Prop 2 Timeline
Timeline of events in California
2008: California voters approve Prop 2 with 64 percent of the vote, requiring that egg-laying hens, calves, and pigs have enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs. The law gives producers more than six years to prepare for its implementation in 2015.
2009: Some egg producers begin arguing that confining birds in cages with 116 square inches of space per bird is sufficient to meet Prop 2. The Humane Society of the United States argues in the public and soon in court that this is not true.
2010: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs AB 1437 into law, requiring that by 2015, all shell (whole) eggs sold in California be produced in compliance with Prop 2.
2010: Egg producers file JS West v. State of California in Sup. Ct. of Cal. County of Fresno, seeking a declaration that its new colony cage facility meets the standards set for laying hens by Proposition 2.
2011: Court rules against JS West, finding that it had not pled sufficient facts to establish an actual or present controversy.
2012: Egg producers file Cramer v. Harris et al. in Fed. Dist. Ct. for Central District of Cal., again alleging that Prop 2 is unconstitutionally vague. The court rules against the egg producers, concluding: “Proposition 2 establishes a clear test that any law enforcement officer can apply, and that test does not require the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute.” It also notes: “The mere fact that Plaintiff dislikes or disagrees with the policy or language of Proposition 2 is not sufficient to sustain a Constitutional challenge.”
2012: Cramer appeals the dismissal of his claim that Prop. 2 is unconstitutional because it is allegedly vaguely worded.
2012: Association of California Egg Farmers files ACEF v. California et al in Sup. Ct. of CA, County of Fresno, alleging that Proposition 2 is unconstitutionally vague under the California Constitution.
2013: The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) issues an egg safety rule which allows birds to be confined at 116 square inches per bird inside a cage so long as there are nine or more birds in the cage. (The birds must have more space if there are a smaller number of them in the cage.) CDFA makes it explicitly clear that this standard is unrelated to Proposition 2, and producers must comply with both Prop 2 and CDFA’s rule, while retailers must comply with both AB 1437 and CDFA’s rule. Prop 2 doesn’t name a specific number of square inches like CDFA’s, but Prop 2’s requirement that laying hens be able to fully spread their wings without touching each other or the side of an enclosure is a higher standard than CDFA’s rule.
2013: The Superior Court of California dismisses the ACEF lawsuit, but grants leave to amend. The court holds that: “The fact that the statute defines confinement limitations in terms of animal behaviors rather than in square inches or other precise measurements does not render the statute facially vague.”
2013-2014: After intense lobbying from the pork and beef industries, Congress fails to enact federal rules for the production and sale of eggs that would preempt California’s rules and apply a uniform standard to all 50 states. While the bill was supported by egg producers and animal advocates alike, the beef and pork lobbies opposed the bill, arguing that federal anti-cruelty rules for chickens could lead to anti-cruelty rules for cattle and pigs, as well.
2014: The Association of California Egg Farmers voluntarily dismisses its case.
2014: The Humane Society of the United States issues a press release urging egg producers and retailers to prepare for the upcoming January 1st deadline by converting to cage-free.
2014: Rep. Steve King (R-IA) attaches a provision known as the King Amendment to the House version of the farm bill intended to nullify AB 1437 and other state laws relating to food safety, animal welfare, environmental protection, and more. The amendment is defeated and fails to win placement in the final farm bill.
2014: Six states file Missouri v. Harris in Dist. Ct. Eastern Dist. of California challenging AB 1437. They allege the law unconstitutionally interferes with interstate commerce and is preempted by the federal Egg Products Inspection Act. HSUS moves to dismiss, arguing, among other things, that Plaintiffs lack standing. The court dismisses the case—with prejudice—for lack of standing. Plaintiffs have appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
2014: New poll of California consumers show they overwhelming want egg producers and retailers to go cage-free.
2015: Proposition 2, AB 1437, and CDFA’s egg safety rule take full effect.
2015:The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirms the lower court’s judgment in the Cramer case, finding that: “[A] person of reasonable intelligence can determine the dimensions of an appropriate confinement that will comply with Proposition 2.”
2016: California egg producers JS West and Gemperle commit to going 100% cage-free, after the largest food companies operating in the state (and nationally) announce plans to do the same within their own supply chains. The list of companies going cage-free includes major California-based groups like Safeway and Raley’s, as well McDonald’s, IHOP, Denny’s, KraftHeinz, Aramark, Sodexo, Kroger, Albertsons and dozens more.
2016: The 9th Circuit dismisses Missouri v. Harris without prejudice, finding that the Plaintiff states are really suing on behalf of a small handful of egg corporations, rather than on behalf of all their citizens, as required. The court also finds that California’s egg sales law is not discriminatory because the law treats both in-state and out-of-state eggs alike.
February 2017: Authorities in San Bernardino Co. charge cage-using egg factory in Ontario, CA with 39 criminal violations of Prop 2.
May 2017: The Supreme Court of the United States declines to take up Missouri v. Harris, denying a petition for certiorari by the six ag-state attorneys general and governors that sought to overturn California’s AB 1437, thereby leaving the 9th Circuit’s favorable decision in place.