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USDA sued over farm animal rights ballot measure

August 15, 2008 | 11:27 am

Eggs

Backers of a farm animal rights measure on California's November ballot have sued agriculture officials, saying they illegally approved $3 million in spending by an egg board to defeat the measure.

The federal lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Californians for Humane Farms, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the $3 million in spending by the federally supervised American Egg Board, an egg producers' trade group, despite a law prohibiting the board from using funds to influence government policy.

The measure, Proposition 2 on the Nov. 4 ballot, takes aim at so-called "factory farms" and would be the most comprehensive farm animal rights law in the country, its supporters say. The law would ban cramped metal cages for egg-laying hens, metal gestation crates for pregnant sows and veal crates for lambs — industry standards that confine animals so that they can barely move.

But a recent UC Davis study said that if the measure passes, the state's $330-million egg industry will be so heavily restricted it would face "almost complete annihilation."

-- Tony Barboza

Photo: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times

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