Modesto, Calif. — A poultry producer filed a civil law suit in California seeking specific directions on how to comply with the controversial Prop 2 —a ballot initiative calling for animal welfare improvements on the farm by 2015.
Passage of Prop 2 created the California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which banned small cages for egg-laying hens and other farm animals. The new law requires cage sizes big enough to allow hens the ability to lie down, stand up, turn around freely and fully extend their limbs. The new law, backed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and passed by 63 percent of California voters, did not, however, offer specific dimensions on what size cages would be sufficient.
Therefore, J.S. West, a Modesto-area poultry farmer that manages about 1.8 million laying hens, wants clarification on how to comply with the new law. In fact, the company contends it already spent millions converting some of its facilities to a new cage system in June 2010 to meet the requirements of Prop 2. But before more money is spent, the company filed the civil suit Dec. 8 against the state of California and HSUS in Fresno County Superior Court.
"We are disappointed that J.S. West has filed a lawsuit rather than working cooperatively with the state to implement the basic animal welfare standards of Proposition 2," says Jennifer Fearing, HSUS's senior state director for California. "J.S. West should spend its time and money converting its operations to satisfy this simple mandate."
No hearing dates were scheduled in the case at press time.