What the Ag Industry & UC Davis Say

During the Prop 2 campaign, the egg industry produced its own report on what the ballot measure would mean if enacted. The report wasn’t vague about whether cages would be viable under the law:

“it effectively bans almost all commercial egg production in the state as of 2015, including both modern cage housing and the existing cage-free housing.”

“Chickens have wingspans of up to 28 inches when both are extended. Therefore, a reasonable interpretation of the practical effect of the language in the initiative is that each hen, whether caged or cage-free, would be required to have a minimum of 784 square inches of space (28 x 28) which is 5.4 square feet.”

UC Davis professors Joy Mench and Daniel Sumner also produced a report critical of Prop 2. While they weren’t supportive of the measure, they were clear on what they thought the measure meant:

“[I]nformed expectations and careful assessments are that, if passed, the resulting regulations would eliminate the use of cage systems for laying hens in California and may be even more restrictive.”

Professor Joy Mench also testified at a legislative hearing on August 8, 2008, submitting written materials in which she wrote:

“This proposition will ban the use of conventional cages for housing hens in California, and will also prevent California producers from adopting enriched cages.”

Professor Mench stated during an October 24, 2008 lecture:

“Now, the big issue about furnished cages and Prop 2: Although furnished cages are bigger than battery cages, they are still not big enough to meet the requirements of Prop 2. Furnished cages are not big enough for a hen to fully extend both of her wings and not touch another hen or the cage. If Prop 2 passes, furnished cages will not be allowed in California.”

Professor Mench also stated during the Senate and Assembly Committees on Agriculture Joint Informational Hearing on August 8, 2008:

“One system that looks very promising to me is called a “furnished” cage. It’s a cage, but it has a perch and a nest box and a dust bath in it. My interpretation of this language is that this language would also prevent California producers from adopting those systems should they choose to do so.”

“I believe it will prevent furnished cages certainly, again, because of the wing-flapping language. I think the wings will touch the sides of the enclosure or another hen.”

“They would have to move to non-cage systems, and what kind of non-cage system would depend upon exactly how this language was interpreted.”