California Outlaws Cages and Crowding on Factory Farms

December 31, 2018 at 2:20 pm

California’s new law could improve factory farming standards nationwide

With the passage of Proposition 12 in November, Californians may have made the lives of factory farmed animals less miserable.

The new law, called The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, bans the use of cages and requires farmers to provide a significantly larger space per animal.

The law will also eventually ban the sale of animal products in California that don’t meet the state’s new requirements, meaning it could change the way factory farms operate nationwide.

The law will be enforced in two phases:

1. By 2020, all California egg-laying hens must have at least one square foot of space, and each veal calf must have at least 43 square feet of space.

2. By 2022, female breeding pigs must have at least 24 feet of space, all chickens must be raised cage-free with at least 1 square foot of space each, and all animal products sold in California must have been raised in conditions that meet these standards, even if they come from other states.

California voters already tried to legislate more room for animals in 2008 with the passage of Proposition 2. But that law still allowed for chickens to be kept in cages as long as they were large enough.

But Prop 2 did provide a successful trial to see whether its rules for out-of-state farmers would hold up in court. Twelve states sued, but judges so far have rejected those suits, The Palm Springs Desert Sun reported.

However, the law is still threatened by a provision in the House version of the Farm Bill, as The Desert Sun explains:

Republican Congressman Steve King, whose district produces more eggs than any other in the nation, introduced a provision that says states can’t impose animal welfare standards onto products imported from other states.

King says the law would mitigate “the serious economic harm the California law is currently causing to egg producers and consumers in Iowa and elsewhere.”

There is no guarantee that King’s amendment will make it into the final draft, though. More than 30 senators have written a letter opposing it, and similar language was removed from the 2014 version of the Farm Bill.

While Proposition 12 was supported by a wide coalition of animal welfare and environmental groups including the Humane Society of the United States and the Sierra Club California, not all animal lovers thought it was a good idea.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals(PETA) opposed the proposition because it still allows birds to remain caged until 2022, and doesn’t mandate “nearly enough space” after that.

“We can’t and don’t consider it remotely humane to confine birds to a miserly 1 square foot of space—and this wouldn’t even be required until years in the future,” PETA wrote in a blog post explaining its position.

Still, this author thinks it’s a win for raising awareness about factory farming and a big step in the right direction.

It’s the “strongest animal welfare law for farmed animals in history,” according to Mercy for Animals.