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    Rumors were flying last week that the Farm Bill might finally be making progress in Congress, but lawmakers left for the holiday break still split over cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), squashing hopes of a final agreement before the year’s out.

    We’ve talked about why the Farm Bill is important to San Diego, and how cuts to the SNAP program will impact our city; and explained how for the very first time, we have a San Diego lawmaker sitting at the table during these negotiations, but there’s yet another way what happens to the Farm Bill could end up impacting your breakfast table.

    Clare Leschin-Hoar LogoIt turns out California’s egg law is at the center of some important negotiations thanks to a controversial amendment being proposed by an equally controversial Iowa lawmaker.

    Rep. Steve King, (the one who grabbed headlines this summer when he ranted about illegal immigrants who have “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert”) is determined to slip language into the Farm Bill that would prevent California from implementing its own egg law. Should the amendment go through, it could have painful ramifications for San Diego County farmers.

    Scheduled to go in effect in 2015, California’s law that mandates that farm animals, including egg-laying hens have enough room to spread their wings, turn around and lie down. It also protects California egg farmers by keeping out eggs produced in other states, like Iowa (surprise!) that use intensive, less expensive animal practices — like battery gages, where several hens are housed in the same cage, often without the ability to spread their wings or exhibit other natural behaviors like nesting or perching.

    “We have about a dozen commercial egg producers in the county,” said Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. “While that doesn’t sound like an impressive number, in 2012 they produced 70,071 dozen eggs at a total wholesale value of $67.2 million.” That makes us one of the top five egg-producing counties in the nation.


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    San Diego County egg producer Frank Hilliker, whose family has been selling eggs in San Diego since 1942, has already gone out and made the investment to convert his hen houses from battery cages to a free range facility, and expects to be compliant with the new law by mid-2014.

    “I had to do something now because I don’t have the resources to change it [to comply] in two months. I had to go out and borrow the money,” he said. “This is a huge expense. We’re a small family business.”

    The language in King’s amendment is vague: “Prohibition against interference by state and local governments with production or manufacture of items in other states.”

    In plain English, it means King wants to ensure that cheaper Iowa eggs can be sold in California, where our own growers are required to comply with regulations that make production more expensive. But many are concerned King’s amendment will have a ripple effect that would lead to legal challenges in dozens of other states over food production, food safety and more.

    “The King amendment throws a monkey wrench in the works,” said Larsen. “He’s aiming it at the eggs, but he can’t word the language in there for eggs specifically. So, for example, now if one state agrees to slaughter and sell horse meat, every state has to accept that horse meat from that state even if it’s illegal in their own state.”

    For Hilliker, the real worry is the threat of cheap eggs flooding the California market.

    “If they let any eggs in from any place else that doesn’t play by our rules, it will make an uneven playing field, and the voters who passed Prop. 2 won’t be getting what they wanted,” said Hilliker.

    The Association of California Egg Farmers agrees with Hilliker, and is working with California lawmakers to prevent that language from being inserted into the bill.

    “There are egg producers in other states that already comply with California’s egg law in order to sell eggs here now,” said Debbie Murdock, spokesperson for the association. “We’re not requiring them to do anything that we’re not doing ourselves. But we are concerned about this. You never know what will happen when they negotiate a farm bill.”

      This article relates to: Active Voice, Food, News

      Written by Clare Leschin-Hoar

      Clare Leschin-Hoar is a contributor to Voice of San Diego. Follow her on Twitter @c_leschin or email her clare@leschin-hoar.com.

      52 comments
      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      Well it appears Mike was on target with the interstate commerce side of this argument
      http://finance.yahoo.com/news/missouri-ag-challenges-california-egg-law-234816554--finance.htmlMissouri AG challenges California egg lawhttp://finance.yahoo.com/news/missouri-ag-challenges-california-egg-law-234816554--finance.htmlJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's attorney general has asked a federal court to strike down a California law regulating the living conditions of chickens, setting up a cross-country battle that pits new animal protections against the economic int...

