Cage-Free Egg LawsChickens get a bad rap and -- in most cases -- they live very difficult and painful lives in tiny cages with barely enough room to breathe. As many readers of this blog know, that is not the half of it. Chickens are literally tortured for their eggs and meat every single day of their existences. Whether or not this is "just" or "humane" is up for debate, but new laws will soon go into effect in California that will dramatically improve the living conditions of egg-laying hens in the state.

The people of California have spoken: Hens deserve a better quality of life and they are willing to pay for it. A recent poll conducted by the Humane Society of the United States indicates that 78 percent of Californians believe it is more humane for hens to be raised in cage-free facilities as opposed to the 9 percent who feel it is humane to keep them in cages. Meanwhile, 62 percent of Californians say that they would prefer to frequent businesses that only use and sell cage-free eggs as opposed to other businesses that use eggs produced in cages. The state's population is also willing to put its money where its mouth is: 58 percent of Californians say that they would pay more money for cage-free eggs as opposed to the caged variety.

Hens Can Look up to Arnold Schwarzenegger as Hero

The poll relates to a bill known as Proposition 2, which California residents approved with a vote of 63.5 percent in favor and 36.5 percent opposed in November 2008. A complementary measure was later passed by the California Assembly and Senate and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. The bill gave egg producers until Jan. 1, 2015, to comply with regulations requiring improved living standards for their hens. Incredibly, the hen-saving measure was the most voted on ballot initiative in all of American history. The Humane Society's poll seems to show that, over the last 6 years, support for the laws has grown in the state.

As a result of the new laws, beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, eggs sold in the state of California need to be produced in accordance with the farm animal welfare standards established in Proposition 2. These standards say that hens must be able to lie down, freely turn around, extend their limbs and stand up. Additionally, all eggs must be found in compliance with the state's egg safety rules.

What Do You Think About Cage-Free Egg Laws?

Clearly, there are pluses and minuses to consider in the cage-free egg dilemma. For one, in traditional egg-producing environments, chickens are being subjected to frighteningly harsh conditions in order to affordably produce the eggs we enjoy for nominal production costs. Meanwhile, cage-free egg-producing environments are exceedingly more kind to the hens; however, they are also more expensive for egg farmers to maintain -- meaning that the consumer will foot the bill. Do you believe that it is worth the extra money, and would you want to pay more, if it meant that your eggs and the eggs of your fellow citizens must be produced in cage-free environments?