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October 16, 2008



"much of her show were a comparison of factory farms and free range farms. There is obviously a major difference between the two...that got lost..."

I think you lost that too. While free range is 3x as much for a dozen eggs, the effects of this bill are estimated at one cent per egg/12 cents per dozen. I agree that food is too cheap and while I obviously vote with my pocket book as well, I would probably vote for this bill - yes, even knowing its part of H$U$ plan to end animal ownership. But those pigs can't even itch a scratch in those gestation cages! They are SMART animals - how maddening!

Here is MO we have LOTS of factory pig farms so yes, I'm sure we'll see legislation like this sometime in the future.

Another issue is driving the agri biz out of CA. Unfortunately, the same selfish people that want the govt to do everything for them would probably rather by cheaper eggs from Mexico. Anyone know what CA's poverty rate is compared to the natl avg?


I work in farmed animal advocacy in California. I collected signatures for this campaign - nearly 100% of the people who signed the ballot petition had no inkling of how egg-laying hens are housed. Most had no clue that alternatives were available...several of the shopping markets where I collected signatures did not offer cage-free or free-range alternatives.

Voting with your pocketbook is a great tool. So is requiring producers to allow their animals enough room to turn around and stretch their limbs. Since they have been unwilling to police themselves, I have little qualms with legally requiring them to do so.

Asking people to pay a few extra dollars a year for cage-free eggs is not asking much - it IS, however, making a statement that prohibiting animals from simply turning around and stretching their wings is wrong and Californians don't want Californian raised birds treated that way. It's precedent setting and it's finally matching up to the 27-nation european union standards. It's about time people gave a smidgen more thought to the animals who they eat and whose eggs and milk they consume.

(Veal crates are not used in California and the major pork producers are phasing out gestation crates).

Having been on egg-laying operations and in sow breeding operations, it is hard for me to justify an argument (like voting w/ your pocketbook) that is more likely to take decades than the six-year phase-out that Prop 2 requires.



Good for you for getting actively involved. I do think citizens being involved is important.

It certainly sounds like a lot of educating needs to be done to the general public. I'm not surprised. Most people don't really want to think about this type of thing.

I'm not buying that most stores don't have a cage-free option. As a part of my job, I go to a LOT of grocery stores. I can't remember the last one that I've been to that didn't have cage-free eggs. Most around here have had them for several years...and KC is hardly as progressive as the west coast on this type of thing. The largest retailer in California (Safeway) instituted a huge Organics initiative 3 years ago -- I can't imagine that cage-free eggs were not a part of that.

The attitude that people paying a few extra bucks a year as being a flippant attitude scares me though. I do a fair amount of volunteer work in the inner city in KC, and there I have one family I'm working with now that is waiting until the end of this month to get their electricity turned back on because they can't afford electricity right now. There are a LOT of people out there that aren't as fortunate as you or I.

As for the industry policing themselves, I can't say I blame them. If 95% of Californians are picking up the caged eggs because they're a couple dollars cheaper than the alternative, can you blame them for wanting to produce the lowest cost eggs? I would (sadly) still not be surprised if there still wasn't a significant number of people who vote for this law, that if it passes, would not, 8 years from now, pick out the "Nevada raised" eggs over the "California raised" eggs because they're 50 cents cheaper.

Nope, producers produce what there is demand for...consumers have the ability to dictate that.

While I agree with you on the thought behind the ordinance, I've just found it frustrating that we feel the need for government to legislate things that consumer demand has complete control over.


BTW, Michelle. California's numbers are only just a bit higher than the national average -- the numbers are on the link I provided. One thing that is a bit messed up though is that the poverty line remains the same regardless of where people live. So a person making $22,000 is above poverty level in rural Missouri just the same as they are in San Francisco...even though the cost of living in SF is significantly higher.


My two cents worth...

Brent, I completely believe in the free market. However, I believe people prove over and over that they are not able to act responsibly in it and this is why government steps in. Do I like it? Not really.

