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February 10, 2014

California Egg Farmers and Retailers Urged to Comply with Proposition 2 as 2015 Deadline Approaches

New website, CageFreeCalifornia.com, urges conversion to cage-free egg production

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 2 in 2008, requiring that egg-laying hens and certain other farm animals have enough room to turn around and extend their limbs. The law gave producers more than six years to transition to new housing systems. With the January 2015 deadline approaching, a new website from The Humane Society of the United States urges California’s egg producers to start converting away from their battery cage operations.

San Diego County egg producer Frank Hilliker recently announced that he has initiated the conversion of his commercial egg production facilities to cage-free systems to meet the standards set by Proposition 2. The HSUS is urging other egg producers to do the same.

“California voters and legislators have made it clear that extreme confinement of laying hens is inhumane and unacceptable,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Now it’s time to put these principles into action, with producers and retailers shedding cage confinement and shifting toward cage-free eggs. Cage-free production will be fully compliant with the legal standards soon to take effect.”

In addition to Proposition 2, California lawmakers in 2010 passed AB 1437, a law that requires all shell eggs sold in the state be produced in compliance with Prop 2, also starting in January 2015.

Palo Alto-based Bon Appetit Management Co., a food service company serving more than 500 locations, announced that it is already in compliance with the law by using exclusively cage-free eggs. Maisie Ganzler from BAMCO writes in a Huffington Post article, “In the run-up to the January 2015 California deadline, every company, lobbyist, and lawmaker should get on board with cage-free compliance. Let’s give consumers what they’re asking for — and move toward a more sustainable future for all of us in the process.”

The egg industry’s own economic analysis shows that converting to a cage-free egg production system is feasible. And while California’s voters have taken a strong stance against the use of battery cages, so have national food companies such as Hellmann’s, Marriott International, Burger King, Compass Group, Aramark, and Sodexo, all of which are converting to cage-free egg use. However, many California egg producers have not yet begun converting, instead relying on litigation efforts (all unsuccessful thus far) aimed at nullifying or watering down Proposition 2. Some California producers are converting to colony cage systems, but The HSUS has never believed those systems are compliant with the standards set forth in Proposition 2.

Following Proposition 2’s success in California, several additional states have passed laws on the issue. The HSUS negotiations with agricultural leaders also resulted in Michigan passing a law to ban battery cage confinement and Ohio—the nation's second-largest egg-producing state—placing a moratorium on the construction of new cage egg-production facilities.

The HSUS continues to maintain there is no question that cage-free systems are consistent with the standards required under Proposition 2 and urges the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive legislation for the housing of laying hens. If California egg producers want to meet a lower standard than Prop 2, the U.S. Congress must pass comprehensive national legislation for the housing of laying hens.

Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org

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