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CA Law to Improve Conditions for Farm Animals Takes Effect

Chickens are commonly kept in battery cages about the size of a large microwave that fits six to eight birds. (Colony Cages)
Chickens are commonly kept in battery cages about the size of a large microwave that fits six to eight birds. (Colony Cages)
December 30, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A new California law to improve living conditions for certain farm animals goes into effect Wednesday - and it is expected to have ripple effects on the way animals are treated across the country.

Proposition 12 increases the space a pig must have to 24 square feet by 2022. Josh Balk, vice president for farm animal protection with the Humane Society, says the gestation crates in wide use now are barbaric.

"These are cages barely larger than their own body," says Balk. "They're basically forced to live in a coffin for roughly four years. You know, if this was done to a dog or a cat, we'd be arrested for felony cruelty charges. "

Starting Wednesday, veal calves must be given 43 square feet and hens must be given one square foot of space each. The law mandates a cage-free environment by the end of 2021 - and it affects other states because the measure bans the sale of animal products in California that don't meet these standards.

Amber Canavan, senior campaigner with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, says the new law doesn't go far enough because female chicks can still have their beaks cut off, and male chickens can still be gassed to death.

She recommends that consumers vote with their pocketbooks by going vegan.

"We found that consumers can't trust any label that says 'humane,' 'cage-free,' 'free range,'" says Canavan. "And the safest thing for consumers to do is to avoid products that come from animals entirely."

The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation have filed a legal challenge, saying the law will hurt small family farms that can't afford to convert their facilities. A judge recently dismissed a similar challenge by the North American Meat Institute.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA