Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Governator Saves Chickens

It may not be as bad ass as going back in time to save (or destroy) the human race, but Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law today that would require all eggs imported into California to conform to Proposition 2 standards by 2015.

Prop. 2 was a voter initiative in California that became law in the 2008 election. It imposes minimum standards for livestock care, generally requiring that livestock animals are able to stand up, fully stretch out their limbs, and turn around. Proposition 2 was the first bill of its kind in the United States, and was shortly followed by a similar victory in Michigan and very recently in Ohio.
The bill that Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into law goes further than Proposition 2. Whereas Prop. 2 only required that all animals in California be able to stand up and stretch out, the new bill requires that all eggs sold in California by 2015 meet the requirements of Prop. 2 regardless of the state of origin. This is great news for everyone who likes eggs but don’t like to cause undue suffering because California is the largest state in the country and the new law will create a substantial incentive for egg producers to voluntarily comply with Prop. 2 no matter where they are located. (In fact, the economics are sort of a liberal version of the Texas revisionist textbook controversy, except I doubt that any states will require battery cages in response to California’s new law).

Additionally, egg producers are probably already considering voluntarily switching to cage free out of fear that facilities in any state might be subject to the same sort of campaign that has taken California, Michigan, and Ohio by storm. Cage-free egg developments are very important.  Any pragmatic utilitarian should be pleased that  there is a very significant difference in animal welfare measurements just from upgrading from a battery cage system (as is common now) to a cage-free system (where the egg industry is headed).

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