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      California won out it for now it appears.
      " and dropped language that would have thwarted a California law requiring all eggs sold in the state to come from hens living in larger cages. Striking out that provision was a priority for California lawmakers who did not want to see the state law changed."
      http://news.yahoo.com/house-passes-farm-bill-crop-subsidies-preserved-160851903--finance.htmlHouse passes farm bill, crop subsidies preservedhttp://news.yahoo.com/house-passes-farm-bill-crop-subsidies-preserved-160851903--finance.htmlWASHINGTON (AP) - The House has passed an almost $100 billion-a-year, compromise farm bill that would make small cuts to food stamps and continue generous subsidies for the nation's farmers. The vote was 251-166. The five-year bill now goes to the Se...

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin

      http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/dec/03/california-lawmakers-want-amendment-farm-bill-remo/California Lawmakers Want Amendment To Farm Bill Removedhttp://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/dec/03/california-lawmakers-want-amendment-farm-bill-remo/Aired 12/3/13 A bipartisan group of California lawmakers is asking Congressional leaders to remove an amendment to the federal Farm Bill. Opponents say the "King Amendment" would nullify dozens of California laws that regulate food and animal welfare...

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/dec/03/california-lawmakers-want-amendment-farm-bill-remo/California Lawmakers Want Amendment To Farm Bill Removedhttp://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/dec/03/california-lawmakers-want-amendment-farm-bill-remo/Aired 12/3/13 A bipartisan group of California lawmakers is asking Congressional leaders to remove an amendment to the federal Farm Bill. Opponents say the "King Amendment" would nullify dozens of California laws that regulate food and animal welfare...

      Matt Finish
      Matt Finish

      “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert”

      I've always had skinny calves, now I know how to beef them up.

      Attn SDPD: If you see a guy with a huge bag of pot running in circles, please don't shoot. I'm just working out. Thank you.

      Matt Finish
      Matt Finish subscriber

      “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert”

      I've always had skinny calves, now I know how to beef them up.

      Attn SDPD: If you see a guy with a huge bag of pot running in circles, please don't shoot. I'm just working out. Thank you.

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      Excellent post Mike.

      Mike
      Mike

      We should thank Clare for this report because eggs are used in just about everything from cookie dough to burritos. Many of us also like it sunny side up. The risk of illness is significant if and when contaminated eggs are brought into the market. Weeks can pass between the first sign of illness and a nationwide recall due to insufficient testing standards and the inherent difficulty in assigning blame to a food-borne illness. During that time, hundreds if not thousands of more people can get sick and the contaminated eggs can spread like wildfire. So, before any of us go criticizing the heavy-handed nature of either federal or state heath departments, let's not forget this is actually a much more serious issue than it might appear on first glance.

      Let's also not forget what happened in 2010 (why do we all have such short memories when it comes to politics?). Wright County Eggs of -- you guessed it -- Iowa recalled half a billion eggs due to Salmonella contamination. The head of the company, Jack DeCoster, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of animal cruelty including "too many birds in a case." The CNN article below described his chicken-raising methods as "these birds that are crammed together, basically defacating on top of other birds." So keep in mind, the "cost" of something we eat isn't as simple as looking at the store price. The "real cost" depends on what's really in the food we eat and how it can help/hurt us in the long run. Certain politicians are intent on keeping us misinformed or under-informed for their own political gains. Oh by the way, investigations later found the owner of the company knew about the contamination and what his methods would cause from private testing he conducted but never disclosed that information or changed his methods.

      http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/20/eggs.recall.salmonella/Half a billion eggs have been recalledhttp://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/20/eggs.recall.salmonella/The Egg Safety Center has a complete list of recalled eggs, their expiration dates, and brands. Check the situation in your state. Here are safety tips. (CNN) -- The number of eggs recalled in a nationwide salmonella scare has grown to more than half...

      Mike
      Mike

      I'm suggesting stuff produced to the minimum required standards are less safe than stuff produced by those who go above and beyond the minimum requirements. I'm also suggesting proposals made by Steve King are not to be trusted.

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin

      Mike. Are you suggesting that all eggs from Iowa, or elsewhere, are unsafe?

      Mike
      Mike

      Repeating your tired old talking points doesn't help your flawed logic and doesn't contribute to a healthy debate. It just seems desperate. Maybe you should spend less time trolling websites and more time studying history. Go back to your good ol' days before child labor laws, before controlling acid rain, before the FDA. Were those the days you dream about living in? If today's regulations are too draconian for you, try not to enjoy the clean water you drink so much and don't savor the safe food you eat either. Just act real mad the next time you go swimming in the clean ocean ok? It's people like you who hinder progress while hiding behind a mask of your distorted sense of freedom. It's sad that today's laws are not as effective as they should be because of people like you in congress, but I'm glad CA can move forward without being dragged down by you. If you hate it here so much, Steve King may have some room in his state for you.

