Farmer Says State Shouldn't Force Him to Raise Chickens in Comfort

Categories: Animals
A SoCal farmer is suing the state over a new law that threatens to throw egg farmers in jail if they are busted caging hens in cruel ways, such as preventing the chickens from lying down, standing up, or moving around.

According to a lawsuit filed in Sacramento last week, William Cramer, an egg farmer in Riverside County, claims the law, which goes into effect in 2015, could potentially shut down California  farms, force egg producers out of state, and cause price increases and egg shortages.

Currently, California is the fifth-largest egg producer in the nation, producing 5 billion eggs a year, and supplying roughly 6 percent of the nation's eggs. It provides jobs for nearly 4,000 people, according to the claim.

But that could soon change since California voters approved Proposition 2, also called The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, in November 2008. It prohibits the confinement of certain farm animals in a way that doesn't allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, or fully extend their limbs. Farmer could face up to 180 days in jail for violating this.

According to Cramer:
Because of the vagueness of Prop 2, California egg farmers lack sufficient notice of how to avoid violating the statute," the complaint states. "Fearing arbitrary prosecutions and the potential for imprisonment, farmers will shut down their egg farms in California before January 1, 2015. Some farmers will exit the egg business altogether while others will move out of state. The uncertainty caused by Prop 2 is already shrinking the investment in new facilities and new egg farms in California. As flocks of egg-laying hens mature, egg farms in California will close. The fair market value of egg farms has been reduced.
He added that more than 90 percent of the eggs produced in the U.S. comes from hens housed in modern cages, and converting to free-range would be too costly.

"As a result, cage-free eggs are more expensive than eggs produced on farms with modern cage systems," Cramer stated in the claim.

Hat Tip: Court House News

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