Other states say this mandate violates the Constitution
Simply dubbed the “egg law” in California, Proposition 2, which goes into effect at the beginning of 2015, will mandate that eggs can only be sold if they are hatched by chickens that live in certain cage sizes. These size requirements are larger than what’s typically followed in the industry – basically a space that measures five feet by 12 feet housing no more than 60 chickens at once. This would translate to about one chicken for every square foot when the cage is at capacity.
This law in place in California is getting a lot of flack from other states, which say this mandate violates the Constitution, and will in effect unnecessarily drive up the cost of eggs and cost them much more to ship in their eggs than ever before. They fear this price increase will turn off consumers who will buy fewer eggs from them and bring down their profits. They also fear these laws will have a domino effect, affecting the raising of pigs for bacon, the growing of corn, and so on until everything is held tight under strict regulations. That’s where they feel the violation of the U.S. Constitution comes in.
Those in favor of the law say it’s high time chickens were treated with some respect, citing that it’s inhumane to stuff so many chickens into one confined space. To put it into perspective, that’s like five humans spending their lives in a bathtub. Proponents of this law claim that laying hens slowly go insane over their life times, developing muscle atrophy, bone deterioration and foot lacerations.
First off, a little background on Prop 2. Voters in California passed Proposition 2 back in 2008 which prompted a law for chicken cages to double in size so that the chickens could freely stand up, stretch their legs and comfortably lie down if they wanted. The law came with a stipulation of fines and/or 180 days in jail for failure to comply. This forced area states to make a tough decision: spend tens of millions of dollars (or in the case of Missouri, $120 million) to convert their henhouses in compliance with the new law, or curb their egg sales to the state of California. A tough decision indeed, especially since those egg sales translate to big bucks: the Golden State represents the biggest domestic chicken-egg market in the entire country.
What will it mean to me when I hit the grocery store?
While the battle rages on, most people just want to know: what will happen to the cost of eggs in California? What will it mean to me when I hit the grocery store? According to an article appearing in the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics in 2010, the people most affected when it comes to the cost of eggs are large households and those with limited income, with the estimated welfare loss to consumers being about $106 million. This will come as a result of higher production costs on the part of hen-laying farms that have to spend millions of dollars just to comply with Prop 2. That’s not to mention the increased labor costs they will also have to shell out. Where else will they offset that additional massive cost than to consumers? Some analysts are saying consumers can expect at least a 20 percent increase in the cost of eggs at the market.