February 4, 2014
California Egg Farmer Converts to Cage-Free Facility in Preparation for Proposition 2 Deadline
As 2015 deadline approaches, new website, CageFreeCalifornia.com, urges other producers to follow.
To meet the January 2015 deadline, San Diego County egg producer Frank Hilliker has initiated the conversion of his commercial egg production facilities to meet the standards set by California’s Proposition 2. In 2008, the state ballot initiative enjoyed overwhelming support from California voters in favor of standards requiring that egg-laying hens and certain other farm animals have enough room to turn around and extend their limbs.
However, Hilliker’s initiative to convert to a cage-free system and meet Proposition 2’s standards appears to be in the minority as most Golden State egg producers have done little or nothing in the past five years to start converting away from their battery cage operations.
A new website, CageFreeCalifornia.com, from The Humane Society of the United States urges California’s remaining egg producers to stop stalling on the conversion process.
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 today 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 consumers have taken a strong stance against the use of battery cages, so have national food companies such as Hellmann’s, Marriott International, Compass Group, Aramark, Sodexo, Burger King and California’s Au Bon Pain restaurant chain, all of which are converting to cage-free egg use. However, most California egg producers have not yet begun converting, instead relying on repeatedly unsuccessful litigation efforts aimed at nullifying or watering down Prop 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.
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