November 2018 Editorial

Written By: Tawny Tesconi, Executive Director
Published: November 2, 2018

Enough is enough. When are the zealots going to stop harassing farmers about farming practices in our state?

Proposition 12 goes too far. Once again, the Humane Society is trying to grab headlines and get donations by airing old footage of animals in less than ideal confinement situations. Their propaganda is exaggerated, and they sensationalize their messaging by suggesting that all farm animals are mistreated and that farmers are bad people. Anyone who knows a farmer can tell you that is the farthest from the truth.

A decade ago, the California voters were persuaded to vote for Proposition 2, an ambiguous piece of legislation that dealt with animal confinement, particularly with caged birds. It was so poorly written and superficial in intent, that it took until 2013 to develop specifications to give producers the guidelines needed to get into compliance with the intent of the legislation.
Farmers have barely had enough time to react to Proposition 2 and now they may have to contend with the changes brought forth with Proposition 12.

For the poultry industry, the result of Proposition 2 was a significant drop in egg production. In 2007, California farmers produced 5.3 billion eggs and by 2016 production had dropped by about a third. For those farmers who were able to stay in business, it cost $250 million to modify their hen houses. It also resulted in a drastic increase in egg prices.

Not only will Proposition 12 have an impact on the poultry industry, but it also will play havoc with the veal and hog markets.

Economist Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Davis Agriculture Issue Center, predicts that if Proposition 12 passes, the price of some type of eggs will increase by as much as 50 percent and the price of veal and pork could escalate by 20 percent. In a state that has the most citizens below the national poverty line, is this potential legislation necessary?

Luckily, as part of the clean-up of Proposition 2, an accessory bill was affected that required out of state eggs to meet the same requirements as eggs originating in California. Missouri and other states filed a lawsuit in Federal Court claiming the law was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. They lost their suit, but an appeal has been filed with the Supreme Court. I can only assume that if Proposition 12 passes, the other states will ramp up their effort to claim “fowl” and our local farmers could be put at a significant disadvantage.

Consumers have a choice and can shop based on their values. Free range food products are sold by almost all the largest food chains. Albeit these products are higher-priced than conventional, allowing the consumers to use their pocketbooks to choose how their food is farmed will allow prices to stay at a level that all consumers can afford.

Unfortunately, very little is being done by our industry to oppose Proposition 12. This lack of resistance, combined with the sensationalistic ads resonating on the heartstrings of the voters, makes it likely that our farmers will be faced with even more restrictive legislation to comply with by 2022.

Enough is enough. Support farming, support our local producers and spread the word. Vote “no” on Proposition 12.

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