The Oregon State Legislature is currently considering new regulations for the egg industry in an effort to combat what critics claim is animal cruelty. S.B. 805, which is under debate right now in the state legislature, would add a series of regulations to the treatment of egg-laying hens. The bill would ban the use of so-called “barren battery cages,” a practice of housing several hens in the same cage, leaving each animal roughly 67 square inches, and would mandate the use of “enriched colony cage system” which would give each bird more room, in some case doubling or tripling living space.
The original bill, supported by the Humane Society of the U.S., mandated a foot and a half of space, 216 square inches, for each bird by January 2019. Egg farmers in Oregon, however, protested the implementation process, pointing out that the goal of 2019 was infeasible and would be prohibitively expensive. Some farmers estimated that the cost of these new regulations could exceed $80 million for some farms. The Oregon Senate recently amended the bill, shrinking the required space to 116 square inches and pushing back the implementation deadline to 2023.
In response to this compromise, the Humane Society of the U.S. has filed for a voter initiative to pass the original, and more restrictive, animal rights law. The petition process is a major hurdle, requiring up to 82,000 signatures to appear on the ballot. The earliest it could appear in the ballot is November 2012.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer