California residents approved Proposition 12 by a 61- to 39-percent vote during yesterday’s midterm elections. The new legislation sets specific minimum space requirements for animals raised for food, which builds upon 2008 ballot measure Proposition 2—which set out preliminary measures to ban extreme confinement of farmed animals. By 2020, breeding mother pigs must be provided with at least 24-square-feet of usable space, calves will have a minimum requirement of 43-square-feet of space in their crates, and egg-laying chickens must be given one square foot of space—with a requirement that chickens must be “cage-free” by 2022. Additionally, all animal products raised outside of California that do not comply with these requirements are barred from sale in the state. Supporters of Proposition 12—such as animal-rights group Mercy For Animals—argue that these measures, while not perfect, are a step forward for the state, and set a precedent for the country. “Since so much progress was made after Proposition 2,” MFA president Leah Garces told VegNews, “leading animal protection organizations came together and decided it was time to upgrade Proposition 2 by putting forth Proposition 12, which will increase space, resulting in cage-free conditions, while also ensuring farmers who want to sell into California must meet these standards.” According to agricultural economics professor Jayson Lusk, the passing of Proposition 12 may result in a price increase of shelled eggs (those sold whole to consumers) by 15 to 20 percent, resulting in a decrease in total eggs sold. “Additionally, these ballot measure campaigns raise significant awareness around factory farming, inspiring citizens to examine their food choices,” Garces said, explaining that television ads and other campaign materials depicting animal cruelty were seen by millions of Californians prior to the midterm elections. “Since California is the largest state––and the world’s 5th largest economy––this will reduce the suffering of millions of farmed animals crammed into cages and crates each year,” Garces said. “It is a huge step toward ending factory farming, and we’re proud to have played a role in the incredible campaign that made this victory possible.
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