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Does 'liberty' mean cage free?

RADFORD, Va. -- The "Livestock liberty" cover story (Agweek, Feb. 20) was well written. Thank you. We moved out of California a year and a half ago because the state is just simply out of control.

A few quick thoughts: Articles such as this keep pointing to California when they talk about sweeping changes for egg-laying hens, but keep failing to mention a few key points. After Proposition 2 passed, larger operations began investing millions of dollars into converting parts of their operations to enriched cage systems. The Humane Society of the United States came in and said, "No, the new law means cage free. You just wasted a lot of money."

According to HSUS, the only way to meet the requirements of Proposition 2 is to go entirely cage free.

The state of California can't seem to figure out how to interpret the standards, either -- or even who is in charge of them anymore because the new law is so vague (intentionally) that it has to go to court.

A second point: There was, and still is, no shortage of cage-free or free-roaming hens in California markets. If consumers really wanted eggs produced this way, they would be buying them. They aren't. The percentages for egg sales haven't changed by so much as 1 percent since Proposition 2 passed.

All these people who voted and claimed they were doing it because chickens needed the room still are failing to buy eggs produced this way. What does that tell you? It's pretty simple: The majority of consumers don't want the higher-priced, alternatively produced eggs, no matter how they were talked into voting.

If it really meant that much to them, why wait four years when they are only permitted to buy cage-free eggs? Why aren't they buying them now?

Editor's Note: Romeo owns Black Knight Akitas and Bernese Mountain Dogs of Radford, Va.