      Mike
      Mike

      This "misrepresentation" that you claim is entirely your opinion. The cage size issue was a result of investigations by the relevant authorities. You can take it up with them if you don't like their conclusions. My concept of free choice includes things like good food versus better food; tasty food versus bland food. It doesn't involve safe food versus deadly food. Everything varies in quality (and cost), but everything sold to you and me must meet a basic level of safety. That's where the FAA, the EPA, and the health department comes in. Those products that don't meet the basic level shouldn't be on the market despite their claims for low cost (or any other claim). These cheap eggs produced by subpar methods that you hold so dear are no exception.

      With regard to interstate commerce, CA has had stricter car emissions standards for many years. Just about every state has their own health insurance laws. Texas won't let Tesla sell cars there. There are many more examples of states setting their own rules to do what they think is best for their own state. Manufacturers work to conform to those rules and the universe hasn't collapsed yet. Steve King's rhetoric on this topic shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone who is a cognoscente of his brand of politics.

      You keep bringing up prices as if it's a certainty prices will go up to an unaffordable level. I guess you'll just have to start tracking egg prices to prove yourself right about the whole "making the poor pay more" stuff. I'm not sure what's going to happen there, but not getting sick should probably count as a "cost savings."

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      "My concept of free choice includes things like good food versus better food"

      Funny, but my concept of free choice is actual free choice.

      Eggs raised under USDA standards DO meet "a basic level of safety", so out of state eggs meet your requirements for that hurdle. Whew! Good thing we cleared that up!

      As far as interstate commerce, guess what? I brought three different non California cars into the state, and the universe didn't collapse, so since your main worry now seems to be the collapse of the universe, rest assured that out of state eggs won't cause that.

      The federal government has every legal and moral right to override California on this, and really all the big government California progressives should celebrate it if they do, it it fits their concept of big government mandates, right? If the state can mandate over the farmers wishes, the feds mandating over the state is a victory for the people and the power of socialism, even when it increases free choice.

      Mike
      Mike

      Under Prop 2, the minimum requirement in CA is going above and beyond of the federal standards. Your opinion of risk does not override the facts revealed in the 2010 investigations which found small cage size does increase the safety risk. It may not be the only risk factor and you may well be correct about the mice, but reducing one risk factor is, in my opinion, better than nothing at all. If mice is a bigger factor, then perhaps you'll support new laws to better regulate that issue. And I will support you too.

      You're also correct in saying free choice is a good thing, but it would only work if the choices we have don't include differing levels of health and safety risks. What Steve King has proposed is to force his state's products which pose a higher safety risk into markets where products have a lower safety risk. The cost difference is only speculation for us average consumers for the moment, but assuming you're correct and Steve King's eggs are cheaper. Is that really a good thing for the poor? Do you honestly want to live in a world where the poor can't afford anything except stuff that have a demonstrated risk of making them sick? What CA prop 2 did is to protect people from the elevated safety risk, including the poor. That's not hurting anyone.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      A bare minimum California cage isn't going above and beyond anything, nor is it any safer than a smaller cage, or no cage, as far as the risk of salmonella, which comes primarily from mice.

      The beauty of free choice is that if you want to buy more expensive eggs you can, if you don't you can as well. Mandating expensive (and yes, the changes cost significant money and lower yields) takes away choice and hurts the poor.

      If the price difference is not significant, as you say, then out of state eggs are no problem for you, no one will buy them because the cost saving is insignificant, right?


      Mike
      Mike

      Are you suggesting those 500 million eggs from 2010 are? Have you Googled "california egg recall" lately? Did you find any?

      Mike
      Mike

      What's all this talk about free range? The CA proposition that was passed isn't some sort of extremist measure that forces people to only buy free range chicken with all the latest trendy humane treatments. It just wants the cages to be big enough for the chicken to move around. It's a pretty modest improvement. Like most people, I'm not an extremist when it comes to farming. I understand it's an ugly business but someone has to do it. No one's forcing all the chicken farms to completely revamp everything. Just want the egg-laying hens to be able to get up, stretch, and turn around. Is that so much to ask for your liking? Egg prices aren't going to skyrocket because of a modest change like that. Your talk about free range chickens is completely irrelevant. The Farm Bill and the CA prop did not address that subject.

