Its not easy being a chicken. Those raised for meat in China, for example, have lives that are so horrific farm managers feed them Prozac. Egg-laying hens in Californias factory farms are almost inevitably kept in wire-mesh cages so narrow they cannot even turn around.
In 2008, the voters of California passed Proposition 2, which required that by 2015, factory egg farms redesign their cages to be wide enough to allow hens to stand up, stretch their wings and turn around a move to make the lives of the chickens a little less horrible.
Not surprisingly, Californias egg farmers have complained that reconfiguring their factories will cost a fortune and that egg farmers from outside the state will be able to sell eggs at a cheaper wholesale price, ultimately driving the locals out of the market. Nonetheless, the voters of California have spoken, and they have declared that our egg farmers must give their hens some measure of comfort.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently sponsored the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, a bill that would have overridden Prop. 2 and established federal standards for egg factory farms that no state government or explicit, voter-mandated laws could contest. The bill indicated the will of California voters shouldnt matter. It stated that the federal government ultimately has the authority to regulate interstate commerce, and it should be explicitly empowered to set all standards for the care and treatment of chickens. Of course, the federal standards would never rise to the level of Californias, and the states mandate would be wiped out.
The Senate recently rejected Feinsteins bill, which is a welcome move. California led the way on trying to make factory farms more humane for the animals, and an erosion of the proposition from our own senator would have been discouraging.