California’s Proposition 2 — deftly profiled by Carol Ness — passed in a landslide on Tuesday.

The new law is simple and hardly earth-shaking; it requires that "calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens, and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely."

In other words, you can still cage farm animals, but you have to give them minimal room to move around. And it doesn’t go into effect until 2015.

Yet industrial-farming interests are squawking like hens about to lay a huge egg. That the industry finds such a commonsense requirement intolerable reveals just how dependent it is on imposing cramped conditions. The backlash against Prop. 2 also betrays a (very encouraging) fear that California’s code will go nationwide.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The American Farm Bureau — the "Voice of [Industrial] Agriculture" — "expressed disappointment" about the passage of the measure, fretting that it would spell the end of the state’s egg and pork industries.

The National Pork Producers went so far as to "decry" the measure, complaining bitterly that "animal-rights groups were successful in vilifying honest, hardworking farmers and ranchers who treat their animals humanely and provide them a safe, healthy environment in which to grow.” Ha!

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.