It will certainly be costly for farmers to give up their prime position in the California egg market, but this may be a reality.
January 1 will make a lot of farmers face a tough decision. That’s when it will become clear where the farmers stand, and ultimately, where the consumers stand. It will certainly be costly for farmers to give up their prime position in the California egg market, but this may be a reality for many who can’t afford to enlarge their egg laying hen cage operations set forth in Prop 2. With one of the largest egg markets in the nation, the Golden State imports four billion eggs and produces another five billion, according to AL.com. That’s a lot of eggs, and a big missed opportunity for farmers who can’t – or won’t – comply. The deadline will be upon us in two short months, at which time farmers have to either enlarge their coop sizes or give up selling their eggs to California. The decision to comply has not been cheap, costing many farmers millions of dollars. Some have thrown in the towel, citing the expense of this capital outlay is just too much if they want to stay in business. These farmers have resigned themselves to simply selling to other states to maintain their businesses. It seems like a defeat, but some states – such as Alabama – aren’t giving up the good fight just yet.
This hasn’t stopped Alabama from challenging the heart of Prop 2.
Let’s rewind a bit here. A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit in October put forth by six states, including Alabama, who cited the unconstitutional nature of Prop 2. Essentially, they said, one state shouldn’t be able to impose laws on any other state. Initially passed by CA voters in 2008, Prop 2 mandates that all shelled eggs sold in California must be housed in larger cages than the current standard battery cages. Even in the face of the judge’s ruling, however, Alabama won’t lay down and die. The funny thing is, Alabama doesn’t even sell its eggs to California and actually has to import them from Georgia and other states stemming from a deficit. This hasn’t stopped Alabama from challenging the heart of Prop 2. This is because those farmers feel the effects of Prop 2 go well beyond eggs, and in fact affect the humane treatment of other animals as well, such as pigs. They believe Prop 2 sets a dangerous precedent of allowing government to creep in and dictate how farmers go about their business.
Ironically, one third of the country’s produce originates in California, which is odd since that state is essentially a desert area that utilizes limited resources to grow food. The soil is dry because the state doesn’t get much rainfall per year, which leads farmers to resort to synthetic fertilizers to grow crops. These fertilizers can poison the groundwater, which is then sold to consumers. If you compare that to southeastern states, you’ll see that they get more than 50 inches of rain a year, which leads to rich soils perfect for the growing of essential crops like corn and wheat. Those opposed to Prop 2 can’t wrap their heads around the fact that the Golden State can wield its power to tell farmers in other states how to operate when they themselves are lacking in the environmentally sound practices arena. You may have a picture in your head of farmers trucking their eggs to CA for sale, which works in the movies but not in real life. What usually happens is that those farmers sell to wholesalers who then sell to California or any other state that shows a demand.
The true effects of Prop 2 will be evident starting in January. The question will be addressed: will the voters in California finally understand the effects of Prop 2 when they see the prices on their cartons of eggs skyrocket at the market? We shall see.