteers of limiting your food supply do NOT have your best interests at heart....

"Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, executive editor of Poultry Magazine and a professor of science at Mississippi State University says the modern bird, bred for fast growth and a protected environment, is ill-suited to life outdoors. Letting a chicken 'stretch it's wings, run free and feel the sun on its back,' as the animal rights movements led by HSUS, PETA, ALF and others, is simply not an option.
Today's breeds, if flushed out of a house, quickly scamper back and wait for their food and water, enjoying a pampered existence compared to the often cruel world their proginators suffered. Suggesting that they be let loose reflects an unrealisitic, Disneyesque view of life in the wild.
Cattle and hogs lead an equally pampered life, too, in serious opposition to the yellow journalism practiced by groups who would have people believe that almost all farm animals are horribly abused, over-medicated, and crammed into overstuffed quarters that would make a concentration camp manager gasp in horror.
It might come as a news flash to the animal rights movement but life in teh wild is kill or be killed. Animals are the hunter or the hunted and when they become a meal for a larger predator, death is never swift or humane. There are no large animal vets on call in the wilds of northern Montana, no medication available to rid an animal of parasites or treat it for tuberculosis or tularemia."
Today's experts predict our species will almost double by mid-century. We're now forced to figure out how to double food production on less acreage as prime farm land gives way to urban sprawl. In essence, you want farmers and ranchers to allow more room for animals that city dwellers are taking away from them. Urban sprawl and growing population are a HUGE reason animals also need to be kept in more limited space. Stopping the use of animals is not going to feed a hungry world. There is only enough tillable ground NOW to feed 1/3 of the current world population on this Utopian vegan diet being pushed. That would include using the land that the animals now occupy.
While you are so adamant that the chickens and other animals don't have enough room to suit your sensibilities, stop and think about how you are forcing more and more of them into the smaller and smaller areas as you continue to increase the size of space you feel you need for yourself. Feeding you and your families are the reason animals are bred and raised to require less room and yet still produce enough food for YOUR benefit. Go spend some time on a farm and see what it takes to feed YOU and to see for yourself whether HSUS and other AR groups know anymore about animal husbandry than those of you have never been closer to a farm than your local grocery store.

I support this measure for basic humane treatment of animals. Prop 2 simply allows farm animals enough room to turn around and extend their limbs. All animals, including those raised for food, deserve humane treatment!

Prop 2 passed by a large majority...unlike Prop 8 but that's another argument...

Cage-Free does NOT mean outdoors. And by supporting AB 1437, the playing field would be level in that ALL eggs sold in CA would have to be from birds raised humanely. So that is a win-win for CA egg producers and for egg-laying hens who are the REAL egg producers.

All animals, including those raised for food, deserve humane treatment. If egg producers are 'unsure' of how much space that means, sit down with the amazing people over at HSUS and talk about it. Because Prop 2 is NOT going away. It is LONG overdue and the only thing wrong with it is that it takes too long to be enforced. But that is to give plenty of time to switch over the methods currently used. And SIX years is plenty of time.

Animals raised for food deserve to be treated better. We humans are better than this. It's not a Vegetarian/Vegan/Animal Rights issue...it's a matter of right/wrong. And we know that cramming animals into spaces so small they cannot even turn around, lie down or extend their limbs/wings is WRONG.

Read my analysis of Proposition 2 at www.animalculture.org The law does not say that hens must be cage-free. The "amazing people" at HSUS designed the law and let's not fix or clarify it. Let's go with it.

Egg producers need only to prove that it is physically possible for a chicken to stand up, turn around, and spread its wings without touching other chickens or the walls of the cage. That will satisfy the letter of the law. Take a video of just one chicken doing this in a battery cage and that will mean that a battery cage satisfies the provisions of California Code Division 20, chapter 13.8.

I also recommend that every producer that uses battery cages advertise, truthfully, that their cages meet Proposition 2 standards. Don't fix it, use it.

Cage-free eggs are far too expensive and they are a lot dirtier than the old way. Cage-free is less humane, also.

The animal rights activists have already proven that they have absolutely no right to dictate the way that we handle animals. Proposition 2 is poorly written, maybe on purpose, maybe because they don't know what they're doing, but no animal rights activist has a right to tell the rest of us to do anything. Just one of many reasons is because they insist on conditions that are not written in the law that they got passed. I guess that when you read the law you can see how they got it passed and are they counting on citizens and egg producers to not read the law and think about what it actually says?

Also, tell everyone what I just said.

It's unfortunate egg farmers aren't clear on what they need to do in order to comply with the new bill. However, this can and should be easily remedied.

What's important here is that the overwhelming majority of California residents denounced the cruel confinement of animals. Whether strict vegetarian or staunch carnivore, we all agree that is is wrong to keep chickens in cages so small that they live their lives relegated to a space the size of a sheet of paper and are unable to even open their wings.

It's interesting that there is so much interest in protecting the cost of such an unhealthy product. Eggs are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Also, a new study of 57,000 people linked egg consumption with type 2 diabetes, and another with increased risk of heart failure. An Argentine study found that people who ate about one and a half eggs per week had almost five times the risk of colorectal cancer as those who ate less than eleven eggs a year. After analyzing data from thirty-four different countries, the World Health Organization correlated egg consumption with colon and rectal cancer mortality. Another study found that moderate egg consumption tripled the risk of developing bladder cancer.

One more thing: The "cage-free" thing must be part of the deception because the Proposition 2 rule doesn't mention cage-free.


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