Chickens will have twice as much room to roam inside henhouses than they traditionally had after California's Proposition 2 went into effect on Thursday. The state now requires commercial egg producers give every chicken 70 percent more room.
In an industry shift that's focusing on production efficiency to include animal and environmental welfare, CEO of the United Egg Producers, Chad Gregory, told Bloomberg that the push for bigger cages is part of a “larger consumer trend toward food that’s perceived as more humane and sustainable,” according to ThinkProgress. Not only will California egg producers have to abide by the new law, so will eggs imported into the state. According to an NBC report, "any producer shipping products in from outside of the state will have to comply with the new rules."
While Proposition 2 was introduced back in 2008, the law was passed to move past crammed henhouses and instead, require egg production “come from hens able to stand up, fully extend their limbs, lie down and spread their wings without touching each other or the sides of their enclosure.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, egg consumption is at a "seven-year-high" and California is the largest consumer of eggs in all of the U.S.
It's assumed that some out-of-state producers are not yet in compliance with the law with a number of lawsuits brought about by egg producers. But many egg producers are "going above and beyond the requirements by setting up completely cage-free barns with varying perches," according to Think Progress.
No matter what, California took a "moderate step" forward to make egg production more humane, according to many activists.
If egg producers want to continue providing egg for California, chickens that lay eggs will have to do so in California-compliant henhouses starting now or else.
Will other states follow California's lead?