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Californians to vote on cage-free eggs in November


California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has announced a new cage-free egg initiative will be on the November 6 General Election ballot.

The initiative would establish new standards for confinement of certain farm animals and ban sales of certain non-complying products. The statute establishes new minimum space requirements for confining veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens, and requires egg-laying hens be raised in cage-free environment after December 31, 2021.

The initiative prohibits certain commercial sales of specified meat and egg products from animals confined in non-complying manner and defines sales violations as unfair competition. It will require the State of California to issue implementing regulations.

The Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance summary of potential fiscal impact on state and local government shows a potential decrease in state and local tax revenues from farm businesses, likely not to exceed the low millions of dollars annually. The potential state costs could range up to ten million dollars annually to enforce the measure.

In order to become eligible for the ballot, the initiative needed 365,880 valid petition signatures, which is equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2014 General Election.

An initiative can qualify via random sampling of petition signatures if the sampling projects a number of valid signatures greater than 110 percent of the required number. The initiative needed at least 402,468 projected valid signatures to qualify by random sampling, and it exceeded that threshold.

The Humane Farming Association called into question how the Humane Society of the United States gathered those signatures. In a public hearing last week, HFA said HSUS failed to answer questions about its signature-gathering campaign.

Bradley Miller, Director of the Humane Farming Association (HFA) and spokesperson for Californians Against Cruelty, Cages, and Fraud, not only provided details regarding HSUS’s signature gathering, he went on to deliver a blistering critique of the measure itself, which is often referred to as “the rotten egg initiative.”

“The Humane Society of the United States is once again deceiving voters, flip-flopping on the issue of cages, and perpetuating the suffering of egg-laying hens,” said Miller.

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