(ANIMAL NEWS) WASHINGTON D.C. — In an attempt to prolong yet another cruel and outdated system of feeding Americans, law-makers have composed H.R. 3798. This bill will force farmers using cages to phase in larger cages over an 18-year period. It will also create a new labeling system for eggs called “enriched,” in an attempt to deflect public concern about cage-free hens. While farmers think the bill is too strict, some animal rights activists think the bill is too lenient. Ultimately, the bill attempts to save an industry crippled by demand for cage-free eggs. Read on for the details of this new bill, and it’s finding so much opposition. — Global Animal
Sacramento Bee, Humane Farming Association
The Humane Farming Association (HFA) today announced its opposition to H.R. 3798, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). If enacted, the bill would stop cage-free laws in their tracks, despite the overwhelming desires of the American public.
The amendment seeks to codify an agreement reached in 2011 between United Egg Producers (UEP) — the egg industry trade association recently sued for an alleged price fixing scheme— and the Humane Society of the United States. UEP has been repeatedly brought to court over the past several years for similar accusations of price fixing.
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.”
In addition to the Humane Farming Association, those opposed to the bill include Friends of Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, United Poultry Concerns, FARM, Associated Humane Societies, and the majority of rank and file animal advocates.
HFA Responds to the Rotten Egg Bill’s (H.R. 3798) Specific Points
For political cover, UEP inserted a few diversionary provisions. None of them holds up to scrutiny.
Ammonia Levels: The Rotten Egg Bill contains nothing that alters current standards for “ammonia levels.” The bill merely duplicates UEP’s existing standards (which allow unhealthful levels of ammonia) and seeks to put that into federal law.
Forced Molting and Euthanasia: As for ending the practice of forced molting of hens by “starvation” and water deprivation – egg companies do not advocate that to begin with. Far from changing any currently accepted molting practice, the bill merely adopts UEP’s own existing standards. The same goes for “euthanasia” standards and other empty provisions tossed in to distract from the central issue: keeping hens in cages.
UEP’s Game of Inches: Prior to the Rotten Egg Bill, the egg industry passed state legislation calling for 116 square inches of cage space per hen. With a mere 8 square inch adjustment, UEP’s federal bill calls for a still cruel and depriving 124 square inches per hen – “phased-in” over 18 years. This token modification does not “double” the cage space from what UEP has already advocated as a standard. The bill’s own proponents have stated that a hen needs at least 216 square inches just to spread her wings.
Fraudulent Labeling: As far as labeling egg cartons, UEP’s Rotten Egg Bill certainly would do that. For the very first time, the fraudulent term “enriched” cages would begin appearing on egg cartons nationwide – in order to deflect public concern – and to increase egg sales from caged hens.
The position of the Humane Farming Association and other responsible activists and organizations remains clear:
- Cruelty is cruelty.
- There is no such thing as an “enriched” battery cage.
- No humane organization should ever endorse these abusive confinement systems.
- Our state laws and voting rights must not be given away.
To read more about the proposed legislation, please visit: www.StopTheRottenEggBill.org
About HFA: The Humane Farming Association is spearheading a national campaign against factory farming. It also operates the nation’s largest farm animal rescue and refuge facility. Founded in 1985, and over 250,000 members strong, HFA has gained national recognition and respect for its hard work, integrity, and its highly successful campaigns.
HFA’s goals are to protect farm animals from cruelty and abuse, to protect the public from the misuse of antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals used on factory farms, and to protect the environment from the impacts of industrialized animal factories. To learn more, visit www.hfa.org.
For media inquiries, contact Bradley Miller at 415.485.1495.
More Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/23/4209743/animal-organizations-advocates.html