The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 S. 820/H.R. 1731 is a bipartisan bill proposed by legislators such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Reps. Kurt Schrader (D, OR), Jeff Denham (R, CA), Sam Farr (D, CA), and Mike Fitzpatrick (R, PA). It establishes a minimum federal standard for egg production that would satisfy conflicting state laws concerning the same measure. This bill has been promoted by both animal welfare activists as well as egg producers such as United Egg Producers that represents over 90 percent of egg producing farmers in the United States.
The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 proposes:
- A phase-in method that would require that conventional cages be replaced by colony housing systems that will double the space chickens are allowed.
- Environmental improvements that offer perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas to facilitate their natural behavior.
- Mandate labeling on all egg cartons in the US that state: “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.
- Require standards of euthanasia of egg-laying hens supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
- Restrict the ammonia levels found in hen houses.
- Prohibit the transport and sale of egg products that do not meet these specifications.
- Explicitly state that this bill applies only to commercial egg production.
The purview of this bill is to improve the substandard conditions of egg-laying hens. It is an improvement to the already substandard (to say the least) conditions that hens suffer for egg production. Hens are currently offered 48 to 67 square inches of space. This measure would increase their spaces to a minimum of 124 to 144 square inches of space over the next 15 to 16 years. California has an approved measure that would implement these conditions sooner.
This bill being supported by both the Humane Society and egg production farmers does improve hens’ living conditions while sustaining the egg industry. It is a bipartisan compromise and one worthy of support by both sides of the aisle. That said, this bill merely offers slight relief to the conditions hens must suffer for the commercial egg industry. The horrible fact is, this bill needs support by anyone favoring the improvement of hens’ living standards. It’s a double edged sword, and in my opinion does not go far enough. It needs support however, and anything is better than nothing.
Below are videos uncovering the conditions of hens who are forced to produce their embryonic fluid for human consumption.
- California’s hen law at center of farm bill fight (sfgate.com)
- http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2013/04/egg-products-inspection-act-2013-042513.html#.UpkB0-LN1Eo (humanesociety.org)
- End Of The Egg? ‘Fake Egg’ Company Aims To Replace 79 Billion Chicken Eggs Laid Each Year (civileats.com)
- https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1731/text (govtrack.us)