Facts about California Eggs
Egg Production Today
Under Proposition 2 voted into law in 2008, California egg farmers are not allowed to use conventional cages to house their egg-producing hens. Instead, hens are housed in two different kinds of systems, both designed to provide them with more space.
The Transition to Cage-Free
California egg farmers are transitioning their operations so they are 100% cage-free by 2025. In the meantime, systems known as "colony cages" are being used as a temporary solution while farmers transition their hen houses to be fully cage-free.
The official definition of these systems is as follows:
Cage-Free – An indoor or outdoor controlled environment for egg-laying hens where they are free to roam unrestricted; are provided enrichments that allow them to exhibit natural behaviors including, at a minimum, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes, and dust bathing areas.
Colony Cages – A production system that provides adequate space for birds to lie down, stand up, turn around freely and fully extend both wings without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens for all or the majority of any day.
You can learn more about colony cages and the transition to cage-free by watching the following videos.
Enhanced Colony System
Caged to Cage Free
California Egg Production
In 2018, California egg farmers are estimated to house 13.7 million hens producing 3.9 billion eggs making California the 7th largest producer of eggs in the U.S.
Why the Association of California Egg Farmers opposes Proposition 12
California's egg farmers support cage-free in a timely manner as do grocery stores and restaurants who are working to implement cage free production by 2025. Why 2025? Because it is the date agreed upon by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the food industry to exclusively supply 100% cage-free eggs in California.
We support the orderly transition to cage-free eggs as does most of the nation's food, retail, hospitality, foodservice and food manufacturing businesses. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 72% of these businesses have already committed to serve and sell cage-free eggs by 2025.
Now—despite the commitments to go cage-free by the nation's food, retail, hospitality, foodservice and food manufacturing businesses—HSUS has written Proposition 12 to require full compliance by the end of 2021 and, in doing so, is reneging on its own agreement with food retail, hospitality, foodservice and food manufacturing businesses. To stay in business, California's egg farmers were forced to spend more than $250 million dollars to convert their hen housing systems to comply with Proposition 2 since it passed in 2008. Now with Proposition 12, HSUS is demanding even more restrictions on egg farmers in the coming years. Once again, a poorly written initiative by HSUS could result in supply disruptions, price spikes and a shortage of eggs for sale.
Why Should You Care?
If Proposition 12 passes, all eggs produced or sold in California must be cage-free eggs by 2021. This change in deadline, 2025 to 2021, means consumers could experience higher priced eggs making a popular, high-quality protein too expensive for many people. The California egg farmers who remain in business will be required to accelerate their business plans, seek construction loans, obtain permits and spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars in just 36 months to avoid severe criminal penalties. Regulators will be required to adjust their focus from food safety to become the "meat police." Who is going to pay for it? You and all California consumers.
Although California egg farmers are transitioning to cage-free as quickly as possible, it's estimated that 35% of the eggs produced in California will not be cage-free by 2021. According to an economic study, a reduction in egg supplies of this magnitude occurred back in 2015 when Proposition 2 became law. It is very likely that Californian egg consumers will experience a similar price hike in 2021 should Proposition 12 become law.
Accelerating the deadline to transition to cage free production is not necessary and would punish both egg farmers and consumers. California egg farmers are simply asking that they be allowed to deliver on their commitment to be 100% cage-free by 2025. Efforts are well underway which will provide cage-free eggs in an orderly manner which will likely minimize any price spikes or market disruptions.
About the Association of California Egg Farmers
The Association of California Egg Farmers (ACEF) is a voluntary trade association established in 2009. It serves as the voice for California egg farmers, an industry that is critical to the state's economy and food supply.
The members of ACEF are family-owned businesses operating throughout California. ACEF is charged with helping these farmers to understand and follow regulations for food safety, the environment and animal protection and to ensure the continued production of fresh, affordable eggs.