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Top Five Things to Know About California’s Chicken Law

The deadline is looming for farmers to comply with California’s Proposition 2

As many of you know, the deadline is looming for farmers to comply with California’s Proposition 2, which mandates farmers must double the size of their chicken coops for egg-laying hens. The law was initially passed in 2008 to prohibit the confinement of farm animals — not just chickens but pigs and cattle as well. The controversy rages on as the deadline for compliance is just five months away. Cage size requirements would contain a space measuring five feet by 12 feet and housing no more than 60 chickens at a time, giving each hen one square foot.


Here are the top five things you need to know about Prop 2.

The Deadline. January 1, 2015 is the deadline under Prop 2 which is when farmers who plan to continue exporting their eggs to California must have outfitted their chicken coops to double the existing size. This new caging standard applies not only to out-of-state farmers but also to in-state farmers as well.

  1. The California Department of Food and Agriculture got in on the act last year in 2013. It essentially passed regulations preventing farmers from entering into a contract to buy or sell eggs in the state of California if those eggs came from hens confined in an enclosure that provides insufficient space for the hens, according to The Heritage Foundation.
  2. In February of this year, the Attorney General of Missouri sued the State of California saying that this law, which essentially regulates Missouri chicken egg production, violates the Constitution. Five other states jumped on board since then and also brought lawsuits against the state: Alabama, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Nebraska.
  3. This new state statute prohibits the confinement of farm animals in an environment that does not allow them to lie down, stand up, stretch their limbs or turn about freely, says BallotPedia. The cost of compliance to make cages double the size of industry regulations can cost into the tens of millions of dollars, with Missouri’s cost, for example, coming to $120 million. Farmers say this move will likely put them out of business, as they rely on much of their sales of eggs to California, one of the largest egg production states in the country. If they can’t afford to comply with Prop 2, they can’t export to California and therefore won’t benefit from those sales.
  4. States such as Idaho and Nevada are now luring California chicken farmers to consider relocating to take advantage of lower costs and friendlier regulations that aren’t nearly as aggressive as Prop 2. Those states are offering lighter regulations that won’t impose large compliance expenses on farmers; however, the cost of relocation is huge in its own right.

The economic impacts of Prop 2 won’t be felt just by farmers, but also by consumers who will likely see a price increase in the cost of a dozen eggs come January. The debate rages on, with proponents of Prop 2 singing the praises of humane treatment of hens and even going so far as to suggest farmers convert to cage free systems eventually, while detractors point to violations in the Constitution and unfair compliance costs. California’s chicken law is certainly generating a lot of emotional response from both sides. January 1, 2015 will mark the start of learning the consequences of Prop 2.


By | 2014-08-28T12:06:05+00:00 August 28th, 2014|California Prop 2, Cost of Eggs - California|0 Comments

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