California bans conventional egg production
2 passes by a huge margin
California voters passed Proposition 2 Tuesday night, essentially
banning conventional egg production in the state.
As of 10:30 p.m., Prop. 2 was winning with nearly two-thirds of
the vote. Voters in the Bay Area and Los Angeles overwhelmingly
voted for the measure, while most of the Central Valley and North
State opposed it.
Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary - one of the chief
proponents of Prop. 2 - said the victory is a landmark.
"The passage of Prop 2 in the country's largest agricultural state
marks a monumental victory for farm animals," Baur said. "Today
marks a significant change in the way we view and treat farm
animals and falls closer in line with public sentiments and values
of compassion. We look forward to seeing these confinement systems
phased out nationwide."
The egg industry expects to see the measure spread to other
states, which is one reason why egg producers from all over the
country chipped in to help fight the ballot measure.
It is unclear whether any legal challenge to Prop. 2 is imminent,
but rumblings from all corners - ranging from the egg industry to
the animal-rights movement - have been surfacing in recent months.
Egg producers will be banned from using conventional cages under
the new law. Laying hens will need to be able to stand up, stretch
their wings, dust bathe and do other things that free-range
chickens can do.
Growers will have until 2015 to comply with the rules.
Various economic analyses suggest that the industry will be deeply
transformed under Prop. 2, with those that choose to remain in
California switching to all free-range eggs, for which there is a
Many producers have said they will consider moving their
operations to other states, or even to Mexico. Prop. 2 does not
ban the sale of conventional eggs in California, it only bans
growers from raising them that way inside state lines.
California already gets about a third of its shell eggs from other
The campaign was among the rougher in the election season, fueled
by at least $15 million in combined spending. Politicians on both
sides got involved in the endorsement process: Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger urged voters to oppose Prop. 2, while both of
California's U.S. senators urged a "yes" vote.
Both sides filed lawsuits, but the Humane Society filed five, and
helped bring to light alleged price-fixing by the national egg
industry that became the basis for a raft of class-action