      I don't think I'm using a scare tactic when Wright County Eggs was actually responsible for sickening 62,000 Americans with their bad eggs. It's a fact (reported by the Associated Press just in case CNN is beneath your standards). We should remember historical facts when making decisions to better our future. Those of us who didn't want to be sick back then looked at all the labels on the egg cartons when we went shopping, and we were glad they were produced here in CA and not Iowa. Your claim that I'm "attacking" your sources doesn't really make your logic any better. Your logic is still flawed and your sources are still weak. The subject of the above article regarding the Farm Bill is about an Iowa congressman who's trying to change the bill to better suit his corporate backers' needs. Iowa's egg production standards, as demonstrated recently in the massive recall, is not up to par. He can argue all he wants, but the people of CA have decided we prefer higher standards. It's within our state's rights to do that. Those advocating for state rights should consider Steve King's actions an intrusion on our state. By the way, Steve King has had a long history of saying (and doing) ridiculous things on a variety of subjects. You should be careful of who you choose to defend Jim.

      Mike
      Mike

      The support you cite is weak, at best, to anyone who reads the full articles. The Michael Foods problem involving Listeria is from contaminated packaging of cooked eggs. It had nothing to do with raw eggs which is what the Farm Bill is dealing with. Besides, that factory is in Minnesota...not CA. Aren't you glad you didn't eat one of those unknowingly? Your 2nd article is about a Taiwanese study...again, not CA. Aren't you glad you didn't eat one of those either? The study from that article states free-range chickens carry more pollutants than caged. So now aren't you glad CA has one of the strictest pollution laws in the US? The Farm Bill's subject of debate here is not about free-range vs. cages. It's about cage size and animal mobility. So the pollution study you cite isn't really relevant. Your 3rd source is from a notoriously right-wing magazine that bashes all progressive movements and the author cites his quotes from online forums and anecdotes. Even then, he admits at the end that whatever problems may happen at smaller farms using more humane methods, the chickens aren't better off jammed in a cage in a shed.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      Ah yes, standard tactics Mike, scare factor, misinformation, then attack the source. It's laughable that you attack Forbes as right wing when your cite is CNN. No bias there, LOL.

      Free range is not safer, it probably isn't any better for the chickens, they get more room, with more climate extremes, more predators, and they still end up in the wood chipper when they stop producing. Animal production is a nasty business, it can't be whitewashed by tossing the hens in the yard.

      There are dozens of studies, many conflicting, but free range isn't safer. A closed system is always more controllable, Whether it gets controlled is in the hands of the producer and free range producers can be just as greedy and cut corners as factory, and it's easier for them.

      And in the end it really is choice. A producer that produces 30 million eggs a day factory style got 1500 people sick from a 500 million batch of contaminated eggs? Pretty darn good odds. How many people got sick off the thousands of free range producers over a similar output number? Probably the same or more, but when it's a much longer time and many more producers those numbers don't get noticed.

      Mice spread salmonella to chickens, are free range chickens less likely to interact with mice? No.

      Cook your food, wash your hands, etc... is my advice, and decide for yourself. Don't let someone else's armchair morality and baseless scare tactics force you to overpay for eggs that in the end are no safer or healthier.



      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      And in 2012, Michael Foods, which is a so called "ethical" animal product company also had an egg problem.

      Free range isn't a safer egg or a healthier egg, In fact a well run factory egg is safer, because the controls are easier to enforce.

      There are problems with DeCoster, mostly the public union food inspectors not doing their job, allowing an uninspected feed facility to supply his feed, but if these inspectors won't do what we we pay them a lot to do at one large farm, how are they going to track hundreds of smaller farms? The only advantage with free range is 10's of people get sick instead of hundreds or thousands from each individual producer, not enough to make the news. The overall individual risk is the same, or slightly higher wiith free range.

      Don't let scare tactics and falsehoods let you believe free range is healthier or safer, and more importantly, don't impose your morality on others, let the consumer decide what they are comfortable with.

