New Federal Bill Would Require Egg Production Farms to Use Humane Housing For Hens

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by GardenerGal, Jan 26, 2012.

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  1. GardenerGal

    GardenerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 20, 2008
    Not sure if this is the right forum/subforum to put this, but -----
    There's a bill (HR3798) that has just come before the U.S. Congress, that would place stricter regulations on housing for production hens. If it passes, it means an eventual end to "battery farms" where hens are kept in little cages on rough wire, with no room to live and move the way chickens are meant to.

    The United Egg Producers (a collaborative of conscientious egg farmers) and the Humane Society of the United States have combined powers to provide a collective voice in favor of the bill. Vociferously speaking against it are the hog and cattle industries, who see the handwriting on the wall that would bring future legislation on their animal-production methods -- and if you have seen beef "finishing" yards, stockyards, veal calves in boxes, and production sows in birthing "coops," you can appreciate that mass-production pig- and cattle farms and corporations don't want to have to provide more humane housing for their animals because it takes more space, and using more space means not being able to cram more animals in to make the kind of profit they want to make.
    So, expect a Battle Royale to hit the floors of Congress.

    One can only hope that the Judeo-Christian virtues of ethics and humaneness will win over the drive for pure profit that has made big corporate farms and ranches so insensitive to the sentient creatures they make a living on.

    And kudos to the United Egg Producers for taking the high road.

    Here's the news as reported on Food Safety News, but the story all over the Internet:

    Bill Introduced to Improve Welfare Standard for Egg-Laying Hens

    by Helena Bottemiller | Jan 24, 2012
    The Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers -- who, by all accounts, are strange bedfellows -- announced Monday strong support for H.R. 3798, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, which was introduced this week by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), and Jeff Denham (R-CA).

    United Egg Producers, which represents 87 percent of domestic egg production, and HSUS struck a historic deal to create national animal welfare standards for egg production, notably transitioning from battery cages to enriched housing systems, including perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas that provide laying hens almost double the amount of space than current systems.

    In exchange for a national standard, HSUS agreed to stop seeking stricter state-level egg standard laws, which create a patchwork of varying and sometimes conflicting regulations for the industry. The Egg Inspection Act Amendments would put the deal struck between the two groups into law.

    Livestock groups are outraged over the proposal, which they fear will set an unwelcome precedent for more federal regulations on livestock care.

    The National Pork Producers Council has been especially critical of the idea.

    "This HSUS-backed legislation would set a dangerous precedent that could let Washington bureaucrats dictate how livestock and poultry producers raise and care for their animals," said NPPC president Doug Wolf, a hog farmer from Lancaster, WI. "We don't need or want the federal government and HSUS telling us how to do our jobs."

    "If enacted, it would open Pandora's Box for special interest groups to pursue similar federal laws on pig farmers, dairy farmers and other family farming operations," added Wolf.

    NPPC called on lawmakers to oppose the so-called "Farm Takeover Bill."

    The National Cattlemen's Beef Association reacted similarly. "This ill-conceived legislation could set the model for a one-size-fits-all approach to cattle production," said NCBA president Bill Donald. "Unfortunately, one-size-fits all doesn't work with cattle producers, who are in diverse settings in all 50 states. This legislation won't improve animal health or care and will result in further costly and burdensome regulations being placed on America's food producers."

    Egg producers and HSUS are standing firm on the issue, arguing that national legislation is needed.

    "Eggs are a national commodity, and egg producers should have a level playing field--not have different, costly rules in all 50 states," said Gene Gregory, president and CEO of United Egg Producers. "That's where we are heading if we don't pass this federal legislation. We need this legislation for our customers and consumers and the survival of egg farmers."

    "The HSUS and UEP have been long-time adversaries, but have come together and identified a solution that balances animal welfare and the economic realities of the industry," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "The nation needs this kind of problem solving, and the Congress should enthusiastically embrace an agreement between all of the key stakeholders."

