WASHINGTON – A proposition that would ban modern housing systems for egg-laying hens, veal calves and gestating sows by 2015 was approved on Election Day by California voters.

Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon have passed similar laws for swine and veal. California, however, becomes the first state to require that all egg-producing chickens be kept in more spacious enclosures or free to roam a henhouse. Most pig and veal farmers in the state had reportedly already expanded their pen sizes. 

The proposition was opposed by industry groups, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) and Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“We are disappointed that the voters of California adopted a proposition outlawing a husbandry practice deemed appropriate by decades of farmer experience, as well as by university researchers and the nation’s leading veterinarian association,” said National Pork Producers Council President Bryan Black.

AVMA CEO Ron DeHaven said that veterinarians and animal welfare scientists would need to be involved in the implementation of the measure to ensure that the changes would improve conditions for the animals.

“If we're not careful, animal health and welfare problems could be precipitated that are as significant as the concerns Proposition 2 aspires to address,” he said.

California is often seen as a bellwether for issues. The passage could lead other states to pass similar laws.


Sources: American Meat Institute, National Pork Producers Council