By Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

On July 6, 2010, America rejoiced because California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a “landmark egg bill,” and California will supposedly become a “cage-free state.”

But is that what the legislation really says? Has anyone actually read Proposition 2 or A.B. 1437 before rejoicing in California’s “cage-free” status? I think not. Because if they did, they would realize that this is a complete lie, perpetrated by professional disinformation specialists designed to lull us into complacency while offending CAFOs go on about their daily business, caging hens and force-feeding them GMO feed, massive amounts of antibiotics, and in essence, making their lives a little better by giving them room to stand up in their cages, while instituting more rules and regulations that do nothing but weave the control-grid web a little tighter and placate the public with sleight of hand trickery. Cage-free my….well, you get the picture. 

This “landmark egg bill” came to my attention when I browsed through Food Inc.’s Facebook page:

I clicked the link to the sourced article, and this is what I found:

July 06, 2010

Breaking: Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Landmark Egg Bill

I just got the very exciting news from California that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed A.B. 1437, a bill backed by The HSUS that requires that starting in 2015 all shell (whole) eggs sold in California must come from hens who were able to stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their limbs without touching one another or the sides of an enclosure. In other words: California will become a cage-free state.

http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2010/07/california-egg-bill.html

Here is the actual text, and LINK to A.B. 1437.

Note this section in A.B. 1437:

Existing law, enacted as Proposition 2, an initiative measure approved by the voters at the November 4, 2008, statewide general election, establishes, commencing January 1, 2015, specified farm animal treatment standards.

This bill would, commencing January 1, 2015, prohibit the sale of a shelled egg for human consumption if it is the product of an egg-laying hen that was confined on a farm or place that is not in compliance with those animal care standards and would make violations of these provisions a crime. This bill would declare that its provisions are severable. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

And this section:

25996. Commencing January 1, 2015, a shelled egg may not be sold or contracted for sale for human consumption in California if it is the product of an egg-laying hen that was confined on a farm or place that is not in compliance with animal care standards set forth in Chapter 13.8 (commencing with Section 25990).

Now let’s look at Proposition 2, specifically Section 25990:

25990. PROHIBITIONS.- In addition to other applicable provisions of law, a person shall not tether or confine any covered animal, on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents such animal from:

(a) Lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs; and

(b) Turning around freely.

And this section under definitions:

(b) “Fully extending his or her limbs” means fully extending all limbs without touching the side of an enclosure, including, in the case of egg-laying hens, fully spreading both wings without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens.


Now tell me, how does “fully extending all limbs without touching the side of an enclosure equate to “cage-free?” IT DOESN’T! Not by a long-shot. What it means is BIGGER CAGES for the majority of any day! The majority of the day is anything over 12 hours. So the hens can be rotated to a somewhat bigger cage where they can actually stand up and spread their wings for a little over 12 hours per day, then go back to smaller cages for the rest of the time.

And the penalty for non-compliance?

25993. ENFORCEMENT.- Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($ 1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed 180 days or by both such fine and imprisonment.

So, while we rejoice in a supposed victory to allow California’s hens to roam cage free, CAFOs go about their daily business, and simply make some rotational cages a bit larger, or face a misdemeanor, with a $1000 fine.

Small change for a big CAFO, while the little guys who don’t house their hens in inhumane cages will need to keep copious records to prove compliance, while enduring routine inspections from enforcers, costing more time and money; things that will not affect a CAFO significantly, but will put a big dent in profits for those who are already treating their livestock well.

© 2010 Barbara H. Peterson

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