California ballot effort pushes for cage-free pork, veal, eggs

Published 8/29 in Politico by Helena Bottemiller Evich

The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of other animal welfare groups today filed ballot language in California with the goal of requiring that all pork, eggs and veal sold within the state come from cage-free sources.

The groups backing the proposal will need to gather more than 350,000 signatures for the measure to be eligible for the November 2018 ballot.

The measure would mandate that eggs produced and sold in California come from cage-free birds within a year of approval, and then require all birds live in cage-free systems by 2021. It would further require that all pork sold in the state come from farms that don't use gestation crates as of 2021. All veal sold in California would have to come from farms that don't keep calves in crates as of 2019.

"It's an important measure for all three categories of animals," said Paul Shapiro, vice president of policy for HSUS. He added that the proposal essentially builds upon California's Proposition 2, a ballot measure that required hens, pigs and calves have enough room to get up and down and extend their limbs. The measure passed in 2008 with more than 63 percent of voters in favor.

California passed a law that applied the proposition's standards to all eggs sold within the state, a move that had a ripple effect across the industry nationally because of the state's size. The laws were challenged in the courts, but have so far been upheld.

"In effect, it codifies what's happening in the marketplace," Shapiro said of the latest ballot effort, pointing to the fact that many retailers and restaurants have pledged to only source from cage-free or gestation crate-free producers.

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