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March 22, 2012

Ohio Voters Favor Federal Bill on Egg-Laying Hens by More than Three-to-One Margin

New Statewide Poll Reveals Overwhelming Support for H.R. 3798 in the Nation’s Second-Largest Egg Producing State

A new survey of Ohio voters conducted by Columbus-based Saperstein Associates reveals overwhelming support—by more than a three-to-one margin—for a federal bill to give more space to laying hens in the egg industry. Ohio is the second-largest egg producing state in the nation, with nearly 28 million laying hens.

The survey reveals that more than seven out of ten (71 percent) voters support H.R. 3798 in Congress to establish national standards for the treatment of egg-laying hens, while only 22 percent oppose the bill and 7 percent are undecided. The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 would give each bird essentially twice the current amount of space and provide perches, nesting boxes, and other forms of environmental enrichment that allow hens to express natural behaviors. H.R. 3798 would also prohibit excessive levels of ammonia in henhouses, ban inhumane methods of euthanasia, and require a national labeling program so consumers have more information on egg cartons about the conditions in which hens are raised. Voters in every demographic and political affiliation strongly support the legislation.

“The Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers have been long-time adversaries, but have come together and identified a solution that balances animal welfare and the economic realities of the industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “The nation needs this kind of problem solving, and it’s my great hope that the Ohio Congressional delegation will enthusiastically embrace a bill that has the support of all the key stakeholders and of Ohio voters.”

Additional survey findings include:

•    By nearly a ten-to-one margin, voters are more likely to support the bill than oppose it when they learn it represents an agreement between The Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers, and is also supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Ohio Egg Processors Association.
•    Nearly twice as many voters support the bill as oppose it when they learn some livestock organizations such as the National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association are against the proposal, even though egg farmers support it and the proposed law deals only with eggs.
•    By a more than four-to-one margin, voters are more likely to support the bill than oppose it when they learn that some states like Ohio, California and Michigan have different laws dealing with the treatment of egg-laying hens, and that a national standard would level the playing field for all egg farmers in all states.
•    By a more than five-to-one margin, Ohio voters are more likely to vote for rather than vote against a congressional candidate who favors H.R. 3798.

The survey of 804 voters was conducted by Saperstein Associates during March 13-18, 2012, and the margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent. The full questions on egg-laying hens are below, and a complete copy of the survey results, which also included other animal welfare issues, is available here.

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The U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would establish national standards for the treatment of egg-laying hens. These standards would require egg-producers to replace existing cages with enriched colony housing cages. Enriched colony cages give each bird twice the space it currently has and provide perches, nesting boxes, and other forms of environmental enrichment that allow hens to express natural behaviors. These standards also would prohibit excessive levels of ammonia in henhouses, ban inhumane methods of euthanasia, and require a national labeling program so consumers have more information on egg cartons about the conditions in which hens are raised. Do you support or oppose this proposal?

71% Support
22% Oppose
7% Undecided
<1% Refused

The proposed law represents an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers, two groups that are sometimes adversaries, but have come together on this issue. It also is supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Ohio Egg Processors Association. These very different organizations agree that the proposed law is good for animals, consumers, and the egg industry. Does knowing this make you more inclined to support this proposal, more inclined to oppose it, or doesn’t that make a difference?

59% Support
6% Oppose
34% No difference
1% Undecided
<1% Refused

Some livestock and farm organizations – such as the National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the American Farm Bureau Federation – are against the proposal, even though egg farmers support it and the proposed law deals only with eggs. They claim that Congress should not be in the business of passing animal welfare laws, and see the proposal as yet another example of too much government regulation. Does knowing this make you more inclined to support the proposal, more inclined to oppose it, or doesn’t that make a difference?

33% Support
19% Oppose
46% No difference
2% Undecided
<1% Refused

Currently, some states like Ohio, California, and Michigan have different laws dealing with the treatment of egg-laying hens, which put egg farmers in some states at a competitive disadvantage. Eggs are a national commodity and are sold across the country, and the proposed law would level the playing field for egg-producers in all states. Does knowing this make you more inclined to support the proposed law, more inclined to oppose it, or doesn’t that make a difference?

44% Support
9% Oppose
46% No difference
1% Undecided
<1% Refused

Would you be inclined to vote for or against a congressional candidate who favors a national standard for the treatment of egg-laying hens – or wouldn’t that make a difference?

37% For
7% Against
54% No difference
1% Undecided
<1% Refused

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Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, 301-721-6440.

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