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State legislatures advance cage-free bans

Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Cage free egg layers MAPI.jpg
Arizona, Hawaii, Maine and Colorado all take actions to require cage free housing systems for egg production.

On March 11, the Egg Industry Center reported that total cage-free flocks in February were down 1% from January, however, as animal welfare groups continue to advance their agenda at the state level to limit production of anything but cage free eggs.

On March 11, the Arizona House approved HB 2724, that requires 1-square foot of floor space by January 1, 2022, and cage-free, or more extensive, housing by December 31, 2024. The current standard is 66 square inches.

House Bill 2724 would then preclude the sale of eggs in Arizona that did not come from cage-free hens in 2025 once the law goes into effect. The cage-free standards match United Egg Producer (UEP) Certified standards.

The Phoenix New Times and Tuscon Times have both report that the bill introduced by Rep. Tim Dunn (R., Yuma) said the bill represents a compromise between Arizona's egg industry, which is dominated by Hickman's Family Farms, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

On March 3rd, House Bill 20-1343 was introduced in Colorado. The bill bans individual cages for chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or guinea fowl egg-laying hens, specifies pen sizes and design and requires “enrichments that allow them to exhibit natural behaviors, including, at a minimum, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and dust bathing areas.” The language of the bill mirrors similar bills introduced or passed into law in other states in recent years.

The bill addresses partitions within a house noting, “For an indoor environment, the egg-laying hens are free to roam unrestricted except by the following: A) exterior walls; and B) interior fencing used to contain the entire egg-laying hen flock within the building or subdivide flocks into smaller groups if farm employees can walk through each contained or subdivided area to provide care to egg-laying hens and if each egg-laying hen has the minimum amount of usable floor space described in section 35-21-203 (1)(b)(II).”

On March 5, Hawaii’s Senate passed SB 3153 that will require cage-free, or more extensive, housing for laying hens within the state. The bill also prohibits the sale of shell eggs or egg products that are not from cage-free or more extensive systems.

Though the legislation does not mention “United Egg Producers,” it does require UEP Certified standards. The bill also sets housing standards for swine and veal calves. The next step is for the bill to go before the House. If the bill becomes law, as written, the standards will go into effect on January 1, 2026.

Legislation, similar to Colorado’s and Hawaii’s, was also introduced in Maine. Rep. O’Neil’s amended bill was defeated in committee by a vote of 9 to 3. Cage-free legislation is still pending, the UEP reported.

TAGS: Policy Poultry
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