This fall, California voters will consider the most comprehensive farm animal rights law in the United States. The measure would ban cramped metal cages for egg-laying hens, metal gestation crates for pregnant sows, and veal crates for calves, all practices in which animals are kept so confined that they can barely move.
Earlier this year, the Colorado Legislature became the first in the nation to prohibit the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs and veal crates for calves. Florida and Oregon voters have banned gestation crates, and Arizona voters banned both gestation crates and veal crates.
California's egg industry, which is the fifth largest in the country, is preparing an all-out campaign to defeat the measure. The United Egg Producers and the Pacific Egg & Poultry Association are arguing that the measure would threaten the health of hens and eggs, since hens allowed to roam free might contract avian diseases from exposure to the outside.