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HSUS, egg producers seek national hen standards
The United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States have agreed to support national legislation addressing housing for laying hens and abandon state-by-state ballot initiatives.
HSUS and the United Egg Producers agreed to support a transition to “enriched colony housing” over the course of 15 to 18 years. Colony housing attempts to balance the benefits of cages, while allowing birds to engage in natural behaviors such as perching, scratching and nesting.
Enriched colony housing had gained support after it was endorsed by animal behaviorist Temple Grandin and the American Humane Association. A major egg producer in California had also recently installed colony housing in an attempt to comply with Prop 2, an HSUS-backed ballot initiative that required new standards for animal enclosures. However, the farm was met with the threat of a lawsuit from HSUS, which voiced its disapproval of any type of cage housing.
However HSUS changed its position in the agreement with UEP, providing options to egg producers in several states who were facing new rules that would essentially eliminate cages.
“America’s egg producers have continually worked to improve animal welfare, and we strongly believe our commitment to a national standard for hen welfare is in the best interest of our animals, customers and consumers,” said Bob Krouse, chairman of UEP and an Indiana egg farmer. “We are committed to working together for the good of the hens in our care and believe a national standard is far superior than a patchwork of state laws and regulations that would be cumbersome for our customers and confusing to consumers.”
The two groups said they will jointly ask Congress for federal legislation that would increase space per bird, require labels that state how the birds were housed and provide housing enrichments. Among other requirements, the proposed legislation would also prohibit the sale of eggs that came from farms that don’t meet the new rules.
Ohio Farm Bureau (OFBF) is analyzing the impact of this agreement on American animal agriculture and particularly on Ohio farmers. OFBF’s analysis will include the new agreement’s implications for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board and last year’s agreement between Ohio’s farm organizations and HSUS.