Following passage of the 2008 California Proposition 2 in November, both the HSUS and State Poultry Associations have intensified their efforts to advance their respective causes. At the beginning of 2009, HSUS signaled that it intended to repeat their success in Ohio, the nation’s fourth largest egg producer.

The United Egg Producers prepared a summary of legal action by various states to update producers. The principal developments can be divided into three categories comprising preemptive legislation to avert a California Proposition 2-style voter initiative, legal proceedings which oppose HSUS intentions and negotiations which may be regarded as temporizing without a clear resolution.

Preemptive legislation

Ohio  - The Ohio legislature will submit a constitutional amendment to voters in November 2009 which will create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board comprising 13 members. This body will have the sole authority to establish standards relating to the husbandry and welfare of livestock and poultry.

Georgia  - Georgia will amend their General Code to prevent local authorities regulating production of Agricultural and Farm product and to repeal conflicting laws and ordinances by subordinate bodies.

Oklahoma  - The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed HB2151 which establishes a Department of Agriculture division to supervise animal production and welfare in the state and preventing any municipality county or political entity enacting any regulation more restrictive or contrary to rules established by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry.

South Carolina  - The General Assembly of the state has passed a bill to amend the 1976 code relating to livestock and poultry, specifying that the General Assembly is the only competent body to establish regulations relating to welfare and management of livestock and poultry.

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Arizona  - The state has specified that shell eggs sold in Arizona must comply with the certified program administered by United Egg Producers.

Illinois  - The Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee which has established an Animal Welfare Subcommittee rejected a bill instigated by legislators supporting HSUS initiatives to impose non-confinement regulations similar to the vague wording of California Proposition 2.

Conflicts and uncertainty persist in California

Assembly Bill 1437, introduced in February, intended to prohibit sale of shell eggs in California introduced from some other state not producing in conformity with the requirements of Proposition 2. Proponents of Assembly Bill 1437 based their Bill on the alleged deleterious effect of confinement stress which they maintained represented a public health hazard. The Bill was withdrawn because neither the HSUS nor the Association of California Egg Farmers could agree on the intent or wording of the compromise legislation.

Future activities

Two states have enacted legislation which can be regarded as a partial victory for HSUS with respect to veal and pork production but for the present will not affect confinement housing of poultry:

The Maine Legislature voted to ban confined housing for gestating sows and veal crates becoming effective at the beginning of 2011. Caged laying hens were excluded from the legislation. It is noted that an animal activist group published a report on alleged abuses at the largest egg production complex in the state immediately prior to a hearing by the Agricultural Committee on April 4.

Colorado-Senate Bill 2001 will ban veal and sow gestation crates by 2012 and 2018 respectively. As with Maine the legislation did not include egg production and no ballot is scheduled on this issue.

Ballot initiatives can be introduced in 24 states with Ohio, Minnesota, Maine, Nebraska, Washington, Oregon and New York considered the most vulnerable to HSUS intervention. To date HSUS activities have been blocked in Colorado, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, and Massachusetts. The HSUS in response has established a litigation department which will be proactive and will work for federal anti-confinement legislation.