Eggs are going to get costlier in the US this year.
A new law – backed by animal rights activists – is set to hit the Golden State and other neighbouring regions. It requires poultry farmers to put hens in larger, more open spaces that can give them more room to stretch their wings and move around.
Since California is the largest consumer and importer of eggs in the United States, farmers will now have to pass on the cost of cage overhauls and revamped henhouses to customers.
Egg prices are expected to go up 15 percent with the cost of a dozen eggs rising by 27 cents. A family of four could end up paying $15.93 more annually on eggs alone, according to a report cited by The Associated Press.
Egg prices have already started going up in anticipation of the law, which was framed and approved by voters in 2008. At that time, it was agreed that the law would come into effect in 2015. In 2010, state legislators passed a companion bill that required other states to comply with the law.
Farmers from neighbouring states like Illinois and Iowa are upset about California's new cage law. They say that the law is more than just an animal rights protection bill, as millions of dollars are at stake here.
If a farmer reduces the number of hens in his far, the supply of eggs could go down drastically that would also result in a sharp uptick in prices, AP reports.
Also, some experts say the law won't help the chicken because when you put the birds in an open space they are more likely to run around and break a wing or a leg.
"You're not going to help the chicken. You're not helping consumers," Ken Klippen, a member of the National Association of Egg Farmers was quoted by AP as saying.
Animal rights activists argue that farmers have just whiled away their time instead of making changes.
"Egg producers have had six years to come into compliance with Prop. 2, and instead of using that time to convert to cage-free systems, they've simply sued and sued and lost every suit they filed while sitting on their hands," Paul Shapiro, vice president for farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States was quoted by The Los Angeles Times.
We Don't Mind Paying As Long As the Hens are Comfortable!
Consumer reaction to the impending price hike hasn't been very extreme. In fact, most don't mind paying more than $4 for a dozen eggs.
"I'm already paying $4 for a dozen eggs. But I'd pay a lot more if it guarantees decent living conditions for the chickens laying them," one comment on Gawker read.
"I think it's a good idea... the way they raise some of the animals and the farming, it's a little inhumane," Pat Tyson, a resident of Glendale told ABC Los Angeles.
Some want the best of both worlds though.
"I think chickens should have more room, but I think we shouldn't have our prices raised," Sandra Bay, a resident of San Bruno, told the channel.