California Proposition 12 Affects US Cage-free Egg Industry

In 2018, California voters approved Prop 12 – The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. The proposition requires laying hens, nursing sows, and veal calves be housed in confinement systems that comply with specific standards for freedom of movement, cage-free design, and minimum floor space.

The law reaches outside of California by prohibiting any business from knowingly engaging in the sale within the state of shell eggs, liquid eggs, whole pork meat, or whole veal meat from animals house in a “cruel manner”. So farmers from other states must also comply with the standards.

There is some lack of clarity in the proposition. The USDA labels products with more than 2% meat content as meat products, rather than egg products. It’s unclear if the proposition applies to things like quiche, which contain liquid eggs but also more than 2% meat product.

The original deadline was the end of 2025. The deadline change to the end of 2021 could result in supply disruptions, price spikes, and an egg shortage. It could also have detrimental effects on the farmers in the state. Farmers who wish to remain in the business will be required to accelerate their business plans, seek construction loans, obtain permits, and spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars.

Of course, many organizations have called for a delay to protect small family farms in California.

To learn more about the Proposition, read Cage-free US egg industry: sooner rather than later.

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