07 July 2011

HSUS and the United Egg Producers announce ‘unprecedented’ partnership

Peanut butter and jelly, Abbott and Costello and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP), at first blush which pairing seems to not fit?

Well according to an HSUS release apparently all three have something in common; they all seem to work extremely well together.

In what is being called an “unprecedented” partnership, UEP and HSUS have joined forces to promote sweeping and historic federal legislation that would affect all 280 million egg producing hens in the United States.

Why historic? If enacted the measure would become the first federal law focusing on the treatment of farm animals.

The proposed legislation would:

• require conventional cages (currently used by more than 90 percent of the egg industry) to be replaced, through an ample phase-in period, with new, enriched housing systems that provide each hen nearly double the amount of space they’re currently allotted. Egg producers will invest an additional $4 billion over the next decade and a half to effect this industry-wide make-over;
• require that all egg-laying hens be provided, through the new enriched housing system, with environments that will allow hens to express natural behaviors, 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,” “eggs from hens in enriched cages,” “eggs from cage-free hens,” and “eggs from free-range hens”;
• prohibit feed- or water-withholding molting to extend the laying cycle, a practice already prohibited by the United Egg Producers Certified program adhered to by a majority of egg farmers;
• require standards approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association for euthanasia for egg laying hens;
• prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses;
• prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these requirements.

“Passing this bill would be an historic improvement for hundreds of millions of animals per year,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “It is always our greatest hope to find common ground and to forge solutions, even with traditional adversaries. We are excited about a new and better pathway forward, and hope the Congress seizes the opportunity to embrace this sort of collaboration and mutual understanding. We extend our thanks to the producers within the industry for agreeing to make the needed investments to upgrade their housing and to improve animal welfare in a meaningful way.”

If the UEP and HSUS supported legislation does pass, egg producers will have between 15-18 years to phase in the new cage requirements. Currently the majority of the animals are allotted 67 square inches while the new standard would set a minimum of 122-144 square inches.

Eric Fortney | @elfortney | email
Eric is the co-founder and executive editor of the animal rights and eco-friendly news source, This Dish Is Veg. In addition to his work at TDIV, Eric is a father of three, runner, and lover of the outdoors.

Photo Credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/cursedthing