With 85 days till the November election, cackling continues in the media over Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. The proposed law would bar veal crates, battery cages, sow gestation crates and any enclosure that prevents animals from turning around, standing up or spreading their wings.
Fresno Bee reporter Dennis Pollock called it a "study in cage fighting" when he reported on what he termed "dueling news releases."
In his column, Pollock wrote, "The headline on a release from the University of California: 'UC study: If passed, initiative likely to drive egg production out of state.' . . . the Humane Society of the United States countered with: 'New UC Davis study claims Prop 2 is good for consumers ...'
According to the Daily News, Tehama County farmer Zach Whitten is in favor of the initiative. Whitten will be unaffected by the law. He uses a system called "range confinement," housing chickens in cages large enough to let them wander around and dust themselves.
The story quotes the UC Agricultural Issues Center study, saying that the Proposition could raise in-state egg costs by 20 percent for the farmer and 25 percent for the consumer, but that grocery store prices will be stable as out-of-state producers send more eggs over the state line.
The Fresno Bee story noted that the Merced County Board of Supervisors voted to oppose the initiative.
An article in the North (San Diego) County Times, which also pulled information from the AIC study, quoted two egg producers:
"We won't be in operation anymore," Ryan Armstrong, vice president of operations for Armstrong Egg Farms in Valley Center, predicted. "We'd have to buy hundreds of acres to supply as many eggs as we do now. At $50,000 an acre, it gets pretty expensive."
The cost of compliance would be "prohibitive," according Kevin Demler, whose Pine Hill Egg Ranch in Ramona is the largest in the county, with 1 million hens.