The Hill

Price Of Eggs Is Going Up: Animal Rights Activists Abolish Cramped Chicken Cages, Cause Egg Price Increase

Egg Prices Increase With New Law
The price Californians pay to provide humane living spaces for hens just increased. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

California is making more room for less chickens. Over the last six months, San Diego County has reduced its amount of egg-laying hens by half, in order to give each hen more living space. A simple supply and demand can predict the price of eggs will likely go up if there are less chickens to produce them.

The price increase could appear in supermarkets as early as next week, so it’ll be as if consumers are paying more for their egg mother’s upgraded living quarters. Animal advocates believe in abolishing confined cramped cages and crates because, not only does it cause suffering to another living being, but it also increases the chance of Salmonella contamination. The unprecedented animal welfare law will take effect on New Year’s Day, which is why California farmers are rushing to fall into compliance.

"Egg producers have had six years to come into compliance with Prop. 2, and instead of using that time to convert to cage-free systems, they've simply sued and sued and lost every suit they filed while sitting on their hands," Paul Shapiro, vice president for farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States, a leading proponent of California's new animal welfare regulations, told the Los Angeles Times.

"The interstate commerce challenge is going to be a bigger problem unless we have national standards," Chad Gregory, president of the Georgia-based United Egg Producers, which represents over 90 percent of the nation's egg farmers, told the LA Times. Oregon, Washington, Michigan, and Ohio have all followed California’s lead and introduced similar fair-farming laws. Gregory hopes the federal government will step in and set uniform guidelines for improving farm animals’ lives before each state has to spend time grappling with their own new laws.

By the time the average full plate of food makes it to an American’s dinnert able, it has traveled 1,500 miles, according to the Natural Society. Food has been transformed with preservatives and additives to survive the journey to your fork, and by the time it reaches your mouth it hardly looks like its original form. It’s easy for the consumer to forget his chicken nuggets were once a chicken or our omelette came from eggs, which is why advocates are necessary to remind us a living animal made the meal possible.

“The sad reality is consumers don't really know where their food comes from. What they think farming should look like is not a realistic picture if you want to provide a good and affordable source of food to 315 million people,” Gregory said.

Consumers are already increasingly buying cage-free or pasture-raised chickens even though they cost two to three times more than a regular carton from the bosoms of cage-confined chickens. Maybe the price increase won’t bother consumers if they remember what their extra couple of quarters are buying them. 

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