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Proposition 12: California's Egg Fight Revisited, With A Side Of Veal And Pork

California voters are right to think they already weighed in on how big cages should be for egg-laying hens.

In 2008, voters ushered in Proposition 2, which sought to free egg-laying hens from tiny cages. It didn't outlaw cages but barred California farmers from keeping hens — as well as calves raised for veal and breeding pigs — in pens so small they virtually couldn't move.

Since then, supermarket shelves have filled with cage-free egg varieties. Corporations like McDonald's, Costco and Taco Bell have committed to using cage-free products.

But a decade later, voters are being asked to revisit the issue with Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative.



  • YES vote on this measure means: There would be new minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal. California businesses would be banned from selling eggs or uncooked pork or veal that came from animals housed in ways that did not meet these requirements.
  • NO vote on this measure means: Current minimum space requirements for confining egg-laying hens, pregnant pigs, and calves raised for veal would continue to apply. Current ban on businesses in California selling eggs not meeting these space requirements for hens would remain in effect.


  • Potential decrease in state income tax revenues from farm businesses, likely not more than several million dollars annually.
  • State costs up to $10 million annually to enforce the measure.
  • Ballot impact data and vote text from the California Legislative Analyst's Office


The Humane Society of the United States, the issue's primary proponent, says the measure is needed to update California standards and to apply those standards to out-of-state farmers selling their products in California. The earlier initiative simply stated the three types of animals must be able to turn around freely, stand up and fully extend their limbs — but set no specifics.

A "yes" vote for Proposition 12 would create new minimum size requirements for confinement pens for all three animals and require that all egg-laying hens be cage-free by 2022.

It would also ban the sales from other states not meeting California's standards.

The Humane Society calls the measure a "commonsense reform" that strengthens a decade-old animal cruelty law and gives farmers a phase-in time to shift to more humane practices.


    Authorizes Bonds to Fund Specified Housing Assistance Programs. Legislative Statute.
    Authorizes Bonds to Fund Existing Housing Program for Individuals With Mental Illness. Legislative Statute.
    Authorizes Bonds to Fund Projects for Water Supply and Quality, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Water Conveyance, and Groundwater Sustainability and Storage. Initiative Statute.
    Authorizes Bonds Funding Construction at Hospitals Providing Children's Health Care. Initiative Statute.
    Changes Requirements for Certain Property Owners to Transfer Their Property Tax Base to Replacement Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
    Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding. Requires Certain Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees Be Approved by the Electorate. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
    Conforms California Daylight Saving Time to Federal Law. Allows Legislature to Change Daylight Saving Time Period. Legislative Statute.
    Regulates Amounts Outpatient Kidney Dialysis Clinics Charge for Dialysis Treatment. Initiative Statute.
    Removed from the ballot
    Expands Local Governments' Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property. Initiative Statute.
    Requires Private-sector Emergency Ambulance Employees to Remain on-call During Work Breaks. Eliminates Certain Employer Liability. Initiative Statute.
    Establishes New Standards for Confinement of Specified Farm Animals; Bans Sale of Noncomplying Products. Initiative Statute.

Specifically, the measure would require, starting in 2020, a calf confined for production to have at least 43 square feet (4 square meters) of floor space to roam in, while each pig would have to be given 24 square feet (2.2 square meters) of floor space starting in 2022.

Egg-laying hens, starting in 2020, must be given 1 square foot (0.1 square meter) of floor space each, and have to be cage-free by 2022, according to Proposition 12.

According to findings of the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, the measure would likely result in an increase in prices for eggs, pork and veal partly because farmers would have to remodel or build new housing for animals.

The Association of California Egg Farmers also opposes the measure, saying the expedited timeline could lead to supply disruptions, price spikes and a shortage of eggs for sale.

The Legislative Analyst's Office concluded that if approved, the measure could cost the state as much as $10 million a year to enforce, and millions of dollars more per year in lost tax revenues from farm businesses that choose to stop or reduce production because of higher costs.

Other opponents of Proposition 12 say it doesn't go far enough to stop animal cruelty.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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