Saturday, August 23, 2008

California and Prop 2

Hurray for Californians that we want to do something about the treatment of farm animals. But too bad its coming in the form of Prop 2. While the intentions are good, it will just cause commercial producers to move out of state and will not offer Californians better choices in eggs, ham, and veal.

I am not saying it should be defeated - its passing will leave a great opportunity for farmers who want to do it right. All I am saying is that we need MORE to really give Californians a choice.

We need our state government to push for clear and accurate terms on our food labels so consumers really know what they are getting. The USDA terms are misleading and in some cases I think fraudulent. If we had labeling requirements that said a label like "Outdoor Free Range" HAD to really mean outdoor paddocks, shelters, grass, and at least 10 square feet per chicken then California consumers would be able to support with their wallets the farming practices they approve.

Moving our egg production out of state is only going to mean that we pay a little more for eggs and when we look at the "cage-free" label it still means little in the way of improvement for the life of hens.

So for me, prop 2 is a meaningless initiatve. As a farmer it will make my eggs seem more reasonable in the market. (My hens have hundreds of feet per chicken, grass, bugs, nuts - they live a happy chicken life.) But as a lover of all animals and in particular chickens its disheartening to me that millions of laying hens will still be miserable and providing California eggs despite the best intentions of the citizens.

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