If you thought you smelled ballot initiatives in the air - you were right. The United Egg Producers and HSUS have decided to work together to achieve, through a federal legislative initiative, the following objectives:
-- Require a moratorium at the end of 2011 on new construction of unenrichable battery cages -- small, cramped, cages that nearly immobilize more than 90 percent of laying hens today -- and the nationwide elimination of barren battery cages through a phase-out period;
-- Require phased in construction of new hen housing systems that provide hens nearly double the amount of space they’re currently provided;
-- Require environmental enrichments so birds can engage in important natural behaviors currently denied to them in barren cages, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas;
-- Mandate labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, such as "eggs from caged hens" or "eggs from cage-free hens";
-- Prohibit forced molting through starvation -- an inhumane practice that is inflicted on tens of millions of hens each year and which involves withholding all food from birds for up to two weeks in order to manipulate the laying cycle;
-- Prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses -- a common problem in the industry that is harmful to both hens and egg industry workers;
-- Require standards for euthanasia of hens; and
-- Prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these above requirements.
If passed, this legislation would be the the first federal law relating to on-farm treatment of any farm animal. If you'd like to read more about this potentially devastating legislation click here and here.
My 2¢: I am 100% for humane treatment of farm animals however, I believe that hens raised in battery cages can have just as good or better welfare than those who live in cage-free environments. Additionally, labeling a product 'cage-free' does not necessarily convey excellent well-being but rather just indicates how the animal was raised. A wide sweeping federal law is also not going to cure every so-called 'problem' associated with battery cages. Remember the backlash and consequences that occurred after horse slaughter was banned?
What are your thoughts?
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
image from here