      The California law is likely not going to stand up to free trade regulations regardless. What it may do is open up a huge influx of Mexican eggs.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmcwilliams/2013/10/23/small-free-range-egg-producers-cant-escape-problems-of-factory-farms/

      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/06/free-range-eggs-contaminated-with-dioxins.html

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/egg-recall-in-34-states-over-listeria-concerns-full-details/Egg recall in 34 states over Listeria concerns: Full detailshttp://www.cbsnews.com/news/egg-recall-in-34-states-over-listeria-concerns-full-details/(CBS/AP) Michael Foods, a Minnesota-based food company, is recalling more than one million hard-cooked eggs from 34 states, after tests revealed some may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. PICTURES: Listeria: 7 key questions answer...Free range eggs contain a little something extra: pollutantshttp://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/06/free-range-eggs-contaminated-with-dioxins.htmlHere's some disconcerting news for health-conscious eaters who favor eggs from free-range hens: A Taiwanese study found that the eggs contain much higher levels of industrial pollutants than eggs laid by caged hens. The researchers focused on two typ...Small, Free-Range Egg Producers Can't Escape Problems Of Factory Farmshttp://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmcwilliams/2013/10/23/small-free-range-egg-producers-cant-escape-problems-of-factory-farms/Conscientious consumers often assume that eggs sourced from small farms are eggs that are immune to the problems facing factory farms. This is not always the case. Pastured hens raised on small farms commonly suffer from predation, disease, welfare a...

      Mike
      Mike subscriber

      We should thank Clare for this report because eggs are used in just about everything from cookie dough to burritos. Many of us also like it sunny side up. The risk of illness is significant if and when contaminated eggs are brought into the market. Weeks can pass between the first sign of illness and a nationwide recall due to insufficient testing standards and the inherent difficulty in assigning blame to a food-borne illness. During that time, hundreds if not thousands of more people can get sick and the contaminated eggs can spread like wildfire. So, before any of us go criticizing the heavy-handed nature of either federal or state heath departments, let's not forget this is actually a much more serious issue than it might appear on first glance.

      Let's also not forget what happened in 2010 (why do we all have such short memories when it comes to politics?). Wright County Eggs of -- you guessed it -- Iowa recalled half a billion eggs due to Salmonella contamination. The head of the company, Jack DeCoster, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of animal cruelty including "too many birds in a case." The CNN article below described his chicken-raising methods as "these birds that are crammed together, basically defacating on top of other birds." So keep in mind, the "cost" of something we eat isn't as simple as looking at the store price. The "real cost" depends on what's really in the food we eat and how it can help/hurt us in the long run. Certain politicians are intent on keeping us misinformed or under-informed for their own political gains. Oh by the way, investigations later found the owner of the company knew about the contamination and what his methods would cause from private testing he conducted but never disclosed that information or changed his methods.

      http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/20/eggs.recall.salmonella/Half a billion eggs have been recalledhttp://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/20/eggs.recall.salmonella/The Egg Safety Center has a complete list of recalled eggs, their expiration dates, and brands. Check the situation in your state. Here are safety tips. (CNN) -- The number of eggs recalled in a nationwide salmonella scare has grown to more than half...

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      A bare minimum California cage isn't going above and beyond anything, nor is it any safer than a smaller cage, or no cage, as far as the risk of salmonella, which comes primarily from mice.

      The beauty of free choice is that if you want to buy more expensive eggs you can, if you don't you can as well. Mandating expensive (and yes, the changes cost significant money and lower yields) takes away choice and hurts the poor.

      If the price difference is not significant, as you say, then out of state eggs are no problem for you, no one will buy them because the cost saving is insignificant, right?


      Mike
      Mike subscriber

      Are you suggesting those 500 million eggs from 2010 are? Have you Googled "california egg recall" lately? Did you find any?

      Mike
      Mike subscriber

      I'm suggesting stuff produced to the minimum required standards are less safe than stuff produced by those who go above and beyond the minimum requirements. I'm also suggesting proposals made by Steve King are not to be trusted.

      Mike
      Mike subscriber

      Repeating your tired old talking points doesn't help your flawed logic and doesn't contribute to a healthy debate. It just seems desperate. Maybe you should spend less time trolling websites and more time studying history. Go back to your good ol' days before child labor laws, before controlling acid rain, before the FDA. Were those the days you dream about living in? If today's regulations are too draconian for you, try not to enjoy the clean water you drink so much and don't savor the safe food you eat either. Just act real mad the next time you go swimming in the clean ocean ok? It's people like you who hinder progress while hiding behind a mask of your distorted sense of freedom. It's sad that today's laws are not as effective as they should be because of people like you in congress, but I'm glad CA can move forward without being dragged down by you. If you hate it here so much, Steve King may have some room in his state for you.

