In one of his last acts as governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that would establish the effective date of requirements that all eggs produced in Michigan come from cage-free laying systems.

The 2009 law that created and phased in new standards for cage-free housing for certain animals would have been effective October 12, 2019. However, Senate Bill 660, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, would change that deadline, requiring cage-free chicken housing to begin Oct. 12, 2025.

The bill, also known as the Animal Industry Act, also would require all eggs sold in Michigan come from cage-free hens in 2025. Additionally, it would extend the deadline for the removal of gestation stalls for sows from October 12, 2019 to April 1, 2020.

Snyder, who leaves office at the conclusion of 2018, vetoed the bill, which is intended to protect the state’s egg producers from being undercut by competition in the future, reported the Detroit News. But the outgoing governor, a Republican, said he didn’t believe that eggs produced in cage-free laying systems had any health or welfare advantages over eggs laid by caged hens.

"The body of research into hen health and egg safety does not provide a clear indication that any one type of hen housing impacts egg safety more than another," Snyder wrote in the veto letter.

The National Association of Egg Farmers had opposed the Michigan legislation and reached out to every legislator in the state in 2018 to explain that trying to legislate cage-free eggs won’t achieve animal welfare and food safety goals.  “Apparently Gov. Synder saw these explanations in the news,” the association’s president, Ken Klippen, said in an email.

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, headquartered in Saranac, is Michigan’s largest egg producer. According to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, the company has a flock of 8.4 million hens, although Herbruck’s does have operations outside of Michigan as well.

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is set to become the next governor of Michigan.

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