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August 14, 2012

Indiana’s Egg Farmers and The HSUS Call on Indiana’s Congressional Delegation to Support Egg Industry Reform Bill

Measure will improve welfare for hens, provide orderly transition to improved standards

United Egg Producers

The Humane Society of the United States, the United Egg Producers, and representatives from all of Indiana’s major egg farms gathered at the Indiana State Fair to call on Indiana’s members of Congress to join Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind. and Andre Carson, D-Ind. in supporting the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 (S. 3239/H.R. 3798). The House bill has 142 cosponsors and the Senate bill 17, and it has been endorsed by newspaper editorial boards throughout the country, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Consumer Federation of America, and more than 1,000 other organizations and farmers. Indiana is the third largest egg producing state in the country.

The legislation would demonstrably improve conditions for all 280 million hens involved in U.S. egg production over a staggered phase-in period. The legislation is the product of an agreement between HSUS and the United Egg Producers, which supports the bill not only because of the enhanced animal welfare provisions, but also because it provides certainty and a level playing field for its members in producing eggs for the next generation.

“America’s egg producers have continually worked to improve animal welfare, and we strongly believe our commitment to a national standard for hen welfare is in the best interest of our animals, customers and consumers,” said Bob Krouse, past chairman of UEP and an Indiana egg farmer. “We are committed to working together for the good of the hens in our care and believe a national standard is far superior than a patchwork of state laws and regulations that would be cumbersome for our customers and confusing to consumers.” 

“If we want to improve the lives of more than 250 million lays hens, and give consumers more information in the marketplace about their food choices, we must pass this compromise bill,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “When traditional adversaries agree on a way forward for the nation, Congress should embrace that process and get fully behind the end goal.”

The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendment of 2012 would: 

  • require conventional cages to be replaced during an ample phase-in period with new, enriched colony housing systems that provide each egg-laying hen nearly double the amount of current space; 
  • require that, after a phase-in period, all egg-laying hens be provided with environmental enrichments, such as perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas, that will allow hens to express natural behaviors;
  • require labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs: “eggs from caged hens,” “eggs from hens in enriched cages,” “eggs from cage-free hens” and “eggs from free-range hens”;
  • prohibit feed- or water-withdrawal molting to extend the laying cycle, a practice already prohibited by the United Egg Producers Certified program;
  • require standards approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association for euthanasia of egg-laying hens;
  • prohibit excessive ammonia levels in henhouses; and
  • prohibit the transport and sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these requirements.

If enacted, the proposal would require egg producers to increase space per hen in a tiered phase-in, with the amount of space hens are given increasing, in intervals, over the next 15 to 18 years. Phase-in schedules are more rapid in California, consistent with a ballot initiative approved earlier by that state’s voters. Currently, the majority of hens are each provided 67 square inches of space, with up to 50 million receiving just 48 square inches. The proposed phase-in would culminate with a minimum of 124 square inches of space for white hens and 144 for brown hens nationwide.

Media Contacts:

HSUS: Anna West, 757-575-0079, awest@humanesociety.org

UEP: Jewanna Porter, 404-367-2761, jporter@golinharris.com

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