Congress Debates Cage Sizes

The U.S. Senate is currently holding hearings regarding cage sizes for egg laying hens. The congressional debate is part of a nationwide struggle between animal rights activists and egg farmers and advocates.

For the past few years, animal rights groups have been intensifying campaigns against abusive farms. Groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the U.S. have created and distributed undercover videos depicting farmers abusing and mistreating livestock. In response, several states have attempted to ban the production of these videos.

In California, animal rights groups spearheaded Proposition 2 back in 2008, which mandated bigger cages for egg laying hens. The proposition, which easily passed, has provoked a mixed reaction. While some farmers resent the increased government regulation, others have embraced the new cage sizes. One Modesto, California farmer has installed webcams showing hens’ reactions to their bigger cages (an ironic parallel to undercover activist videos).

In the wake of this proposition, Senator Dianne Feinstein is proposing national legislation increasing the size of cages on egg farms. Feinstein believes she has the support necessary to pass the bill. Some farm advocacy groups, however, have promised to oppose the suggested legislation for fear that new animal treatment laws could spread to other livestock industries.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer