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Posts Tagged: animal welfare

Media outlet takes notice of new ANR council

The University of California issued a news release about a new Animal Welfare Council on May 19. Jim Downing of the Sacramento Bee picked it up, writing in a story published today that "The University of California, hoping to insert itself as a peacemaker, formed a new animal welfare council last month."

Downing's article focused on voters' overwhelming support of Proposition 2 last November, which, among other things, requires farmers to give egg-laying chickens room to spread their wings. However, the story says the battle over hen housing has "only just begun."

The story mentions that:

  • The university is being sued by the Humane Society over what the group says was an industry-biased analysis of Proposition 2 during the campaign.
  • The Human Society is backing Assembly Bill 1437, which would require all eggs sold in the state - not just those produced in the state - be laid by cage-free hens.
  • Farmers are looking at various options for complying with Prop 2, such as a 60-hen "colony" cages used on some farms in Europe.
Posted on Monday, June 22, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Chickens coming home to roost

Kind-hearted Californians resoundingly supported Proposition 2 last November, which, among other things, requires farmers to provide the state's egg-laying hens with room to spread their wings. One of the concerns discussed before its passage - that unaffected producers from other states and Mexico will flood the California market with their cheaper eggs - would be mitigated by passage of Assembly Bill 1437, according to a Sacramento Bee story, which also appeared in the Merced Sun-Star.

The proposed law, which passed in the Assembly by a 65-12 vote, was written by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. It is likely to be heard next in the Senate Food and Agriculture Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, one of Huffman's co-authors on the bill, the story said.

The new law would require that all eggs sold in California be from cage-free hens. Reporter Jim Downing contacted the director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, Dan Sumner, for perspective on the prospective regulation.

Cage-free systems add a penny or two to the cost of producing an egg, according to a UC study last year titled Economic Effects of Proposed Restrictions on Egg-Laying Hen Housing in California. However, the retail cost of a dozen cage-free eggs is currently about $1 more than conventionally produced eggs. "If cage-free eggs were the only type available in California, that spread would likely narrow to roughly the difference in production costs," Downing paraphrased Sumner.

Posted on Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Sen. Florez begins efforts to improve animal welfare

California State Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter) has introduced a bill that would ban the practice of docking dairy cow tails, according to a story in Capital Press.  Calling the practice of severing cows' tails unnecessary and cruel, Florez said that the new bill is a good place for him to start in efforts to make animal welfare in agriculture a central issue.

Florez is chair of the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture. According to the story, he decided to focus on animal welfare issues after the overwhelming voter approval in November of Proposition 2, which bars veal crates, battery cages, sow gestation crates and any enclosure that prevents animals from turning around, standing up or spreading their wings.

". . . We're very, very focused on trying to figure out what are the animal welfare issues that we have ignored for so many decades here in California," Florez was quoted.

At a press conference last week, Florez said tail docking tends to accompany higher-volume production and depressed market conditions. Reporter Wes Sander spoke to UC Cooperative Extension dairy farm advisor Noelia Silva-del-Rio for her perspective on tail docking.

The story said Silva-del-Rio is conducting a study that so far suggests that 89 percent of the state's dairies do not dock tails and 86 percent of dairy cows are in non-docking operations. The preliminary data has come from Tulare, Kings, Kern and Fresno counties, the article said.

Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 1:32 PM
Tags: advocacy (4), animal welfare (14), dairy (31)

Media turns to UC for egg industry information

As media outlets begin to analyze the impact of Proposition 2's passage, they are turning to UC for information.

The headline of the Los Angeles Times story - "Prop. 2 probably won't hike egg prices" - is based on the report by the UC Agricultural Issues Center about the potential impact of implementing the provisions of Proposition 2. The article, written by reporter Carla Hall, says egg prices probably won't go up because out-of-state farmers, who already supply a third of Californians' eggs -- and could provide more -- are not affected by the new law, so they won't have to change their housing.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an Associated Press analysis of Proposition 2. It quoted the UC Ag Issues Center report in noting that the new law will be felt largely by the state's egg farmers, whose production last year was valued at $337 million.

The Chronicle article predicted that uncertainty about how Proposition 2 will be enforced means that fights lie ahead over how much room "factory farm animals" should be provided.

UC Riverside poultry specialist emeritus Don Bell was quoted in the AP story about the measure's economic impact.

"It will be the loss of an entire industry in California," he said, according to reporter Samantha Young.

Egg industry faces change.
Egg industry faces change.

Posted on Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 10:29 AM
Tags: animal welfare (14), eggs (23), public policy (29)

UC ANR in the post-election news

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is in the news today. For example, UPI ran a story about a UC Davis study that determined daily consumption of vegetable juice is an effective way for people to increase their vegetable intake. AgAlert released an article about a UC Riverside scientist's conclusion that fertilizer savings make growing a cowpea cover crop of value even to non-organic farmers.

These are important developments, but somehow it doesn't seem right to go into the details on the day following what has been described as a "momentous" and "historic" election.

For several months, this blog has documented the many UC Cooperative Extension and other ANR comments in the media on Proposition 2, however today, with so many races to cover, the media have so far left UC experts silent on the lopsided victory. (With 95 percent of precincts reporting, the proposition is winning by a 26 percent margin, according to the LA Times.)

Two opponents of the measure have released statements about the proposition's passage. The American Veterinary Medical Association said veterinarians should be included in implementing the new animal welfare standards. Californians For SAFE Food commented mainly on the mechanics of the election in its statement and concluded:

"The special interest group that pushed Prop 2 will now go back to Washington, and leave it to California's farmers, veterinarians, regulators and lawyers to interpret what this poorly-conceived and vaguely-worded initiative actually means for the real people it affects."

The campaign manager for Yes on Prop 2 noted in a statement that proponents have built an "army of the kind" in California.

"Let’s not stop now. Let’s build on this victory," she wrote.

Contented chicken.
Contented chicken.

Posted on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 11:07 AM
Tags: animal welfare (14), eggs (23)

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