The question left is: will egg producers be able to comply in time with the Prop 2 deadline in January?
The deadline for California’s so-called “egg law” – better known as Prop 2, is coming up on January 1, 2015. What’s so special about that date? That’s when egg producers will have to comply with the parameters of Prop 2 in order to be able to continue selling their eggs in the state. This law, passed by California voters in 2008, essentially mandates that farmers double the cage sizes that house their egg-laying hens. Come January, California will only permit the sale of eggs that have been laid by chickens in these more humane environments. Cage size requirements measure five feet by 12 feet and should contain no more than 60 chickens at a time during peak capacity.
The law has its pros and cons
The law has its pros and cons, and everyone seems to be taking sides. On one hand, you have those who feel the more humane treatment of egg-laying hens is called for (Prop 2 also address the humane treatment of other farm animals as well, but for our purposes, we’ll stick with the chickens). On the other hand, you have farmers who say the law is unconstitutional and will lead to extremely high compliance costs that they simply can’t afford.
The question left is: will egg producers be able to comply in time with the Prop 2 deadline in January? According to the Public News Service, California’s Humane Society says so far, many egg producers have yet to begin the transition for Prop 2 compliance. With just five months to go till the clock runs out, this doesn’t give them much time to do so. This raises concerns that more time and effort is being spent on litigation than on actual compliance. Farmers were asked six years ago, as a result of Prop 2 being voted on overwhelmingly, to start making the transition from battery cages to new housing systems. Many farmers and other egg producers are saying they’re doing one better: using cage free systems for a more sustainable future, says the Humane Society of the United States. This allows them to still be consistent with Prop 2’s standards, getting a jump on California’s urging for cage-free systems within the next couple of years.
Compliance is certainly not cheap
Compliance is certainly not cheap, as evidenced by one Modesto, CA, egg producer who spent $3.2 million on a renovation for its 150,000 hens, complete with nesting areas featuring dim lighting to perches where the hens can stretch their wings. Many California egg farmers are complying because they can’t afford not to. The Wall Street Journal says California is the fifth biggest egg production state in the country, with nearly five billion eggs a year valued at a whopping $300 million. This translates to about five percent of the country’s egg output. Other farmers are skipping the new cage rules and going straight to cage-free systems that allow their chickens to roam about.
Time will tell which farmers have complied with Prop 2 and which ones haven’t. With the deadline looming, California egg producers have limited time left for Prop 2 compliance.