2015 is the Year Chickens Finally Get to Spread Their Wings in California
Thanks to a law taking effect January 1, farm animals in California will now get to live luxuriously. Well, not exactly. But farmers in our forward-thinking state must now give certain animals enough space to fully extend their limbs and turn around freely. Imagine that!
The law mostly targets chickens, as many (if not most) farms have been keeping chickens in cages so small that they can’t turn around. For pretty much their entire lives. Not only is that inhumane but it also produces lower quality and unhealthy eggs due to the stress and disease the chickens experience.
California voters in 2008 approved the law as Proposition 2, with 63% voting for it (though we didn’t get everything right that year). Then in 2010, the state legislature took it a step further and required that all eggs sold in California, whether raised in the state or not, must come from chickens that have sufficient space to move around. Both laws gave farmers and grocers about 6 years and 4 years, respectively, to comply, and now that time has come.
Of course, it costs money for farms to provide more room for chickens. As farms and grocery stores have begun to comply with the new regulations in anticipation of the deadline, egg prices have gone up at least 35%, or about 18-20 cents per dozen. A small price to pay for happier, healthier chickens, and safer, better quality eggs.
And yet the rest of the country is mostly not having any of this. Some out of state egg producers have opted to upgrade their facilities or reduce the number of chickens to comply with the new standard, in order to continue selling eggs in California. But most have not. Thus, most egg producers in the U.S. still keep chickens in terribly cramped cages.
But if demand for eggs remains high in California even with increased prices, this will hopefully encourage more egg producers to enter the California market, which means they will need to increase their standards. So go buy some eggs!
Featured Image: "Industrial-Chicken-Coop" by איתמר ק., ITamar K. - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Industrial-Chicken-Coop.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Industrial-Chicken-Coop.JPG