12: Bigger Cages for Farm Animals

What it would do:

Place specific size requirements on the coops and cages used to contain breeding pigs, veal calves, and egg-laying hens. By the numbers, these news standards require at least:

  • 43 square feet of floor space per calf by 2020
  • 24 square feet of floor space per pig by 2022
  • 1 square foot of floor space per hen by 2020 and cage-free by 2022

It would also require all egg-laying hens be raised in specified “cage-free” conditions by 2022. California businesses would be prohibited from selling any food products that come from animals not raised in compliance with this law, even if they come from out of state.

What it would cost the government:

Not much. It might increase enforcement costs and decrease tax revenue from farms that might suffer under the new regulations.

Why it is on the ballot:

In 2008, voters passed Proposition 2, an initiative sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, which required that farm animals be allowed to stand up and turn around in their cages. After Prop. 2 passed, commercial egg growers insisted that it did not require them to go cage-free, while animal welfare advocates (including Prop. 2’s sponsor) argued otherwise. This measure, again backed by the Humane Society, would add new, more specific requirements by including square-footage specifications. A cage-free requirement will be phased in after four years.

Story Credit and Breakdown of Propositions: CalMatters.Org