Animal Rights Legislation: Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013

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.

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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.

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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.

Animal Rights Legislation: Puppy Protection Act

I would like to focus on animal rights measures considered at the federal level. This will be the first article in a series I will be writing concerning the broad aspect of animal rights legislation. In this article we will analyze the Puppy Protection Act S. 1478/HR 3058 (PPA) that was defeated by the 107th Congress in 2002.

The bill was first presented by Senators Rick Santorum (R, PA) and Dick Durbin (D, IL). It was an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) but was subsequently defeated by the US House of Representatives. The Farm bill H.R. 2646 was passed by the House, however, it did not include the puppy mill provision. The PPA imposed limits on litters for breeding females, a minimum breeding age of one year for females, and also a three strikes rule for violators. The bill would also oversee proper socialization among dogs and humans as well to minimize behavioral issues.

Below you will find a link to sourcewatch.com containing information that outlines the definition of puppy mills.

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The PPA would have protected laboratory animals along with breeding done commercially by kennels and pet stores. Lobbyists opposed to this bill can be accredited for its defeat. Such lobbyists include The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This organization has made it known that it puts science above the emotions people feel towards animals, particularly in their opposition to ending the force feeding of ducks for the production of foie gras. Foie gras is the cruel treatment of ducks that causes their liver to swell so that people in high end restaurants can consume these duck livers. The AVMA is an organization that, despite its name, puts the agricultural industry ahead of the welfare of defenseless creatures subjected to inhumane, and many times outrageous, treatment. Other lobbyists in opposition to the PPA also include the American Kennel Club (AKC) which proclaims to be a “national organization devoted to the advancement and welfare of pure-bred dogs”. In truth, they are an organization that has lobbied aggressively in favor of commercial breeding and has opposed several humane treatment legislation bills such as the PPA. They strongly promote the breeding of pure bred dogs and spend much of their time, money, and resources on any limitations to the commercial industry for the purpose of humane treatment. Patti Strand, a board member of the AKC who also co-founded the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) had this to say in a statement about the PPA bill:

“The PPA was inspired by special interest groups that fund raise using emotional animal welfare issues. As such, it was based on sound bites and depended on evidence from those who aim to restrict all dog breeding. NAIA supports the AKC’s conclusion that there is no basis in current science and no consensus among breeders, veterinarians or animal behaviorists as to what constitutes acceptable socialization standards.”

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The commercial trade of animals is at the forefront of the opposition to their humane treatment. Claims of emotional reasoning are used in their attacks. Emotional reasoning is certainly correct and is hardly a reason to write off animal activists and/or legislation favoring the humane and ethical treatment of animals. To oppose this presumes that these living creatures have no right to independence and freedom, and that they are simply on earth for human beings to exploit and commodify. It is a gross injustice to disregard the abuses of animals for the promotion of human development and commerce. Arguments against animal suffering needs no scientific analysis proving their worth. We, as a species ourselves, must respect their existence and treatment as we are all members of the animal kingdom.