Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) is continuing his work to improve animal welfare standards while supporting the California egg industry, by signing on as an original co-sponsor of the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 (H.R. 1731). The new bipartisan federal legislation, authored by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), is the result of an agreement reached between the egg industry and animal welfare groups.
During his time in the California State Assembly, Huffman wrote AB 1437, a bill to close a potential loophole in 2008's Proposition 2, which had set a uniform state standard for egg production. Huffman's bipartisan bill, signed into law in 2010, prevented out-of-state egg producers from circumventing the state's landmark farm animal confinement standards.
Currently, U.S. egg producers face a patchwork of state laws: farmers from California will produce eggs under the regulations set by Proposition 2 while other states operate under other rules. This bill would level the playing field and establish uniform federal standards.
"Americans deserve high standards for food safety, public health, and animal welfare, and this bill is an important step to create a strong national standard," Congressman Huffman said. "I'm looking forward to building on my work in California to ensure economic security for our farmers, humane treatment for egg-laying hens, and enhance consumer choice."
"I'm proud to continue to work with Congressman Huffman to protect farmers and egg-laying hens, just as we did in the California State Assembly," said Arnie Riebli, President of the Association of California Egg Farmers. "Passage of this bill will help California egg producers like me, and would mean that small businesses will no longer have to navigate the patchwork of state laws."
"The agreement forged in this legislation would greatly improve egg-laying hen welfare across the country," said Jennifer Fearing, California state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "We are encouraged by the bipartisan efforts to strengthen legal protections for animals, and are thankful for Congressman Huffman's continued efforts on this important issue."
The new federal legislation requires conventional cages be replaced with new, enriched housing systems that provide egg-laying hens greater space, perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas. The bill mandates labeling on all egg cartons nationwide of the method used to produce the eggs, from "eggs from caged hens," "eggs from hens in enriched cages," "eggs from cage-free hens," and "eggs from free-range hens." The cage size reforms would be phased in gradually in order to allow the egg industry sufficient time to adapt.