It should come as no surprise that New Mexico Senate Bill 347 has been introduced to force cage-free egg production and the sales of cage-free produced eggs. It is called the "Confinement of Egg-Laying Hens Act." New Mexico is following in the path of other states, including neighboring Colorado, which is part of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) mission to create laws enforcing cage-free production in much of the western U.S.
The United Egg Producers has been aware of the HSUS agenda and has shared it with the industry on several different occasions. Utah is also in the process of negotiating cage-free egg legislation amongst government officials, animal welfare groups and the state's egg producers.
New Mexico is unique in that there are no egg producers in the state, so this seems to be an independent effort from HSUS and a few key legislators within the state to make sure that supermarkets/retailers can only sell cage-free eggs.
HSUS is not looking at cage-free legislation from a producer perspective but rather how can they make sure that millions of people are forced to purchase cage-free eggs.
Will egg purchasers stick with cage-free pledges?
I do not think supermarkets, foodservice companies and food processors are ready to change stances on cage-free egg purchases in either direction at this point. I think the supermarkets' commitments and public statements to go cage-free, combined with its lack of knowledge or ability to act on it are all still very prevalent and creating challenges.
These state laws are starting to make that all very complicated. While retailers still have not addressed if they are going to stick to their commitments, at a certain point they're going to be forced to within certain states and that is when the logistical nightmare will occur.
HSUS is aware of this and I think it is probably part of its strategy. There will come a point where enough states with high populations will have passed state laws that require cage-free eggs and make it challenge logistically for national chain stores to figure out what eggs need to go to which distribution centers to end up in the correct states.
It could get to a point where the national chain box stores say to prevent lawsuits and other technical challenges, we must go 100% cage-free.