US egg industry, animal groups continue push for laying hen welfare
Amendment to Farm Bill would provide more housing space, other improvements
The United Egg Producers and The Humane Society of the United States are continuing their call for the U.S. Senate to pass an amendment to the Farm Bill that would require egg producers to essentially double the living space allotted per laying hen and make other animal welfare improvements during a tiered phase-in period that would allow farmers time to make the investments in better housing, with the assurance that all would face the same requirements by the end of the phase-in period.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein has filed the amendment, No. 2252, with a bipartisan list of cosponsors. Her proposal is identical to S. 3239 and its House companion, H.R. 3798, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012. "The Farm Bill is a perfect opportunity to enact a national standard which is important to the egg industry, improve the lives of animals and protect family farmers and agricultural jobs,” said Gene Gregory, president of the United Egg Producers.
The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 would:
- require conventional cages to be replaced during an ample phase-in period with new, enriched colony housing systems that provide each egg-laying hen nearly double the amount of current space
- require that, after a phase-in period, all egg-laying hens be provided with environmental enrichments such as perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas that will allow hens to express natural behaviors
- require labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs: “eggs from caged hens,” “eggs from hens in enriched cages,” “eggs from cage-free hens” and “eggs from free-range hens”
- prohibit feed- or water-withdrawal molting to extend the laying cycle, a practice already prohibited by the United Egg Producers Certified program
- require standards approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association for euthanasia of egg-laying hens
- prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses
- prohibit the transport and sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these requirements
The proposal would require egg producers to incrementally increase the amount of space hens are given over the next 15 to 18 years.