Controversy Brewing over Poultry Cage Size

Farm groups voice oppostion to propsed bill based on HSUS and United Egg agreement.

Published on: Jan 4, 2012

Several farm organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, have signed a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee calling for the rejection of additional, costly and unnecessary animal rights mandates proposed by the Humane Society of the United States. A bill is being prepared by Oregon Representative Kurt Schrader that would set federal standards for the welfare of egg-laying hens. 

The standards would allow for larger, enriched-colony cages and phase out smaller cages over 15 to 18 years at what the United Egg Producers has estimated to be a cost of $4 billion. Opposing groups have estimated the cost to be $10 billion. According to the letter, the bill is based on an agreement between Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers and counters efforts to unshackle our economy from additional government regulation.

Controversy Brewing over Poultry Cage Size
Controversy Brewing over Poultry Cage Size

Speaking of the opposition, Chris Huckleberry, legislative director for Representative Schrader, says - this is pretty transformational so it will be a heavy lift regardless of the opposition. He adds, - these groups are doing what they perceive they have to. They are a bunch of well-funded and well-organized groups that know what they are doing.

The other groups that signed the letter are: National Farmers Union, American Sheep Industry Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council and National Turkey Federation.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    As a society on the whole we have become dependent upon large scale industry to supply our needs. Fewer people than ever are raising their own food. Making changes in the animals-for-food industry is going to be painful to the producers, no doubt, but it should be possible with some creative thought. If it's ethical, shouldn't it be successful? Is it necessary to engage in practices that hurt others for the sake of making a living? Somewhere along the line those who raise animals for food have become callous to the needs and feelings of the animals that are in their care: yes, feelings, especially the feelings of mammals. They suffer emotionally and physically for lack of a suitable environment, separation from their young, the fear of death when going to slaughter, pain from a botched slaughter, or the fear of being restrained to perform the necessary tasks that keep them marketable and able to live in confinement with each other. These things are partly the price paid for living in an imperfect world, but what can we do to minimize suffering? I believe that decades of raising animals in these conditions have contributed to their degeneration mentally and thus they may appear to be content in these unsuitable, nonstimulating environments. But in my experience with animals in general - when they are given more attention and a proper caring environment - they will thrive, a personality will likely emerge and the sensitivities of the individual creature will be seen. Where and when did we decide it was okay to disregard the basic needs and feelings of animals? Perhaps it was the ideas that came about with industrialization and modernization; I do understand that it is the world we live in now. However, wouldn't it be ideal if people would endeavor to develop their own resources to avoid purchasing products from companies who have sacrificed a caring heart for increased production? It's impossible to guarantee the treatment of the animals processed in purchased foods, unless you know the producer personally, is it not? I have come to the place where I never buy meat or eat meat from somewhere that I can't know that the animal was raised and slaughtered humanely. That means I only consume meat from an ethical hunter, or from people whom I know personally, that raise their own animals, and in whom I have confidence regarding their treatment of animals. It's a radical concept, but to me it is the only answer. I can also eat a vegetarian diet and be content, which I mostly do. My fiancee's family raise their own meat so this has somewhat changed my habits, as well as opened my eyes to the perspective of the animal product producers. We have the right to make choices as individuals. For me, giving up meat was not difficult and, in the end, meat just doesn't appeal to me anymore. Food for thought.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I eat meat and although I’m not happy animals die to enable that, death is a part of nature. However, an animal suffering its whole life by being kept in a small cage is not natural. Being rather tall and having been on long flights seated in the coach section, I can relate to the pain and stiffness that come from not being able to move and stretch. Imagine doing that your whole life! I think it is despicable that the American Farm Bureau Federation opposes the new chicken cages! I am only one person, but I have some small voice as a consumer. I would happily pay a few cents extra knowing the animal I am eating had a reasonably good life. I think industry sometimes goes to far in pursuit of efficiency and profit. In protest, I will no longer buy beef or pork, but will eat poultry and fish instead. I did not buy gas from Exxon until the BP spill. Now I don’t buy from BP. It’s what one consumer can do. I urge others to do the same.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Our chickens enjoyed free range and scratched out some of their living while free ranging. Perhaps we should go from Roosevelt's, 'a chicken in every pot.' - to Half a dozen chickens in every yard. The FDA announced they would no longer try to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed. A study found that up to half of US meat was contaminated with antibiotic-resistant staph. The agriculture industry stridently opposes legislative and regulatory In 2008, the F.D.A. proposed to tightly limit the use of cephalosporins, but this new rule falls well short of that, thanks to intense lobbying by farm and pharmaceutical industries." A steady drop in meat consumption in the US and tells us that the Daily Livestock Report suggests that the government has been "wag[ing] war on meat protein consumption" over the last 30-40 years. comments on that a history of subsidies for the corn and soy that's fed to livestock a nearly free pass on environmental degradation and animal abuse an unwillingness to meaningfully limit the use of antibiotics in animal feed a failure to curb the stifling power that corporate meatpackers wield over smaller ranchers and what amounts to a refusal - despite the advice of real, disinterested experts, true scientists in fact - to unequivocally tell American consumers that they should be eating less meat." Both the editorial and Bittman's blog set the stage for letters to the editor about the unfortunate lobbying influence of the meat industry and its impact on the US public's health -- health being harmed by the consumption of what the industry likes to call "animal protein" and by the antibiotics that come with that protein.

  4. Anonymous says:

    One thing I like about the U.S. is our choice to choose! There is not enough space to have ONLY cage-free eggs and grass fed beef ! Nor can we all afford this only one choice!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I've been around chickens, they are not dogs or horses, they do not need to run! they are content to just sit there in the nest! There are an awful lot of people that cannot afford the higher cost of range-free eggs! Why listen to the HSUS ? They want to DO AWAY with meat, milk, and eggs!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The answer to chciken welfare- and all farm animal welfare - is free range. I've lived on a farm all of my 80+ years and our animals were never caged. Get rid of these animal cruelty factory filth farms that do not produce fit food and contaminate the environment. We certainly do not buy meat from grocery stores any more.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am going to side with the chickens on this one. The animal industry has gone way beyond, in the treatment of animals. It has forgot, the very base fact that intential cruelty is never acceptable. Just because these animals are producing a product for us, doesn't mean they have to be treated so badly. On top of that is the health issues caused by confinement, the health in turn of the product. There is a reason that egss sell for 4 dollars a dozen at farmers markets. It is because they tasted awesome, look great, and you know the chicken who laid them was treated right. Do you not realize that all these food systems that are so bad, are coming back to bite us all? Look around you PLEASE look around at the issues that face us? Don't you see?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The agreement between UEP and HSUS is just plain wrong. HSUS is in no way qualified to make any recommendations on animal welfare. Enriched-colony cages are not the answer for chicken welfare.

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