The Humane Farming Association (HFA) is forming a campaign committee after learning the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is joining the United Egg Producers on an initiative that would repeal and replace California’s current hen housing law.
HFA’s campaign committee, Californians Against Cruelty, Cages, and Fraud, is being registered with state election officials and will lead the fight against the egg industry initiative that is expected to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.
Introduced on February 16 and backed by the Association of California Egg Farmers, Bill No. 3021 proposes a phased cage-free implementation. The legislation, for both shell and liquid eggs, sets two key dates. Effective January 1, 2020, all eggs sold must be from hens with 144 square inches of usable floor space. Effective January 1, 2024, all eggs sold must be from hens with cage-free housing and usable floor space as identified in the 2017 edition of the UEP Certified Cage-Free Guidelines. The bill identified penalties not to exceed $1,000 or no more than 180 days in jail for farmers in California or other states, not adhering to these standards.
HSUS long contended that the passage of California’s Proposition 2 in 2008 guaranteed that all egg industry cages would be completely “banned” by 2015. It also contended that Prop 2 required that laying hens be provided with no less than 216 square inches of floor space per bird.
Now HSUS is backing the proposed referendum, Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act, that covers not only laying hens, but also sows, and veal calves. Regarding laying hens, the referendum proposes cage-free housing requirements similar to California Bill No. 3021 including penalties. The significant difference is an effective date of January 1, 2022, two years earlier than Bill No. 3021, for producers to comply with hen usable floor space as identified in the 2017 edition of the UEP Certified Cage-Free Guidelines.
More than 125,000 people have already signed HFA’s online petition opposing the initiative.