If hens realized the better conditions that Proposition 2, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, ushers in for them they would be holding celebrations. In 2008 California voters passed Proposition 2 requires egg-laying hens in California to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their wings. In 2010 California lawmakers passed AB 1437 which requires all shell eggs sold in California to comply with Proposition 2, acts as a virtual ban on egg factory cages. California voters approved Proposition 2 by 63.5 percent. At the time the ballot initiative received more votes than any other in American history.
Proposition 2 extends to other farm animals. As the law states, “a person shall not tether or confine any covered animal, on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents such animal from: lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs.” A covered animal includes “any pig during pregnancy, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen who is kept on a farm.” That means sow gestation crates, a small space pregnant pigs are confined in, are banned in California as of January 1. Veal crates, a small space calves are housed in, are also banned.
Californians support more humane treatment of farm animals
Californians support more humane treatment of farm animals. A poll by The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) found strong support for cage-free egg production. Most Californians polled (78 percent) believe it’s more humane to raise hens in cage-free environments. Most (79 percent) also think that the more than six years that California’s egg producers have had to comply with Proposition 2 is a “a reasonable amount of time,” and 58 percent would be willing to pay more for eggs from cage-free hens.
“Californians don’t want farm animals confined in cages that severely inhibit their movement and quality of life,” said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The HSUS. “With new farm animal laws soon to take effect, it is our hope that all food retailers in the state buy eggs only from farmers who use cage-free production systems. Cage-free certainly complies with Proposition 2, and it’s the right thing to do and a move broadly supported by consumers.”
Many companies are transitioning away from cruel crates, including Starbucks which recently announced an update to its animal welfare standards. The updated standards include phasing out sow gestation crates for pigs and cages for chickens. Fast foods such as Burger King and McDonald’s have committed to phasing out sow gestation crates as have the supermarkets chains Kroger’s and Safeway. Multinational food chains such as Unilever and Nestle have committed to phasing out cage-free eggs.
Image credit: Matt MacGillivray