Proposition 2, the California initiative enacted in 2008 by a statewide vote of 63.5 to 36.5 banning the "inhumane confinement of egg laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves so small the animals cannot stretch their limbs, lie down, or turn around," has been upheld by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Motions were filed by The Humane Society of the United States and the California Attorney General in response to an angry California egg producer's legal action against Proposition 2, but the Court dismissed each challenge.
The Court concluded that: "Proposition 2 establishes a clear test that any law enforcement officer can apply, and that test does not require the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute." The Court reprimanded the plaintiff for filing legal action, noting that just because he doesn't like or agree with Proposition 2, doesn't mean he can challenge the Constitutionality of it.
Jonathan R. Lovvorn, the Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel for Animal Protection Litigation for the Humane Society of the United States said: "We are delighted the Court has sided with the millions of California voters who supported this measure, and chose humane treatment over extreme confinement practices." He further noted that "Proposition 2 is a simple, basic humane standard that is easy to understand, and well within the State's broad legal authority to prevent animal cruelty."
Proposition 2, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015, gives agricultural workers a "phase-in period" of at least six years to make the transition to more humane practices.
There is a collaborative effort among the HSUS and egg producers nationwide to pass Federal Legislation, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments, S 3239 and H.R 3798, sponsored by California Senators and Representatives, which would "extend the humane protections of Proposition 2 to the entire U.S. egg industry and phase out the use of barren battery cages over the next 15 to 18 years."
Only a small number of farmers have begun to invest in more spacious housing for birds where they can nest, scratch and engage in their natural behaviors. It is the hope that this federal legislation will pass and provide "clarity for what is acceptable hen housing in all states in the future."