Cage-free law proposed in Illinois legislature

Proposed bill would call for the end of the production and sale of caged eggs in Illinois by 2026.

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A bill has been proposed in Illinois that would make caged egg production illegal in the state by January 1, 2026.

Illinois State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, on February 9 proposed SB3655, the Confinement of Egg-Laying Hens Act, which would make it unlawful for a farm owner or operator to confine a laying hen in an enclosure that is not a cage-free housing system, or has less than the amount of usable floor space per hen required by the 2017 edition of the United Egg Producers' Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg-Laying Flocks: Guidelines for Cage-Free Housing.

The bill also requires that business owners in the state cannot knowingly sell eggs that are not consistent with the above-mentioned production standards. The legislation, however, does have a stipulation that a business owner or operator of a farm “shall not be liable under the Act if the business owner or operator relied upon, in good faith, a written certification by the supplier that the shell eggs or egg products were not derived from an egg-laying hen that was confined in a manner that conflicts with the act.”

The bill, if enacted into law, would be enforced by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and authorizes the state’s director of agriculture to adopt rules necessary to administrate the act.

The bill also calls for civil penalty of $2,000 per violation per day.

A member of the Illinois State Senate since 2006, Holmes is chairperson of the Senate’s Agriculture, Commerce and Economic Development Committee, and is the Majority Caucus Whip.

Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, is also a sponsor of SB3655.

While this bill was just proposed earlier in February and calls for an end of the production and sale of caged eggs by the first of 2026, another state is considering delaying the deadline to comply with its cage-free egg law that was passed in 2021.

A Utah bill that was signed by the governor in 2021, called for an end to cage-free production in the state by January 1, 2025. However, some Utah state legislators are concerned that such a deadline was not reasonable and proposed new legislation that would push that compliance deadline back to 2030. That bill received unanimous support of the Utah Senate Business and Labor Committee.

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