State

Proposition 2 Debate

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You saw the debate over California's Prop 2 on "Oprah". Undercover video made public this week is giving new ammunition to the supporters of Proposition 2.

If approved by voters next month, Prop 2 would require that hens and pigs only be confined in ways that allows them to turn around and stretch their limbs.

Proposition 2 would ban the use of so-called battery cages ... which house hens at egg farms. We should warn you some of the video you are about to see is disturbing.

This is undercover video an activist group called "Mercy for Animals" says it shot at the Norco Egg Farm in Riverside last month. Proposition 2 supporters say the video shows the cruel conditions suffered by hens which have been stuffed into small cages.

Paul Shapiro said, "Dead birds rotting in cages with live birds that are still laying for human consumption. Blood covered eggs. Workers violently swinging birds around."

But in response, Prop 2 opponent Julie Buckner of "Californians for Safe Food" issued a statement, saying "This video is irresponsible and misleading - and its context and its motives are highly questionable."

"Its not the standard. It's the farthest from the truth ... "

Fresno County Farm Bureau Executive Director Ryan Jacobsen is opposed to Prop 2. During a recent visit to an egg farm in Atwater we saw cages which allowed hens to stand and even flap their wings. Opponents say passage of Proposition 2 would lead to the demise of egg production in California.

Ryan Jacobsen said, "For the most part producers would either have to move out of state or just all the way go out of business. The way this proposition tries to promote the animal welfare actually would have the opposite effect."

Prop 2 supporters say the undercover video shows what it believes to be standard practice at egg farms.

Shapiro said, "This isn't a case of one or two rotten eggs. This is a case of an entire industry using a practice as a standard that is cruel and inhumane."

A Norco spokesman says any employees found to be cruel to the chickens would be fired. Opponents say Prop 2 wouldn't improve the treatment of farm animals. It would only address housing requirements for egg-laying hens.

"We're concerned that if we had to go down this route and we were to no longer have that in-state food supply we would then have to go out of state and out of country in some instances to a food supply that is not as safe."

Egg producers say as a result jobs would be lost and your food prices would also go up.

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