Prop 2: Standards for Confining Farm Animals—CON

Proposition 2 is a veiled attack on corporations and the farming business. Ostensibly to protect “animal rights,” the proposition’s central “reform” is an increase in the size of animal pens by 2015. The reality is that such a requirement is too costly and defeats the causes it purports to defend.
Proponents make several claims about what the increase in pen sizes will entail, but all of them are misleading. For instance, they claim that increased pen size will decrease incidences of salmonella contamination and other feces-borne diseases as well as make the egg-laying process more humane.
In fact, the farming industry has already undertaken these supposed “reforms.” Close to 100 percent of the farming industry currently adheres to the Pacific Egg and Poultry Association’s 1994 “California Egg Quality Assurance Plan.” A study in the journal “Avian Disease” found that the management standards of egg production imposed by this plan have dramatically reduced incidents of egg-borne salmonella and, relative to other states, California’s safe egg production is some of the best in the nation.
By claiming “common sense reform,” the proponents of Proposition 2 certainly miss the crucial “common sense” hole in their logic: The farming industry has absolutely no interest in contaminating its product. The notion that animals wade through feces in their pens is totally false. The industry has already created pens in which hens and other animals are kept separated from their feces. It is already in these businesses’ interest to maintain their animals’ health and safety and not to risk the quality of their product, which would decrease sales.
Pen size is merely a red herring; the real intent is to create backdoor penalties on business. Their motive, you ask? As part of the environmental lobby, they simply want to disrupt business practices to further their agenda, à la the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The proposition will not only incur costs for the farming industry itself, but via reverberating effects, on much-loathed corporations such as McDonald’s that are supplied with this meat. The act merely panders to a burgeoning “green industry,” tied to liberal bureaucratic interests, in competition with established businesses such as McDonald’s. Of course, the industry will simply pass the costs on to its buyers, and fast food companies and grocery stores will, in turn, raise prices.
There are several unions opposed to the proposition, including the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council and California Teamsters Public Affairs Council. The reason is that the act effectively outsources egg production. Opponents contend that the industry will begin shifting its emphasis on imported eggs from Mexico to keep its prices low, which may in turn cost jobs and hurt California workers.
While proponents claim the act will only incur a small increase in price per egg, their figures are likely extremely low. While a pen size increase might sound like an easy thing to do on paper, this proposition will require farmers to reconstruct their facilities from the ground up. Between purchasing extra land, expanding structures inside and out, as well as other costs such as materials and contractors, the hidden burden is exponentially beyond the proponents’ estimates. So save yourself some money, keep jobs in the state and protect California businesses by voting no on Proposition 2.

Patrick Ross is a fifth-year English and history double-major. He can be reached at