Animal Rights Ripple Effects

On Tuesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law that will require all eggs sold in the state (starting in 2015) to come from producers compliant with “Proposition 2” standards. The 2008 "Prop 2" ballot initiative, you'll remember, was the clever brainchild of the animal-rights pushing Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). For the Governator, it was damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Not signing it would have put California’s egg producers at a competitive disadvantage. But as we read yesterday at the Des Moines Register, Arnold’s signature means that egg farms all across America could be forced to change.

In other words, HSUS’s trail-blazing with one ballot initiative is having ripple effects in other states.

Before this law was signed, University of California-Davis researchers predicted that it would devastate California’s egg industry. But now that Prop 2 will be applied to out-of-state farmers who want to sell eggs to Californians as well, the same researchers predict that the cost of eggs will rise everywhere.

The chief result? “People will eat fewer eggs,” one researcher told the San Francisco Chronicle. Which is exactly what HSUS was after in its quest to move Americans towards a PETA-approved diet.

Also troubling is that Prop 2’s standards are remarkably vague—something HSUS has encouraged. HSUS opposed an attempt to allow the California government to explicitly translate Prop 2’s general statements into specific regulations that businesses could easily implement. This means HSUS is now able to challenge one farm’s $3.2 million renovation to be Prop 2-compliant. (HSUS has to keep 30 in-house lawyers busy somehow…)

The economic damage has already begun—not only with Prop 2, but with HSUS’s "Buckeye Compromise" in Ohio. So what’s the moral of the story? Playing defense against HSUS is a sure way to come up empty on the scoreboard.

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