US opposition to laying hen welfare bill gathers momentum
Opposition to a planned bill to provide for a uniform national standard for the housing and treatment of egg-laying hens is growing, despite the optimism expressed by the United Egg Producers and the desires of over 90% of US egg producers.
The Bill, known as HR 3798, has detractors on both the left and right of the issue, despite a list of more than 50 co-sponsors in the House and the imminence of a parallel bill in the Senate, writes Simon Shane for website egg-cite.
Animal rights groups including the Humane Farming Association (HFA) which has characterised the measure as the “Rotten Egg Bill” are in the forefront of mobilising lobbying efforts to prevent enactment. The HFA is invoking previous allegations of price fixing by the UEP and also dredging up distortions against caged housing in their efforts to prevent codifying the 2011 agreement between the UEP and the HSUS.
The HFA refuses to accept scientific evidence developed in the EU regarding the superior standard of welfare in enriched colony cages which will house US hens at 124 square inches per white-feathered bird. The HFA maintains the same position as the HSUS, prior to the agreement with the UEP, in considering all cages as unacceptable. The HFA is supported by fringe groups of extremists including United Poultry Concerns, Friends of Animals, the Defend Animals Coalition and other organisations opposed to all forms of intensive livestock production and which espouse veganism.
Of greater significance to passage of HR 3798 is the coalescing opposition of other animal production associations. Last week, Congress heard from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Milk Producers Federation, representatives of the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Pork producers have dubbed HR 3798 the “Farm Takeover Bill”. Their apparent collective concern is establishing a precedent for mandated and quantified Federal standards relating to welfare of livestock.
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