      Mike
      Mike subscriber

      This "misrepresentation" that you claim is entirely your opinion. The cage size issue was a result of investigations by the relevant authorities. You can take it up with them if you don't like their conclusions. My concept of free choice includes things like good food versus better food; tasty food versus bland food. It doesn't involve safe food versus deadly food. Everything varies in quality (and cost), but everything sold to you and me must meet a basic level of safety. That's where the FAA, the EPA, and the health department comes in. Those products that don't meet the basic level shouldn't be on the market despite their claims for low cost (or any other claim). These cheap eggs produced by subpar methods that you hold so dear are no exception.

      With regard to interstate commerce, CA has had stricter car emissions standards for many years. Just about every state has their own health insurance laws. Texas won't let Tesla sell cars there. There are many more examples of states setting their own rules to do what they think is best for their own state. Manufacturers work to conform to those rules and the universe hasn't collapsed yet. Steve King's rhetoric on this topic shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone who is a cognoscente of his brand of politics.

      You keep bringing up prices as if it's a certainty prices will go up to an unaffordable level. I guess you'll just have to start tracking egg prices to prove yourself right about the whole "making the poor pay more" stuff. I'm not sure what's going to happen there, but not getting sick should probably count as a "cost savings."

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      "My concept of free choice includes things like good food versus better food"

      Funny, but my concept of free choice is actual free choice.

      Eggs raised under USDA standards DO meet "a basic level of safety", so out of state eggs meet your requirements for that hurdle. Whew! Good thing we cleared that up!

      As far as interstate commerce, guess what? I brought three different non California cars into the state, and the universe didn't collapse, so since your main worry now seems to be the collapse of the universe, rest assured that out of state eggs won't cause that.

      The federal government has every legal and moral right to override California on this, and really all the big government California progressives should celebrate it if they do, it it fits their concept of big government mandates, right? If the state can mandate over the farmers wishes, the feds mandating over the state is a victory for the people and the power of socialism, even when it increases free choice.

      Mike
      Mike subscriber

      Under Prop 2, the minimum requirement in CA is going above and beyond of the federal standards. Your opinion of risk does not override the facts revealed in the 2010 investigations which found small cage size does increase the safety risk. It may not be the only risk factor and you may well be correct about the mice, but reducing one risk factor is, in my opinion, better than nothing at all. If mice is a bigger factor, then perhaps you'll support new laws to better regulate that issue. And I will support you too.

      You're also correct in saying free choice is a good thing, but it would only work if the choices we have don't include differing levels of health and safety risks. What Steve King has proposed is to force his state's products which pose a higher safety risk into markets where products have a lower safety risk. The cost difference is only speculation for us average consumers for the moment, but assuming you're correct and Steve King's eggs are cheaper. Is that really a good thing for the poor? Do you honestly want to live in a world where the poor can't afford anything except stuff that have a demonstrated risk of making them sick? What CA prop 2 did is to protect people from the elevated safety risk, including the poor. That's not hurting anyone.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      Saying small cage size increases risks is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. There is no factual basis for such a blanket statement.

      To continue with the concept that free choice can't include "include differing levels of health and safety risks" is frankly indicative of someone with no cognoscente awareness of the real world. Everything we buy as consumers has differing levels of health and safety risks, not just our food but our cars, our housing, everything, with a general trend of higher risk being less cost.

      All eggs have a demonstrated risk of making us sick, even if you produce them yourself in your own yard. To use an iffy premise of extra safety attained primarily by wearing blinders to the real facts to justify an emotionally driven requirement for chickens to have some extra space that can't even be shown to make their lives better is the exact opposite of reason and intellect. Aside from all that, instate and cross border commerce is entirely under federal jurisdiction, the state has no right to interfere, to make the poor pay more to protect local production.

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      Mike. Are you suggesting that all eggs from Iowa, or elsewhere, are unsafe?

