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Trump 'fixer' Michael Cohen gets three years, and Trump calls him a liar. Also on the Thursday rundown: Higher smoking rates cause some states to fall in health rankings; and the Farm Bill helps wilderness areas.

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Will Iowa Follow California's Lead on Cage-free Eggs?

A law passed by Californians earlier this month will dictate how egg producers in other states raise their chickens if they want to sell their eggs in the Golden State. (scpr.org)
A law passed by Californians earlier this month will dictate how egg producers in other states raise their chickens if they want to sell their eggs in the Golden State. (scpr.org)
November 26, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – 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.

"The demand for cage-free eggs is exploding nationwide,” he states. “In the last seven years, the sale of non-organic, cage-free eggs has gone up by about 500 percent. So, they're available, really, wherever you are these days in a mainstream supermarket."

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.

"Confining chickens in a cage where they can barely move for their entire lives is just not acceptable,” Carlson stresses. “Not acceptable for the animals, it's not acceptable for consumers.

“And so, cage-free is really just the lowest minimum standard, simply saying that animals with legs and wings should be able to spread those wings and move those legs."

And more than eggs will be affected.

The measure approved by voters also bans the sale of pork and veal in California from farm animals raised in cages that don't meet the state's minimum size requirements: at least 43 square feet of usable floor space for calves, and 24 square feet for breeding pigs.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA