Washington passes cage-free egg production law

The law not only requires the banning of cages and requires more space per bird, but it also dictates that hens be provided with enrichments.

(LudvigCZ | BigStock.com)
(LudvigCZ | BigStock.com)

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law a ban on caged egg production by the end of 2023. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced the news Tuesday.

“The measure builds upon our previous work in states like California and Massachusetts where voters have passed transformational ballot measures against the cage confinement of farm animals in recent years,” HSUS wrote.

The law requires the banning of cages and requires more space per bird, and also dictates that hens be provided with enrichments, including scratch areas, perches, nesting and dust bathing areas, the HSUS report said.

The producers of approximately 8 million hens will be impacted. The law also forbids the sale of cage-produced eggs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture "will not publish the number of layers in the state of Washington so as not to divulge individual farmer totals, but did publish the total number of eggs at 185 million," said Ken Klippen, president of the National Association of Egg Farmers. "For the 7.5 million people in the state of Washington consuming at the projected per capita rate of 279 eggs, this means they will be importing eggs into the state from other states."

In response to the new law in the state of Washington, Chad Gregory, president and CEO of the United Egg Producers (UEP) said: â€śUEP’s farmer-members support all types of hen housing and will comply with Washington’s new law, when implemented. Changes in hen housing are complex and costly, and they require close collaboration with customers. Our focus remains on proper management of hen health and well-being, and meeting or exceeding all food safety requirements in all housing systems.”

HSUS said it worked with Democratic and Republican legislators, stakeholders in the agricultural sector, and other animal protection groups to get the bill passed.

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