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Federal Bill Aims to Allow the Government to Lead by Example on Farm Animal Welfare

As food industry giants from Burger King to Hellmann's are making moves away from some of the most inhumane factory farming practices, a new federal bill adds support to the growing trend. U.S. Reps. Diane Watson, D-Calif., and Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., this week introduced the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act to set a higher animal welfare standard for food purchased by the federal government.

The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, praised the proposal and encouraged Congress to act swiftly to pass the bill.

The bill, H.R. 4733, simply requires that any food purchased for federal programs comes from animals raised with enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and stretch their limbs.

"Americans are increasingly demanding that we move away from abusive confinement in tiny cages on factory farms," Rep. Watson said. "The federal government has a responsibility to help lead the way on this important issue, just as many of our nation's largest companies are starting to do."

"This bill requires meat producers who sell to the federal government to follow the same guidelines that California producers have in place to ensure the animals are raised humanely," Rep. Gallegly said.

"We are grateful to Representatives Watson and Gallegly for introducing this important legislation, which would meaningfully improve the lives of millions of farm animals being raised for the federal government," commented Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "Animals built to move should be allowed to move, and it's the most basic of requirements that they shouldn't be crammed into cages barely larger than their own bodies for virtually their entire lives."

Seven U.S. states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan and Oregon —have passed laws to phase out some of the most extreme confinement on industrial factory farms.

Many supermarket chains have taken steps to move away from products from producers that use cruel and inhumane cages to confine farm animals, including Wal-Mart, Harris Teeter, Winn-Dixie, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Safeway. National U.S. restaurant chains—including Burger King, Wendy's, Denny's, Red Robin, Quiznos, Sonic, Hardee's and Carl's Jr.—have done the same. And the country's largest pork and veal producers have pledged to phase out gestation crates and veal crates, respectively.


  • Both the U.S. House of Representatives' and the U.S. Senate's cafeterias already use cage-free eggs.
  • The HSUS has 11 million supporters nationwide.
  • Each year, the federal government spends more than $1 billion purchasing animal products for a variety of programs and agencies, including the National School Lunch Program, the Armed Services and the Bureau of Prisons.
  • Currently, no federal laws address the treatment of animals while they're on factory farms.



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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—on the web at humanesociety.org.

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