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California is the Top Egg Consuming State – Will the Prop 2 Egg Law Affect the Country?

Golden State tops in the nation for egg consumption

Californians love their eggs, making the Golden State tops in the nation for egg consumption. It only has 15 million egg-laying hens, though, so it doesn’t take the top spot there, only coming in as fifth biggest egg-producing state, according to Mercury News. Only Iowa, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania have more chickens. If you’ll recall, Iowa – with 55 million egg laying hens within state borders – was one of the six states to bring a lawsuit against California for interstate commerce violations. This is because it sells on average a billion of its 14 billion eggs each year to that state. Not being able to continue this puts a big damper on Iowa’s egg industry. But it’s not alone. Five other states got in on the lawsuit last summer, only to be shot down by a federal judge in October. They have not given up the fight, however.

Other farmers have decided it’s just not worth the fight and have complied with Prop 2, making their cages nearly double in size to accommodate the increased mobility of its egg laying hens. Ranchers were given six years to comply since 2008 when CA voters passed Prop 2 overwhelmingly. Some farmers went the extra mile to incorporate cage-free egg-laying hens on their farms, since this is where the law is heading anyway. These egg ranchers are spending a lot of dough converting to cage-free operations, which feature perches and hutches where birds are allowed to roam freely and lay eggs in peace. Many consumers are more than happy to pay for the cage-free label.

Higher prices for your favorite egg sandwiches

Recently, states like Ohio, Oregon and Washington have followed California’s lead and passed similar laws to Prop 2. Restaurants like Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Au Bon Pain and Kraft Foods have also made a commitment to use only cage-free eggs in their products. What does this mean? You guessed it – higher prices for your favorite egg sandwiches.

With the price of a wholesale carton of eggs expected to rise between 10 and 40 percent, with higher prices already being seen at the markets, consumers will have to shell out more money for the eggs they were getting before at a much lower cost. They may also see higher prices at their favorite fast food chains since those companies are now only using cage free eggs – garnering notoriously higher prices.

Many farmers are opting to simply reduce their flock sizes

The cost of eggs is rising across the country, no more so than in California, which is currently experiencing a record egg shortage. This could be due in part to all the farmers no longer selling to the state, or it could be outside factors such as Mexico looking to the U.S. for its eggs in the wake of its own avian flu epidemic. Elsewhere across the country, many farmers are opting to simply reduce their flock sizes, but the higher laborer cost coupled with the reduction in output are compromising their financial position.

How Prop 2 will affect the rest of the country will continue to play out on farms and in supermarkets in the coming weeks.


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