Washington hen cage ban initiative rejected by state veterinary association
Group supports bill for state certification program
Washington state Initiative-1130, which would outlaw all commercial, caged housing systems that do not allow birds to enter and exit at will and would restrict commercial egg production to a non-caged method, has been rejected by the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association.
Instead, the WSVMA has announced its support for passage of Senate Bill 5487, already supported by the state's poultry and egg industry, which would establish a certification program for commercial egg laying chicken operations that would provide "the nation's strongest certification and audit protections for commercial egg laying birds," according to the association.
"The issue of hen welfare is not as simple as doing away with cages and eliminating certain sales in Washington," said Dr. Debi Wallingford, a past president of the WSVMA. "In our opinion, only the pending legislation in SB 5487 offers a consistent structure to improve hen welfare and an annual audit plan for verification of compliance and that's why we back it. [I-1130] offers no plan for audit, no clear scientific standards or structure specifically researched to improve the lives of laying hens and no additional empowerments for enforcement."
As of April 5, Bill 5487 has been sent to the Senate floor for a second reading by the Rules Committee.