Friday, January 27, 2012

Egg Producers - Humane Society: A Rotten Bill?

Is the landmark bill to improve the lives of egg-laying hens now before Congress all it's cracked up to be? Some advocates think not. In fact, they decry it as downright rotten.

Hens confined in battery cages.

According to The Humane Farming Association (HFA,) here's why:
While claiming to “enrich” cages, the bill would:

-Nullify existing state laws that ban or restrict battery cages—including California’s Proposition 2.

-Deprive voters of the right and ability to pass ballot measures banning cages.

-Deny state legislatures the ability to enact laws to outlaw battery cages or otherwise regulate egg factory conditions.

“UEP claims that this legislation would eventually result in ‘progress’ for laying hens,” said Bradley Miller, National Director of the Humane Farming Association. “Just the opposite is true. In reality, the egg industry merely agreed to slowly continue the meager changes in battery cage conditions that are already occurring due to state laws and public pressure.”

Many others have expressed doubt that the new bill would result in any real changes in conditions for hens. “The cages defined by the legislation will in no meaningful way reduce the unimaginable suffering endured by the hens,” said Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Professor Emeritus of Veterinary Medicine at U.C. Berkley. “Hens will still not be able to get proper exercise, they still will be too crowded to even properly stretch their wings, perches will be at an ineffectual height, and nest boxes will not be conducive to the needs for laying eggs.”

“We are urging citizens to contact their U.S. Representatives to oppose this bill. It represents not only a major loss for laying hens, but also for states’ rights and voters’ rights throughout the nation,” said Miller. “If it passes, it will establish egg factory cages as a national standard that could never be challenged or changed by state law or public vote, and would keep laying hens forever locked in cages.”

I have zero confidence that the egg-producing industry will self-regulate without substantial pressure from animal welfare advocates and consumers like you and me. The Humane Society has also proved itself to be a fair-weather friend to animals, if that.

The Humane Farming Association lacks the name recognition to completely change my mind. Perhaps if we knew more about them, it would be easier to support their position to stop the rotten egg bill.

Have a look at it here.

It's well worth looking at both sides of this argument before calling your Congressperson.

Me? Perhaps, I spoke too soon.

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