Tags: egg | prices | regulations | farming | California

California Law Could Hike Egg Prices 40 Percent

By    |   Monday, 29 Dec 2014 06:01 PM

Golden State residents are facing substantial egg price increases when a new chicken-welfare law takes effect on New Year's Day, the Daily Caller reports.

In 2008, California voters enacted Proposition 2, a ballot initiative requiring that egg-laying hens, pigs, and calves have enough room to lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs.

In 2010, the California legislature expanded the law's reach to ban the sale of eggs from any hens that were not raised in compliance with California's strict animal-welfare standards. Lawmakers acted in response to public concern that California farmers would be at a disadvantage when competing with out-of-state producers.

Supporters also argue that the law is necessary to prevent animal suffering and reduce the likelihood of salmonella contamination.

The improved housing for chickens is expected to result in an increase of between 10 percent and 40 percent in wholesale egg prices, according to the Los Angeles Times. Farmers protested that they would have to keep fewer chickens to furnish the birds with additional space.

"The sad reality is consumers don't really know where their food comes from," said Chad Gregory, president of the Georgia-based United Egg Producers, which represents more than 90 percent of the nation's egg farmers. "What they think farming should look like is not a realistic picture if you want to provide a good and affordable source of food to 315 million people."

Egg producers "have had six years to come into compliance with Prop. 2, and instead of using that time to convert to cage-free systems, they've simply sued and sued and lost every suit they filed while sitting on their hands," countered Paul Shapiro, vice president for farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States, a backer of the new law.

Just days before the law is scheduled to take effect, the only certainty appears to be confusion, as farmers and animal-welfare advocates engage in heated debate over what constitutes compliance.

No state agency is empowered to enforce the law or provide "details, such as specific dimensions of enclosures" necessary to comply with the law, the Sacramento Bee reported earlier this month.

Some farmers are said to be holding back on taking steps to comply because they are unsure of how much space the law requires they provide the animals. Moreover, they are worried that they will be undercut by competitors who spend less on upgrades and therefore have lower costs, according to University of California, Davis, agricultural economist Daniel Sumner.

With no state agency to enforce the law, that task will fall to local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys.

Egg producers have been "parsing the law's wording" to try to determine if they will be in compliance, the Bee reports.

It may not be easy: animal-rights advocates cannot agree on whether a more spacious enclosure —  which JS West & Companies in Merced County has spent millions of dollars switching to—  violates the new law.

Some Proposition 2 supporters say the enclosures represent an improvement, while the Humane Society contends they will violate the law.

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Golden State residents are facing substantial egg price increases when a new chicken-welfare law takes effect on New Year's Day,the Daily Caller reported. In 2008, California voters enacted Proposition 2, a ballot initiative requiring that egg-laying hens, pigs, and calves...
egg, prices, regulations, farming, California
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2014-01-29
Monday, 29 Dec 2014 06:01 PM
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