    According to UEP and HSUS, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, would:

    -require conventional cages to be replaced during an ample phase-in period with new, enriched colony housing systems that provide all egg-laying hens nearly double the amount of current space;

    -require that, after a phase-in period, all egg-laying hens be provided with environmental enrichments, such as perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas, that will allow hens to express natural behaviors;

    -require labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs--"eggs from caged hens," "eggs from hens in enriched cages," "eggs from cage-free hens" and "eggs from free-range hens";

    -prohibit feed- or water-withdrawal molting to extend the laying cycle, a practice already prohibited by the United Egg Producers Certified program;

    -require standards approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association for euthanasia of egg-laying hens;

    -prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses; and

    -prohibit the transport and sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don't meet these requirements

    "As an advocate for agriculture and animal welfare, I am pleased to join my colleagues in co-sponsoring this common-sense legislation that will help farmers, consumers and animals," said Rep. Farr, ranking member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, in a statement Monday. "Having consistent rules and a national standard will help egg producers meet the consumer demand for safe, wholesome food and will send a message that doing what's good for animal welfare and what's good for industry economics are not mutually exclusive."

    [​IMG] Food Safety News
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  2. b.hromada

    b.hromada Flock Mistress

    I'm thrilled the egg production companies have stepped up! Its about time. I believe that ALL animals need to be treated humanely. Of course the pork and beef farmers won't be happy. Its about big profit, that's all.
  3. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA

  4. newfoundland

    newfoundland Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2010
    The EU has banned the use of battery cages for egg production in Europe. It came into force this year. Farmers in UK are strictly controlled and inspected and have complied with the new regulations, and not a moment before time, we say! One reason for the farmers ready compliance was the huge publicity that the anti- battery hen welfare charities have managed to generate. So much so that the consumer demanded only free range eggs, and supermarkets have had to stock only these, or have them left on the shelves. Just yesterday we found out that Poland and Spain have not complied with the new regulations and are still using battery cages. What is the point of a law that is not policed? Last night, on TV supermarkets were advertising that they sell only UK eggs, produced to the highest welfare standards. It proves that if youhave the consumer on your, you can push these long overdue reforms through!
  5. NixNoodleNumbat

    NixNoodleNumbat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2011
    I really hope something like this happens in Australia. I really, really do.
  6. NickyPick

    NickyPick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 18, 2010
    Cypress, TX
    Quote: I don't understand this. Are they saying you take away feed/water and a hen stops molting? Seriously? How do they get enough nutrition to keep laying eggs?
  7. chicken_boy_Kurt

    chicken_boy_Kurt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2008
    No, one way to force a hen into molt, so she'll come back into lay sooner, is to deny her access to food and water in a dark room for a few days to a few weeks. It's really bad.
  8. chicken_boy_Kurt

    chicken_boy_Kurt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2008
    I hate to be the Negative Nancy, but I'm not entirely in favor of this bill... There are already birds living under these conditions (any time you see an egg carton labeled "Cage-Free" or "Free-Range", that's how they're being raised).

    Basically, all the birds are crammed into a big room. There are perches and nestboxes, and the birds use them. But they only use the nestboxes if there's no litter on the floor, otherwise they use the floor to lay their eggs. And the birds are frequently worse off than if they were in battery houses; most of them have crooked keel bones, broken wings, broken legs, burn marks from the build-up of waste on the floor, or severe feather picking. And, while I'm explaining things, a "Free-Range" bird is only allowed access to a small spit of land, which none of the birds really use anyway.

    I'm kind of just against factory farming, even though I know it's impossible to go back to our agrarian lifestyle.
  9. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    This is a similar thread to another here.
    So, I'll just post this again.

    Just one man's opinion, but the requirements have already been widely agreed to. Doubling cage space, etc. The main point of this bill, which hasn't even been written yet, is to level the playing field for all producers. In other words, rather than have this agreement with some, but not all, producers, those who agree would be at cost of production disadvantage to competitors who did not voluntarily agree to the changes. By codifying the agreement, all producers would have to abide by the proposed changes.

    The time frame suggested is something like 16 years for full implementation. This long time period allows producers the time to make the change over within a normal depreciated period, for the equipment involved. There is also political pressures from foreign governments to level the playing field internationally so that no major egg producing country has a perceived unfair advantage in cost of production. The UK and the EU are already dealing with this issue and implementation plans are in process.
  10. AquaEyes

    AquaEyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    The part I italicized in your quote above really doesn't fit. The "virtues of ethics and humaneness" are not owned by, nor exclusive to, Judeo-Christian beliefs. In fact, one could easily argue that Judeo-Christian beliefs include man's inherent dominion over the land and all its creatures by virtue of his place in divine hierarchy, as stated in Genesis, and that this contradicts any claim of being humane to animals being born in Judeo-Christian philosophy. If it was, the spread of Christianity would have been followed with an equally long history of "ethics and humaneness" to animals, but we do not find that to be the case. So...perhaps it would have been best to just not include the text I italicized in your quote.

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