The farm animal issue is so complex. Let me first start by saying I am a flexitarian, minimal meat products, but certainly not full vegetarian. I used to be a full carnivore. I switched over after going to an animal welfare conference. There was a group there that was speaking on a microphone to the folks roaming the aisles. I thought oh no, not PETA. It wasn't and I cannot even remember the group. However, the group's message was the best I have seen yet. If you drop one day of meat from your diet, this amount of animals can be saved, and so on. I looked at this as brilliant. From that day forward, I dropped my meat intake to once or twice a week. I also read up more on the animals and meat production (Omnivore's Dilemma, Animals in Translation, The Good Pig, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), finding out that pigs are smarter than dogs, and meat production does not have to be extreme cruelty. I don't eat pigs and now eat meat from local initiatives. The only reason I did this though is because I was willing to learn more about this. Many folks don't care about animals at all, proven over and over by your blog about cruelty from man towards animals. This is why I think the government should step in and try to make it better.


I'm starting to wonder if Wayne and Oprah are dating - he's practically a regular on her show.
I watched it too because a friend gave me a heads-up. I don't normally watch Oprah because the show is dumbed-down to the point of my finding it offensive - which is probably why it's so popular.

The free-range hog farmer didn't sit right with me. He didn't look like a farmer and he didn't talk like a farmer - and I know farmers. A friend whose family farms had the same impression. I go so far as to wonder whether his farm was staged for the show - I put nothing past the HSUS. It was the same gut impression I got the first time I saw Pacelle - he doesn't look or talk like the humane society types I've known over the years, from CEOs to volunteer cage-cleaners. Too slick, more like a salesman than a humane worker. Bingo.

I've said for years that if people are serious, then they have to expect prices to go way up and availability to go way down. In other words, if you don't get there early, there are no more chickens that day. This would cause riots in our complacent, spoiled, fat-headed society.

Real food, ie, stuff you actually have to prepare yourself, is incredibly cheap here in N.A. Go to Europe and compare. People buy a LOT of processed stuff, that's why they think food is expensive.

Obviously, we all agree that animals should be treated as humanely as possible.

However, who says that free range farming is more humane? Farming is a science, huge amounts of time and money are spent in developing better methods - it's a university course and it isn't an easy one.

So, let's say you've raised pigs like the guys with the mechanized operation (that's no factory farm, it's a small family op).

Currently, you have climate control, disease control, feed control, etc. You are pretty much guaranteed that your pigs will survice infancy and will be as healthy as possible under your scientifically developed conditions.

Now, you switch to what the public thinks is more humane.

Your pigs are exposed to the elements, wandering around in manure and dirt, victims of insects, bacterial infections, wounds (does anybody know how nasty pigs can get, how big and strong they are?) are spreading diseases among themselves through close contact.

Figure you could lose half your stock to infant mortality, disease, violence, poisoning, attacks by predators, theft, etc.

You've already cut your stock in half.

Farmers are always pretty close to the line economically, they aren't raking in huge profits. A couple of bad years can wipe them out.

If they have to cut production, they have to double, triple or even quadruple the price, which is why 'organic' chickens in CA grocery stores are $30 and the regular cage-raised ones are $10.

As a (now) sole person, I actually don't care if I buy eggs at $4.50 a doz (as I have for years for free-range) or the usual $1.89 because I don't eat them often and I can afford it. Same goes for privately raised meats, etc, which I also buy - the cost is pretty irrelevant to me overall.

However, if I have a family and live in a city, where I can't grow anything myself except a couple of tomato plants, don't have easy access to farms and farm markets, I'm going to be paying more for every processed item, every meat pie, every sandwich, all fresh, canned and frozen food. Supply and demand.

For what? Those pigs were not suffering and contrary to Pacelle's propaganda, they don't stay in those crates for long. Ditto the chickens. If they made the crates twice as big by removing dividers they'd still be in stalls.

And don't get me started on the veal thing. Most veal calves are outside, eating grass. The white veal is a tiny percentage of all veal, the calves only live three months and while there may be abusers our there, overall, they don't care if they are in a stall in the barn or out in the field. They eat, sleep and lie around most of the time - much like pigs, except pigs fight.

Pacelle wants to eliminate meat from the market. That's his goal. You have to keep that point uppermost in mind when listening to his spiel.


Nope, don't believe the majority of the stores don't carry free range eggs. But yeah, the GP is grossly ignorant on just about everything.

Agree with Brent that most of the CA will by the cheap eggs from NV when given the chance - even the ones that vote in favor of the ord. Hey, can't have your food budget keep you from getting the latest iPhone!

Selma if you go to the Green Dirt Farm link you will see that they aren't farmers either but decided to get into the biz to raise sheep in an humane way. I agree that none of the farms shown were factory farms as they were too clean and the animals were too well cared for. I'd be surprised that the chicken farmer didn't stage his barn for the show - chickens packed in like that would not have so many feathers.

I saw with my own two eyes a Tyson chicken truck down in AR. There was a semi trailor stacked at least 20 high with chicken crammed in as tight as they could stuff them. They all had 1/2 their feathers missing and covered in shit.

But all the while, H$U$ sits on the sidelines while thousands of innocent family pets get slaughtered in the name of BSL/MSN/pet limits and the like...


Yes, but this guy was supposedly from generations of farmers. Could be my paranoia, the old tail wagging the dog thing.

Sure, there are abuses, no question. I've been in chicken barns here and the one on Oprah seemed pretty representative of what I've seen. It is not in the farmer's interest to abuse or stress his animals, which are his livelihood. Once they get on the trucks, though, who knows?


did anyone mention that under CA PC Section 599(a) it gives the humane organization police powers? HSUS knew it and that's why they are pushing it. HSUS is becoming the clandestine snitch organization against all forms of animal business.


Hey Brent,

I don't think I claimed no store has cage free options. I think most do. However, there are at least two stores in solano county that don't offer these alternatives.


I work on a sanctuary for farmed animals. None of our domesticated pigs have been stolen, eaten by predators, spread contagious diseases or had a high mortality rate. Being fastidious creatures, they don't roll or wander around in manure. On large scale farms, with thousands of animals confined in one large building, animals live in their shit and disease is not abnormal. The reason they feed antibiotics in the feed/water is because sticking ten thousand animals in one big building w/o proper ventilation, proper exercise or correct space requirements is a perfect recipe for disease.

Yes, they are big animals. They are also intelligent. They can experience emotions and are social animals. To think anyone would argue that confining them in a crate 2'x7' is okay is appalling.

Here in California we have a big problem with feral pigs. They manage not to go extinct even with our open season on them. While they are smaller than production pigs by a couple hundred pounds, they are behaviorally and physically similar to domesticated pigs. They've done fine - so can free-range production pigs.


I love animals, all animals, don't get me wrong. I don't even kill bugs in the house, I put them outside. Just to be clear. If I had to pick a religion, Buddhism would be my choice. They eat meat, btw.

I think the way to replace extreme farming with a kinder, gentler approach is NOT through legislation. It's through creating consumer demand for the more expensive stuff - and ensuring those consumers are fully informed about the ramifications of that. Eventually, the price might come down but when you decrease supply and demand remains stable, increased costs are inevitable.

One example: Like to eat at fast food chains? Like to buy cheap, frozen, microwaveable food? Buy canned soups? Like to eat meat more than two or three times a week (I don't, btw)? Forget it - not necessarily a bad thing, imo, but these kinds of policies, with the best of intentions, can have very negative economic and social outcomes.

Outfits like the HSUS and its batty distraction group at Peta like to focus on warm and fuzzy - it's the way to raise money and move ahead with their not-so-hidden agenda. A lot of people don't grasp abstract concepts but most people love baby animals. It's a no-brainer on many levels. I wish we could lie to people and fundraise using that angle, instead of being truthful about our cause.

As S Kennedy posted, this is NOT about humane treatment of animals. It's about the creeping threat to all animal husbandry, the elimination of a millennia-old practice that many anthropoligists believe is what made us progress, especially with respect to the keeping of dogs.

The AR/AL crew in the past 25 years has systematically and in my opinion dishonestly tried to eradicate that history through duplicity and propaganda.

