May 31, 2008 —
In November, California voters will decide the fate of the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, a measure that is designed to make California the first state to bar the confinement of egg-laying hens and other animals to small cages. Right now the industry standard is to pack the birds in as tightly as possible, and though the new law wouldn't bar caging them completely, it would provide for significant improvements in the lives of all farm animals, similar to those already enacted by the European Union. Farmers could be required to give chickens and other animals enough space to stand, lie down, turn around completely, and spread their limbs—or wings as the case may be— without hitting the walls of an enclosure or another animal.
For the egg industry, most estimates would put the additional cost of following these provisions at about one cent per egg, and farms would have until 2015 to implement them. Agriculture lobbyists are still fighting mad about the new law though, claiming that it could drive a significant portion of the farm animal agriculture economy out of state. But with the increased cost of fuel making food transportation more and more expensive, it's unlikely that a huge number of Californians will chose buy eggs shipped in from out of state if the price is roughly the same.Read more about the legislation at humanecalifornia.org