NATIONAL REPORT — Ballot initiatives, backed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to change egg-production standards, were dropped in Oregon and Washington after HSUS and the United Egg Producers (UEP) announced a deal to work together on comprehensive new federal legislation that would apply to all egg-laying hens in the United States.
The two groups say they will jointly ask Congress for federal legislation that would supercede state laws already passed in Arizona, California, Michigan and Ohio. The proposed law would:
- Require conventional cages to be replaced "through an ample phase-in period" with enriched housing spaces that provide double the space currently allotted to hens. The investment will cost egg producers about $4 billion over the next decade, according to a joint statement from HSUS and UEP.
- Require that all egg-laying hens be provided with environments to express natural behaviors such as perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas.
- Mandate new labeling on egg packaging, indicating what method of production was used, whether the eggs came from caged hens, hens in enriched cages, cage-free hens or free-range hens.
- Prohibit producers from withholding feed or water to extend the laying cycle.
- Require producers to follow euthanasia standards approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Prohibit excessive amounts of ammonia in hen houses.
- Prohibit the sale of any eggs that fail to meet these criteria within the United States.