Caged chickens are right up there with gay marriage and Barack Obama on California's ballot this year. If passed tomorrow, the hot button Proposition 2, or the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, will prohibit the "cruel confinement" of California's pigs, cows, and chickens. Farmers would have until January 1, 2015, to increase space within crates and cages or go entirely cage-free.
While many farmers and vets are behind the happy vision of animals being able to stretch their legs, the opposition argues that it could put local egg farmers out of business. If cage real estate gets too expensive, eggs will have to be imported from Mexico (where cage roominess standards don't exist). The birds, when left wild and outside, could also run into infections like bird flu and salmonella, argues Californians for Safe Food.
Business aside, it's hard to watch videos of pent-up animals (where they can't even turn around) and not feel awful. Yes on Prop. 2 says consumer egg prices would go up "by a few pennies per dozen," which is probably better than the hidden price animals pay. Oakland North, UC Berkeley journalism school's online news project, breaks down the issue really well.
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