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A Historic Year for Farm Animals

In 2011, The HSUS made progress for egg-laying hens, fostered a greater interest in plant-based food, and more

chicken hen


Historic Deal

With the help of millions of caring voters and consumers, The Humane Society of the United States forged a historic agreement in 2011 with the United Egg Producers, a major industry trade group.

The two organizations will jointly lobby Congress to pass legislation phasing out the standard method of egg production, which confines hens in barren cages in which each bird has less living space than a sheet of paper.

The proposed new legislation would give hens nearly twice as much space, places to perch and scratch, and would mandate that egg carton labels inform consumers about how the eggs were produced.

"We still have to get this enacted into law," said Paul Shapiro, senior director of farm animal protection for The HSUS. "But this is a historic agreement between two entities that have been long-time adversaries. It has real potential to reduce the suffering of hundreds of millions of birds. Few of us thought this would be possible a year ago."

Smithfield Foods

The HSUS successfully campaigned in 2011 to persuade Smithfield Foods, America's largest pork producer, to recommit to phasing out cruel "gestation crates," which confine pregnant pigs in spaces so small they cannot turn around.

The company had previously agreed to a phase-out of the crates in 2007 but delayed that plan two years later. The HSUS will work to see that Smithfield's phase-out become a reality and to ensure the company's competitors—including Tyson, Hormel, Triumph, Prestage, Seaboard—will follow suit.

New standards for Ohio farm animals

This year, we saw the final enactment of standards we've been seeking in Ohio since our 2010 campaign for farm animals in the Buckeye State. The new standards include phase-outs of veal crates, gestation crates, tail-docking for dairy cows, and a moratorium on new battery cage confinement facilities.

Olivera settlement

A California community is breathing easier after a jury ruled that the horrific stench from a factory farm—Olivera Egg Ranch—was a nuisance under California law. The HSUS and local residents filed suit in 2008, noting that the noxious emissions from the facility's golf-course-sized liquid manure cesspools were destroying the local community. The farm has more than 600,000 birds in cramped cages.

In 2011, The HSUS and the neighbors prevailed, and the jury ordered Olivera to pay more than $500,000 in damages. The court also fined Olivera more than $143,000 for willfully destroying evidence related to air pollution on its property after the lawsuit was filed.

Meatless Mondays

The HSUS has been helping to fuel the popularity of Meatless Mondays in 2011. A New York Times headline proclaimed, "Meatless Mondays catches on, even with carnivores." Oprah Winfrey Show episodes were devoted to the trend. And Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Mike Tyson, and Martha Stewart have touted the benefits of eating more vegetarian foods.

The HSUS worked with institutions around the country, including universities and food retailers, to implement Meatless Mondays. The initiative promotes healthy diets, achieves better environmental stewardship, and reduces farm animal suffering.


Getting hens out of cages

When consumers learn about the suffering of egg-laying hens confined to tiny cages, more and more are making the switch to cage-free eggs. And so are institutions. In 2011, after working with The HSUS, one of the largest U.S. Army bases, Fort Lee (Va.), switched to cage-free eggs, marking the first time the U.S. government has procured cage-free eggs in significant numbers.  

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