Two of my friends, unrelated, had pet pigs. One lived in downtown TO, the other in an apt in Burlington. Eric hid Albert (the apt pig) from the superintendent for 8 years, walked him at night, etc, much as 'pit bull' (lol) owners are doing today. So yeah, I know pigs and a lot of other animals too.

That's why I put the bugs outside and it's why I only buy meat from people who raise them the way I think is right - and butcher them in the most humane and sanitary way possible. I don't mind paying more, but we're not talking about me. We're talking about the food supply for hundreds of millions of people. Let them eat tofu? Fine by me, but I doubt that the majority of people would agree once the cold reality of this program set in.


RE: Creating demand by buying responsibly

I just don't agree; it has never worked in this country. People and their buying habits act like water, finding the lowest and least resistant path. It will be the small minority that will take the high ground, and that group will not be enough to make a difference.

Free range eggs are available in my supermarket, and have been for 10 years. My buying them has not yet changed egg farming in the state. How long is long enough to wait for real change?

I have already voted, and I voted yes on this Proposition.



Here's the thing about this law. According to most reports, cage free eggs make up about 5% of the market for eggs. Let's assume 10% to round up, take care of any vegans who would clearly vote for this but not buy eggs, etc.

For this to pass, it would need 50% of the voters to vote for it. That would mean that 40% of voters would be voting for legislation to legislate activity that they don't have the self control to purchase on their own.

That's pretty messed up.

And yeah, I know that cage-free is different than what Prop 2 will enact...but I'm just saying that if 50% (the number required to pass this vote) of the people would buy the eggs from Chickens that are better cared for, then the way chickens are treated now would be VERY different.

Consumers have a lot more power than they think. Not in individuals, but in their ability to rally each other for like-minded causes.


@brent It's about education.

Of my friends that I talked to prior to the blizzard of ads about this Proposition (n=12), 11 were unaware of how farm animals are raised. Of that 11, 9 "didn't want to is too upsetting, and I have to eat". Or variations on that theme.

That leaves 3 of 13 (including myself), or 23%, who are perhaps willing to take consumer action. Admittedly a small sample, but unlike most I am willing to go with the odds and say I am pretty average. (how is it that every parent thinks their child is above average? when you become a parent, do you forget about how averages work?)

This Proposition being on the ballot has started the thought process for a lot of people, and as this is California and trendiness being paramount, it has made it "in" to at least think about animal agriculture, consumer activism, and animal rights.

If Oprah can give us some publicity, I think that is great. (I do have some issues with Oprah/anyone commenting on issues that are not in their voting area, but that's another topic.)

It is like your blog -- you may not effect immediate change (or pass a Proposition), but at least you are educating a few. I myself have been bit many many times by Dachshunds and as a result was not entirely certain that BSL is necessarily bad....but I am happy to read your blog and BADRAP's and educate myself. ;)

Elle Guy

Being an agricultural county should not be synonymous to cruelty to animals, but in Sonoma County it may be. How can we forget 1998 Propositions 4 and 6 and the agricultural voice against these two propositions seeking humane treatment for animals?

In 2004, Petaluma City Council passed an ordinance drafted by Petaluma Animal Shelter management and park docents banning cats from most areas of the City and prohibiting volunteers from feeding or taking care of these homeless cats. They have been trapping and killing cats by the hundreds each year ever since. Where else but in Sonoma County can this be tolerated?

Please support Proposition 2 and raise your voice against cruelty to animals.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated." Mohandas Gandhi

Elle Guy

Being an agricultural county should not be synonymous to cruelty to animals, but in Sonoma County it may be. How can we forget 1998 Propositions 4 and 6 and the agricultural voice against these two propositions seeking humane treatment for animals?

In 2004, Petaluma City Council passed an ordinance drafted by Petaluma Animal Shelter management and park docents banning cats from most areas of the City and prohibiting volunteers from feeding or taking care of these homeless cats. They have been trapping and killing cats by the hundreds each year ever since. Where else but in Sonoma County can this be tolerated?

Please support Proposition 2 and raise your voice against cruelty to animals.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated." Mohandas Gandhi


Saying that this bill shouldn't pass because the government is doing the dirty work is ridiculous. One of the main reasons we have laws is because people do not always do what our society generally considers right, so we have repercussions for those who go against it.