      Mike
      Mike subscriber

      What's all this talk about free range? The CA proposition that was passed isn't some sort of extremist measure that forces people to only buy free range chicken with all the latest trendy humane treatments. It just wants the cages to be big enough for the chicken to move around. It's a pretty modest improvement. Like most people, I'm not an extremist when it comes to farming. I understand it's an ugly business but someone has to do it. No one's forcing all the chicken farms to completely revamp everything. Just want the egg-laying hens to be able to get up, stretch, and turn around. Is that so much to ask for your liking? Egg prices aren't going to skyrocket because of a modest change like that. Your talk about free range chickens is completely irrelevant. The Farm Bill and the CA prop did not address that subject.

      I don't think I'm using a scare tactic when Wright County Eggs was actually responsible for sickening 62,000 Americans with their bad eggs. It's a fact (reported by the Associated Press just in case CNN is beneath your standards). We should remember historical facts when making decisions to better our future. Those of us who didn't want to be sick back then looked at all the labels on the egg cartons when we went shopping, and we were glad they were produced here in CA and not Iowa. Your claim that I'm "attacking" your sources doesn't really make your logic any better. Your logic is still flawed and your sources are still weak. The subject of the above article regarding the Farm Bill is about an Iowa congressman who's trying to change the bill to better suit his corporate backers' needs. Iowa's egg production standards, as demonstrated recently in the massive recall, is not up to par. He can argue all he wants, but the people of CA have decided we prefer higher standards. It's within our state's rights to do that. Those advocating for state rights should consider Steve King's actions an intrusion on our state. By the way, Steve King has had a long history of saying (and doing) ridiculous things on a variety of subjects. You should be careful of who you choose to defend Jim.

      Mike
      Mike subscriber

      The support you cite is weak, at best, to anyone who reads the full articles. The Michael Foods problem involving Listeria is from contaminated packaging of cooked eggs. It had nothing to do with raw eggs which is what the Farm Bill is dealing with. Besides, that factory is in Minnesota...not CA. Aren't you glad you didn't eat one of those unknowingly? Your 2nd article is about a Taiwanese study...again, not CA. Aren't you glad you didn't eat one of those either? The study from that article states free-range chickens carry more pollutants than caged. So now aren't you glad CA has one of the strictest pollution laws in the US? The Farm Bill's subject of debate here is not about free-range vs. cages. It's about cage size and animal mobility. So the pollution study you cite isn't really relevant. Your 3rd source is from a notoriously right-wing magazine that bashes all progressive movements and the author cites his quotes from online forums and anecdotes. Even then, he admits at the end that whatever problems may happen at smaller farms using more humane methods, the chickens aren't better off jammed in a cage in a shed.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      Ah yes, standard tactics Mike, scare factor, misinformation, then attack the source. It's laughable that you attack Forbes as right wing when your cite is CNN. No bias there, LOL.

      Free range is not safer, it probably isn't any better for the chickens, they get more room, with more climate extremes, more predators, and they still end up in the wood chipper when they stop producing. Animal production is a nasty business, it can't be whitewashed by tossing the hens in the yard.

      There are dozens of studies, many conflicting, but free range isn't safer. A closed system is always more controllable, Whether it gets controlled is in the hands of the producer and free range producers can be just as greedy and cut corners as factory, and it's easier for them.

      And in the end it really is choice. A producer that produces 30 million eggs a day factory style got 1500 people sick from a 500 million batch of contaminated eggs? Pretty darn good odds. How many people got sick off the thousands of free range producers over a similar output number? Probably the same or more, but when it's a much longer time and many more producers those numbers don't get noticed.

      Mice spread salmonella to chickens, are free range chickens less likely to interact with mice? No.

      Cook your food, wash your hands, etc... is my advice, and decide for yourself. Don't let someone else's armchair morality and baseless scare tactics force you to overpay for eggs that in the end are no safer or healthier.



      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      And in 2012, Michael Foods, which is a so called "ethical" animal product company also had an egg problem.

      Free range isn't a safer egg or a healthier egg, In fact a well run factory egg is safer, because the controls are easier to enforce.

      There are problems with DeCoster, mostly the public union food inspectors not doing their job, allowing an uninspected feed facility to supply his feed, but if these inspectors won't do what we we pay them a lot to do at one large farm, how are they going to track hundreds of smaller farms? The only advantage with free range is 10's of people get sick instead of hundreds or thousands from each individual producer, not enough to make the news. The overall individual risk is the same, or slightly higher wiith free range.

      Don't let scare tactics and falsehoods let you believe free range is healthier or safer, and more importantly, don't impose your morality on others, let the consumer decide what they are comfortable with.

