Do you live in California? Have you tried Mexican eggs? Are you comfortable with the idea? Better get used to it. And if you’ve donated money to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in the past few years, give yourself a hearty pat on the back. Yesterday, California voters approved Proposition 2, an HSUS-financed animal rights ballot measure that will make it illegal — beginning in 2015 — for Golden State farmers to raise egg-laying hens in cages. The animal rights movement may claim to have a deep understanding of what chickens want, but they don’t know beans about how humans behave. Prop. 2 won’t change how your eggs are produced. It will just change where they’re produced.
The Fresno Bee warned last month that passage of Prop. 2 would result in a situation where “we’d have humane new standards for caging farm animals that applied to no one, and we’d be buying eggs from other states and from Mexico, where the old practices would still be in place.” And why wouldn’t egg producers clear out of California? A UC Davis study spelled out the economic realities that emotion-driven activists tend to ignore:
[T]he regulations implied by a successful initiative would raise costs of California producers by at least 20 percent relative to its out-of-state competitors … [S]ubstantial new out-of-state egg supply could be forthcoming within a six-year horizon at little, if any, additional per-unit cost, and much less than the additional cost that a shift to non-cage housing would entail for California producers.
We’re betting HSUS has a plan for eventually squeezing egg producers in other U.S. states, one by one. HSUS president Wayne Pacelle’s ghost-writer gushed today that “no state in the U.S. and no Agribusiness titan anywhere in the nation can overlook this mandate.” HSUS’s campaign ally Farm Sanctuary prognosticated in an e-mail this morning: “As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation … [this] sets the stage for other states to follow in California’s path.” Even the phony-baloney Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine let its animal-rights agenda show, boasting that Prop. 2 “will likely lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states.”
But Mexico, alas, will remain out of reach. Even for a gargantuan animal rights group with nearly a quarter-billion dollars in the bank. In the end, HSUS will have succeeded only in two things: forcing egg production outside the reach of reasonable regulators and welfare-minded farmers, and (of course) enriching its own bottom line. Huevos revueltos, anyone?