Voting for this bill is not an easy way out; it is making a statement to factory farms that you are no longer OK with their methods and that animals in farms deserve the a basic amount of comfort. As for the argument of people who are in poverty - most of those people get access to government assistance to help them pay for their food. The anticipated rise in the cost of eggs will be one cent per egg. Even a family in poverty can cover that cost, particularly, if they get assistance for their food. And if the cost of meat goes up - so what? No human being requires meat to survive. They can buy more beans, whole grains and vegetables to get the nutrition they need. Besides, similar bills have already been passed in Arizona, Florida, and Oregon and they have not had the terrible repercussions that opponents used in their scare tactics.

The other reason this proposition is good for people is food safety. Salmonella poisoning comes from sick birds. Sick birds come from overcrowding and filth. This measure would help to reduce those problems. It certainly isn't enough, but it is a step in the right direction.

I certainly agree with your point about people choosing their foods sources more wisely, but many people do not have the time or luxury to do that. Voting for this bill is a way of telling food producers that no matter where you buy from, you want to know that your food was raised with a minimum amount of concern for animals and food safety.

Wow, it bothers me this post is ranking so high on Google. I had to say something.



Thanks for the comments - but a couple of your comments really hit home as to why I wrote the post in the first place:

1) "but many people do not have the time or luxury to do that."

It really, REALLY bugs me when people want to legislate something because it's too time consuming or inconvenient for them to research where their food comes from themselves.

2) "And if the cost of meat goes up - so what? No human being requires meat to survive"

That's easily said when you're not the person that can't afford to buy meat for your family.

I don't disagree with the idea of the bill -- at all. In fact, if I had a vote, I'd probably vote for it. However, I have a huge problem with people who feel so strongly about something that they want to LEGISLATE it because it's too time consuming or inconvenient for them to do the right thing on their own...


Brent, well written. Selma did a great job, too. I did not see Oprah's show and probably wouldn't have made it through it without wanting to shoot Wayne. I can't stand HSUS and PETA. In the '80's PETA individuals would go to horse shows and throw tomatoes at exhibitors on their horses in the ring. Cruelty towards not just the horses but to the riders. This endangered both horse and rider.

I have no tolerance in cruelty towards animals. I don't believe one should own any animal if they aren't willing or capable financially to take care of the animal no matter what species.

Both Selma and you hit it on the nose from the economic standpoint. I'm an agriculture economist by education and a seed stock producer of Santa Gertrudis and Lowline Angus. The argument it will only raise the cost of an egg by a penny is crazy. I don't think a single comment made understands that our poultry industry in this country is integrated. There are only 7-8 companies that produce all of the eggs and another 7-8 companies produce all the broilers in this country on a mass level. With the down turn in the economy and the inflated pricing on the Futures Market in grain earlier in the year, these companies are either in danger of declaring bankruptcy or have as in case of Pilgrim's Pride. Since I have gotten out of college in the early '80's the pork industry has moved towards integration. Tyson moved in to pork production to diversify. Yet Tyson is in trouble financially.

As for Rinalia's post she was correct on their intelligence, but I don't think she has ever watched a group of pigs gang up on another and kill it. I have. I couldn't get to the pig fast enough. They are social creatures, but like humans can be horribly mean towards their own.

As for Michelle, that Tyson Truck in AR was filled with broilers. They live on the ground in their barns from the time they are three to four days old to six weeks of age when they are sent to slaughter. The litter is change when they are moved out of the barn. They are packed in the truck like that for transportation so they don't injure themselves. Even 4-H and FFA kids showing broilers will pack their birds in a box or chicken crate so they can't move and injure themselves in transport to their county or state fairs. My son raised broilers. And Michelle cage free eggs produced on a large basis still live in a cage, the cage is just picked up each day and moved to give the birds new grazing and clean grass. So trust me they are dirtier then in hen houses. It is also apparent that you know little about disease in birds. Many of the diseases which cause a producer to have to kill and entire flock come from wild birds. So those who produce cage free eggs take a larger risk then those raised in environmentally controlled conditions. As for salmonella and e. coli bacteria, they are all over your household. There are more then one species in both families. You can disinfect your counter tops and within a couple of hours you will find both bacteria types on your counters when no one has prepared any food near the counters. Some species are more dangerous to us then others. Oh and Michelle one does need to eat meat products to survive. There are four amino acids our bodies require that can only be obtained from eating meat or dairy products.

