Some 1,800 miles separate Iowa from California, but a law passed by voters there could affect how many Iowa eggs are sold in the Golden State four years from now. At the polls this month, voters approved a measure that requires all eggs sold in California come from cage-free hens by 2022. As the nation’s largest egg producer, Iowa will need to make big changes to comply.
Cody Carlson, a staff attorney with the advocacy group Mercy for Animals, says the overwhelming support for California’s Proposition 12 confirms that many Americans no longer want to eat eggs from battery-caged hens.
Major retailers, including Walmart and McDonald’s, have pledged to switch to cage-free eggs in the next decade.
Nonetheless, Iowa lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that would require many stores to stock eggs from caged chickens – a move designed to stop retailers from phasing them out.
The Association of California Egg Farmers and the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office opposed the ballot measure, saying it would likely increase prices as egg producers remodel or build new housing for their chickens.
But Carlson says California, with its 40 million residents, consumes a lot of eggs, and other states may follow its lead in requiring more humane treatment of farm animals.
And more than eggs will be affected.