The first post in this series dealt with a landmark victory confronting an area that has historically been filled with some of the cruelest suffering – laboratory animals.
On Thursday, July 7, 2011, there was yet another victory in yet another area of notoriously inhumane abuse and cruelty – the poultry industry.
Animal welfare organizations such as the Farm Sanctuary, Compassion Over Killing, the ASPCA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have been fighting for years to protect farm animals. The most famous of these battles was the successful ballot initiative, Proposition 2, in 2008 in California.
These organizations have vowed to go state-by-state with similar ballot initiatives in an effort to better the conditions of agricultural animals. Currently, ballot initiatives are on the table in Washington and Oregon.
But last Thursday, this dogged state-by-state approach brought the agricultural industry to its knees, with overarching and national results. HSUS announced a landmark truce between these activists and the United Egg Producers (UEP), the largest egg industry group in the nation, which represents owners of about 80% of the nation’s egg laying hens, according to the ASPCA. This truce will ensure better conditions for hens and more reliable egg labeling for consumers.
- phased in construction of hen housing systems that will give each hen almost twice as much space as is currently provided
- environmental enrichments such as perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas in hens’ housing systems
- egg carton labeling such as “eggs from caged hens” and “eggs from cage-free hens”
- new construction of unenrichable battery cages by the end of 2011, and a phase out of barren battery cages
- forced molting by starvation in order to manipulate the hens to lay eggs sooner
- excessive ammonia levels in the hens’ housing systems
- sale of eggs and egg products that don’t meet these standards
Major kudos to the hard-working animal welfare advocates at all of these organizations! This is a great example of how a well-run, successful state-by-state approach with specific goals can result in a federal legislative effort that will increase the welfare of hens nationwide. And I love the fact that the Farm Sanctuary sees this as a major step — but not the final step — vowing to continue the fight for completely cage-free hens.
As this effort reaches Congress, make sure to encourage your Senators and Representatives to support this upcoming legislation.