Another state moves for better housing for egg-laying hens

The Farm Sanctuary is reporting Washington is the latest state to make hay on the issue of farm-animal confinement.

Washingtonians for Humane Farms has submitted language to the Secretary of State, for a statewide measure on November’s ballot.

From the Washingtonians for Humane Farms press release –

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The measure would require that egg-laying hens have enough room to turn around and extend their wings and that eggs sold in the state are produced in compliance with this humane standard. It would prevent one of the worst factory farm abuses: the extreme confinement of egg-laying hens in small cages where the animals can barely move for their entire lives. If approved by voters, the measure would take effect in 2018, giving producers more than six years to transition to more humane housing systems.

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It’s a step in the right direction. I wish the regulations could be even stronger, to allow more freedom for the hens. But I know this is probably a compromise. Even with these standards, folks on the other side will scream that the costs will be too high.

The remaining portion of the press release contains really important information, so here it is –

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About six million egg-laying hens in Washington spend their entire lives inside cages where each hen has less space than a sheet of paper. Factory farms that cram egg-laying hens into tiny cages are not only cruel, but they threaten food safety. All thirteen scientific studies published in the last five years comparing Salmonella contamination between caged and cage-free operations found that those confining hens in cages had higher rates of Salmonella.

Across the country, a major movement away from cages has taken root. Michigan and California have passed laws to phase out the use of cages to confine hens, and similar legislation is pending in other states. California also passed a law requiring that all whole eggs sold statewide be cage-free by 2015.

“Like all animals, farm animals have feelings and they deserve to be protected from cruelty,” stated Gene Baur, President and Co-Founder of Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization. “Treating egg-laying hens like inanimate tools of production and packing them in cages where they can’t even flap their wings is inhumane and it should be illegal.”

And major food manufacturers and retailers—including Kraft, Sara Lee, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Unilever, Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Subway, Sonic, Quiznos, Red Robin, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.—have started to use cage-free eggs.

Facts

– Extensive scientific research confirms that cage confinement of laying hens causes suffering and threatens food safety.
– Many of Washington’s restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, and schools have joined the national movement away from serving consumers eggs from caged hens.
– Factory egg farms that confine animals in tiny cages slash costs by hiring very few people. Cage-free egg farms create jobs by hiring more workers because they must actually engage in meaningful animal husbandry.
– Massive egg factories cut corners by confining hens in cruel and inhumane cages, and by doing so, they push out smaller farms that simply can’t compete.

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