      The California law is likely not going to stand up to free trade regulations regardless. What it may do is open up a huge influx of Mexican eggs.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmcwilliams/2013/10/23/small-free-range-egg-producers-cant-escape-problems-of-factory-farms/

      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/06/free-range-eggs-contaminated-with-dioxins.html

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/egg-recall-in-34-states-over-listeria-concerns-full-details/Egg recall in 34 states over Listeria concerns: Full detailshttp://www.cbsnews.com/news/egg-recall-in-34-states-over-listeria-concerns-full-details/(CBS/AP) Michael Foods, a Minnesota-based food company, is recalling more than one million hard-cooked eggs from 34 states, after tests revealed some may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. PICTURES: Listeria: 7 key questions answer...Free range eggs contain a little something extra: pollutantshttp://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/06/free-range-eggs-contaminated-with-dioxins.htmlHere's some disconcerting news for health-conscious eaters who favor eggs from free-range hens: A Taiwanese study found that the eggs contain much higher levels of industrial pollutants than eggs laid by caged hens. The researchers focused on two typ...Small, Free-Range Egg Producers Can't Escape Problems Of Factory Farmshttp://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmcwilliams/2013/10/23/small-free-range-egg-producers-cant-escape-problems-of-factory-farms/Conscientious consumers often assume that eggs sourced from small farms are eggs that are immune to the problems facing factory farms. This is not always the case. Pastured hens raised on small farms commonly suffer from predation, disease, welfare a...

      MB 1960
      MB 1960

      The problem with the California law designed to protect its domestic egg laying industry is that it places an unconstiitutional commerce barrier against all egg producers in other states who do not comply with California's Prop 2. There is no health or safety reason for the law in question, its only purpose is to attempt protect California egg producers from the economic devastation that the voters of California visited on them when Prop 2 was passed. The horse meat analogy is simply wrong - the ban on horsemeat consumption is a federal ban, not a state by state ban.

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      So the Urbans dictated to the Rurals how they should raise their chickens and the chicken growers had to change their method of raising their fowl if they wanted to stay in business.
      Now that the California Rurals have incurred the expense of going along with the mandate... the Rurals from Iowa want access to this market knowing the consumer will buy their product if they have that access.
      If California wants their Snap then they will have to open their market.
      The Urbans forced their will on the California Rurals but now the Iowa Rurals are pushing back.

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin

      So the Urbans dictated to the Rurals how they should raise their chickens and the chicken growers had to change their method of raising their fowl if they wanted to stay in business.
      Now that the California Rurals have incurred the expense of going along with the mandate... the Rurals from Iowa want access to this market knowing the consumer will buy their product if they have that access.
      If California wants their Snap then they will have to open their market.
      The Urbans forced their will on the California Rurals but now the Iowa Rurals are pushing back.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      My point exactly, all egg farmers should have equal rights to sell me eggs, and none should be discriminated against on the basis of narrow minded people enforcing their idea of chicken raising on other people.

      Thanks for agreeing with me.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      Sorry Travis, but that is no different than the prop 8 choice we made, the government can remedy tyranny of the majority and in this case they should.

      I assume you are one of the people pissed because prop 8 choice of the people was overturned?

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      Consumers should have a choice between paying more for more space for the chickens, or paying less.

      Travis Pritchard
      Travis Pritchard

      If only there was a way to determine which laws voted on were legitimate or unconstitutional. Like some sort of court or something.

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin

      California egg farmers just can't seem to get a break

      David Cohen
      David Cohen

      You have a choice: Buy eggs or don't.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      My point exactly, all egg farmers should have equal rights to sell me eggs, and none should be discriminated against on the basis of narrow minded people enforcing their idea of chicken raising on other people.

      Thanks for agreeing with me.

      Travis Pritchard
      Travis Pritchard

      No, I wasn't upset. I never thought we should have a choice between discrimination and equal rights.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      Sorry Travis, but that is no different than the prop 8 choice we made, the government can remedy tyranny of the majority and in this case they should.

      I assume you are one of the people pissed because prop 8 choice of the people was overturned?

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      Consumers should have a choice between paying more for more space for the chickens, or paying less.

      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      California egg farmers just can't seem to get a break

      David Cohen
      David Cohen subscriber

      You have a choice: Buy eggs or don't.