Monday, January 26, 2015

Humans Hit Hard by California's New Chicken-Coop Law, Especially the Poor

More on California's anti-human animal welfare law that's causing a shortage of eggs.

At the Wall Street Journal, "California’s Scrambled Eggs":
California has a way of living up to the worst regulatory expectations, as grocery shoppers across the country are discovering. The state’s latest animal-rights march is levying a punishing new food tax on the nation’s poor.

Egg prices are soaring in California, where the USDA says the average price for a dozen jumbo eggs is $3.16, up from $1.18 a dozen a year ago, and in some parts of the state it’s more than $5. The Iowa State University Egg Industry Center says retail egg prices in California are 66% higher than in other parts of the West. National wholesale egg prices also climbed nearly 35% over the 2014 holiday period, before retreating.

The cause of these price gyrations is an initiative passed by California voters in 2008 that required the state’s poultry farmers to house their hens in significantly larger cages. The state legislature realized this would put home-state farmers at a disadvantage, so in 2010 it compounded the problem by requiring that eggs imported from other states come from farms meeting the same cage standards, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

The new standards require cages almost twice the size of the industry norm, with estimated costs to comply of up to $40 a hen. That’s about $2 million for a farm with 50,000 chickens. Some farmers are passing the costs on to consumers, while others are culling their flocks by half for each cage.

Government statistics show that the number of egg-laying chickens in California has fallen 23% in two years. Many farmers outside the state are choosing not to sell eggs to California, leaving egg brokers scouring the country for cage-compliant eggs and paying top dollar to meet demand in a state that has imported more than four billion eggs a year.

This comes when egg demand is growing, in part because soaring meat prices have caused Americans to turn to other foods. Per capita consumption is expected to reach more than 260 eggs this year, the highest since 1983, according to the USDA. The poorest consumers have been hit hardest by the price spike because eggs have traditionally been a cheap source of protein.

California’s cage law is part of the nationwide animal-rights effort to raise the costs of animal food production in the name of more, well, humane treatment. Groups like the Humane Society of the United States failed to get Congress to pass national chicken-cage standards, so they turned to California to set what they hoped would be a de facto national standard because of the size of its market.

There’s a strong argument that this violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which bars states from discriminating against interstate trade...
Still more.

And previously, "California Faces Egg Shortage as Far-Left Animal Welfare Law Takes Effect," and "Prices for Wholesale Eggs Expected to Rise 10 to 40 Percent in 2015 as California Animal Welfare Law Kicks In."