I can't add much to the reasoning Brent and Selma gave on the economic issues. I think the comment that voters didn't know how their food was raised was correct. Ask and urban child in grade school where his milk comes from and the child will tell you the grocery store. I agree most adults don't want to put a face with their ribeye. I see the face of the ribeye every day when we choose to raise a calf for our beef each year. I get attached to our show cattle. Yet they are the one of the ways I derive income from them. There is even one cow that will never leave our farm. She was my daughters first show heifer. Even my husband so far has refused to sell a single heifer she has given us. She is that good a producer and her heifers don't need feed to get to 1400lbs as a grown cow. They do it all on grass. Thus they are very inexpensive for us to keep and raise calves.

I personally would not have voted for Prop 2 for the economic reasons. At least 3500 jobs will be lost to California because the egg producers will leave the state. Increase will be more then a penny a egg with transportation cost to the stores. As for the comment that the increase cost will be passed on to the consumer with increasing spacing through the building of infrastructure on the farm is a false statement. That comment doesn't hold true for a industry that produces a homozygous product. What I mean by a homozygous product is take an ear of corn grown in my home state of Texas and a ear of corn grown in Iowa. I put the two in your hands you wouldn't be able to tell me where the two ears were grown. I can build two more barns and new cross fencing and I wouldn't be able to pass the cost on to my customers. Market rates even for a seed stock producer like me is not set by me. It is set by the market as a whole. If I want more for my product I have to create a whole new market myself for my beef. That in itself is difficult at best. That's why we choose to market our cattle to the Show Cattle Market. I can get $1500 to $15,000 more per head depending on whether it is a Santa Gertrudis or Lowline Angus. Yet at the same time I must never forget that animal will eventually wind up in the pasture expected to perform as a cow producing and raising a calf every year until she is 12 to 14 years of age. Or if a bull can perform in the pasture until he is at least 10 years of age. I want my cattle to live off the land. I'm not a cattle rancher. I'm a grass farmer that markets my grass production via my cattle. So I find it a great challenge to achieve that great show calf with the ability to be an efficient converter of grass to beef on the hoof with a long productive life. This concept brings back my customers.

Currently there is a paradigm shift beginning to occur in the beef industry. We have this great concept in this country that bigger is better. It's in all aspects of our society. For 30 years I've heard produce big calves that will weigh 600lbs when they go to market. That 600lb calf has to come off a 1400-1600lb cow. I can keep two 1100 lb efficient cows that will wean a 500lb calf instead of the one 1400lb cow. Seems as I have a 1000lb of beef to sell instead of 600lbs of beef. Also research has shown the smaller the cow the more efficient she is on using only grass to sustain herself. I keep hearing from producers I can't produce enough lbs to justify the cost. It is becoming more important to move to the overall herd in the US to move towards a smaller size. Yet is a shift that is not readily accepted by producers yet.

I explained this shift because I don't want those who do not understand agriculture to legislate how many cows per acre(s) I am allowed to keep on my land. The vast majority of individuals in this country have no idea I am the steward of my land and I don't need my land in Central Texas to be compared to land on the Gulf Coast of Texas or West Texas.

With keeping the last statement in mind we loose a great amount of agriculture land every year to human development and legislation. We need to constantly be finding ways to increase production with less land each year. We are fortunate to be the greatest producer of food in the world. It allows for the standard of living we all enjoy. We can feed our country and when I was in college we produced enough to feed the entire world. We are incapable of that 25 years later. At what point do we legislate ourselves into not being able to feed our country. Hopefully not in our lifetime.

I spent over a month thinking about the passage of Prop 2 in California and I finally wrote a post about it on my blog.

Brent, thank you for your insightful post. I enjoyed it and all of the comments that contributed to this thread.


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