Earlier this week, several house Representatives introduced legislation that would standardize animal treatment requirements regarding hens on egg farms across the country.
The proposed legislation would expand and standardize the amount of space required for egg-laying hens. Current standards vary from state to state, but are at least 67 square inches for most egg producers in the United States.
The proposed bill would nearly double that space, requiring egg producers to provide at least 124 square inches for white egg producing hens, the majority of birds in the U.S., and at least 144 square inches for brown egg producing hens. In addition, the bill would require separate areas for nesting, perching, and dust bathing. Most egg producers would have 18 years to implement these new changes.
The bill is part of a compromise reached last spring between United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States, whose alliance shocked many agricultural groups across the country. While the bill does not go as far as many animal rights groups had hoped, the HSUS originally wanted at least 214 square inches per bird, it is a major step forward for animal rights activists.
Leaders of the HSUS and several egg producers around the country are praising the bill. Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of the HSUS, recently stated, “Passing this bill would be a historic improvement for hundreds of millions of animals per year,” and representatives from J.S. West & Co., a major California egg producer, stated, “A national standard reflecting the public’s desire for a standard of care for egg-producing hens is very important.”
Some agricultural groups have criticized the bill. The National Pork Producers Council, for example, has condemned the legislation as an unwarranted federal takeover of local agricultural issues.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer