US battery cage ban back on track

Efforts to improve egg production standards in the USA are back on track, with the tabling of new draft legislation in Washington.

If passed, the new rules will implement an agreement between producer organisation United Egg Producers and The Humane Society of the United States to provide laying hens with more space and cage enrichments.

The changes will be phased in across all states over the next 15-16 years.

It was hoped the proposals would be signed off last year as part of a new US Farm Bill. But this was delayed as a result of the presidential elections.

A fresh attempt to get the egg legislation on the statute has now been started as an amendment to the Egg Products Inspection Act. This has been tabled by a small group of Democrat and Republican senators in Washington.

What’s on the table

  • 15-16 year phase in, (quicker in California)
  • Space increased from 67 sq ins per hen to 124/144 sq ins per hen
  • Cages to include perches, nest boxes and scratch areas
  • Clear labelling on egg box of production system used
  • Ban on molting to extend laying cycle
  • Ammonia limits in poultry houses

“We desperately need a federal statute that establishes one national standard of egg production, because the current myriad state legislation threatens to eliminate interstate egg commerce, destroying our businesses and potentially leading to egg shortages and consumer price spikes,” said UEP president Chad Gregory.

UEP chairman David Lathem added that, because it is an amendment to the Egg Products Inspection Act, it only affects egg farmers. “No other farmers would be impacted.”

This is important because other farming groups, including the influential American Farm Bureau Federation, have opposed the legislation, for fears it will set a precedent of government interference in other types of livestock farming.

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