Californian egg producers are scratching their heads over vague new legislation outlawing cages from 2015.
Last year, 63.5% of voters passed new legislation which states that layers must have room to stand up, turn around and extend their wings. It will apply to all eggs sold in the state. It carries penalties against egg producers and employees of $1000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six months per violation
However, California’s egg producers are lobbying the state legislator for clarification of the rules and help with meeting the added cost of complying with the rules. They are highlighting that they don’t know how to comply with the vague language of the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.
Modesto egg producer Jill Benson said: “We aren’t about to invest millions without black-and-white standards that talk about stocking densities, height and width.”
She is one of the many producers seeking ways to keep their hens in cage systems while still complying with the law. They say caging systems make it easier and more cost-effective to feed hens, keep them clean and collect their eggs.
“The question is how much space chickens must have,” said Debbie Murdock, executive director of the Association of California Egg Farmers.
“California egg farmers respect the voters’ desire to give layers more space. But our farmers need clear-cut housing standards to determine how they can comply with the law and to continue to humanely produce fresh, local and affordable eggs in California.”