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Sunday, January 31, 2010

UCSC Postpones Cage-Free Policy

After Prop. 2 passed, banning battery-cage egg production in the state, UC-Santa Cruz senior Eric Deardorff and his group Banana Slugs for Animals approached dining services about making it campus-wide policy to serve only cage-free eggs. As of this fall, it appeared that talks with Director of Dining Services Scott Berlin were going extremely well.

“Back in early October, he told us, ‘Hey, I have great news, we’re going to make the switch to all cage-free liquid eggs.’ That’s about 90 percent of egg use on campus,” says Deardorff. “We said, ‘That’s fantastic.’”

The new egg policy was supposed to go into effect sometime in early January, but the weeks began to pass with no announcement from the university. Then about two weeks ago, Deardorff says he learned second-hand that the deal had been scrapped. “We said, ‘OK, we’re going to finally bring this issue to the campus community,” he says. “We want to get the issue out there because of these broken promises.”

So two weeks ago he launched http://www.CageFreeUCSC.com to collect signatures on a petition urging UCSC dining to follow through with its cage-free plan, and says future campus leafleting and action is in the works. “We want to show Dining Services that this is something there is demand for. Most people don’t know that [UC] Santa Cruz hasn’t made this change,” he says.

Director Berlin confirms that changes were set to go into effect in January, but he says an “across the board” 40 percent jump in cage-free egg prices quickly sunk the plan. “The vendor was saying historically they tend to go up in December, January,” Berlin says. He estimates it would cost Dining Services an additional $70,000 a year for cage-free eggs. “We’re a national leader in sustainability, and I’d love to do everything. But a number of people have been laid off this year. How to I justify adding $70,000 in cost when that could be one or two people’s jobs? Do I value chicken more than people? That’s the reality of it.”

Berlin says UCSC is now in the early stages of drafting a UC-systemwide bid for cage-free eggs in order to secure lower prices. “It’s certainly something we want to do. It’s just not something I can pull the trigger on now,” he says.

Meanwhile, Deardorff says he’s already collected over 1,000 signatures from staff, student and faculty on campus. “There’s budget concern through the UC system, but other schools are making these changes,” he says. “It’s time UC Santa Cruz does too.”

Thanks to news.santacruz.com for the hat tip!

posted by CASFS 2006 @ 9:31 PM

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