Humane Farming Association (HFA)
[Ed.Note: Stop the Rotten Egg Bill: Fight the Egg Industry’s Attempt to Keep Hens in Cages Forever.]
The Humane Farming Association (HFA) today (4/18/12) announced the escalation of its campaign to stop the "Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012" (HR 3798). Referred to by many as the Rotten Egg Bill, HR 3798 was introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader earlier this year. A Senate version is expected.
"The egg industry is seeking to establish egg factory cages as a national standard that could never be challenged or changed by state law or public vote," said Bradley Miller, National Director of the Humane Farming Association. "This bill would preempt state laws, such as California's Proposition 2, and is a direct assault upon egg laying hens, voters, and states' rights."
HR 3798 would codify a controversial agreement between the United Egg Producers (UEP) — the egg industry trade association recently sued for an alleged price-fixing scheme — and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) which is now endorsing the same egg factory cages it previously opposed.
Animated Short Released
HFA is releasing today an animated short entitled A Cage Is A Cage, which exposes the true nature of the Rotten Egg Bill (HR 3798). Told from a laying hen's perspective, the piece highlights the fact that the bill would "trade one cruel metal cage for another, even though most people want hens out of cages." Watch A Cage Is A Cage on youtube.
"The Rotten Egg Bill would be disastrous for laying hens who would be forever locked in cages — as well as for millions of voters whose rights would be traded away for the sake of egg industry politics. A Cage Is A Cage drives home these points in just 90 seconds," said Miller.
UEP Price Fixing
The Humane Farming Association is also expanding its ad campaign to further expose UEP's price-fixing scandal. UEP and several of the egg companies it represents have been sued repeatedly for alleged illegal price fixing, paying $25 million to settle allegations that they illegally manipulated the price and supply of eggs under the guise of instituting standards for animal welfare.
With active lawsuits pending against them from companies such as General Mills and Kraft Foods — UEP and its co-defendants are asking Congress to codify a set of standards that would, in effect, provide legal cover for the very activities of which they stand accused.
"According to the bill's own sponsor, this bill has been introduced to protect the economic interests of the egg industry," said Miller. "The American public overwhelmingly supports the banning of egg factory cages, not measures such as this which subvert the will of the people."
Widespread Opposition From Animal Organizations, Advocates
"There is no such thing as an 'enriched' battery cage. HR 3798 is an outrageous attempt by the egg industry and its cohorts to enrich themselves at the expense of laying hens and the public at large," said Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals.
"The cages defined by the legislation will in no meaningful way reduce the unimaginable suffering endured by the hens," said Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Professor Emeritus of Veterinary Medicine at U.C. Davis. (Read full statement here.)
"Even if HR 3798 passes, the majority of hens will remain entombed in battery cages on factory farms," said Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns. "They will be locked into a federal law administered by the USDA which does not even enforce the 54-year-old 'Humane Slaughter Act.'"
"We urge people to contact their federal representatives to oppose this bill. Rather than outlawing cages, as voters demand, this cynical measure would outlaw the banning of cages," said Miller.
In addition to the Humane Farming Association, opponents of HR 3798 include Friends of Animals, United Poultry Concerns, Last Chance for Animals, Action for Animals, Northwest Animal Rights Network, Defend Animals Coalition, Political Animals, Animals Unlimited, Sunnyskies Bird and Animal Sanctuary, SAFE, Chicken Run Rescue, Associated Humane Societies, and the vast majority of rank and file animal advocates.
HFA Responds to the Rotten Egg Bill's Window Dressing:
For political cover, UEP inserted a few diversionary provisions. None of them holds up to scrutiny.
Ammonia Levels: The Rotten Egg Bill contains nothing that alters current standards for "ammonia levels." The bill merely duplicates UEP's existing standards (which allow unhealthful levels of ammonia) and seeks to put that into federal law.
Forced Molting and Euthanasia: As for ending the practice of forced molting of hens by "starvation" and water deprivation – egg companies do not advocate that to begin with. Far from changing any currently accepted molting practice, the bill merely adopts UEP's own existing standards. The same goes for "euthanasia" standards and other empty provisions tossed in to distract from the central issue: keeping hens in cages.
UEP's Game of Inches: Prior to the Rotten Egg Bill, the egg industry passed state legislation calling for 116 square inches of cage space per hen. With a mere 8 square inch adjustment, UEP's federal bill calls for a still cruel and depriving 124 square inches per hen – "phased-in" over 18 years. This token modification does not "double" the cage space from what UEP has already advocated as a standard. The bill's own proponents have stated that a hen needs at least 216 square inches just to spread her wings.
Fraudulent Labeling: As far as labeling egg cartons, UEP's Rotten Egg Bill certainly would do that. For the very first time, the fraudulent term "enriched" cages would begin appearing on egg cartons nationwide – in order to deflect public concern – and to increase egg sales from caged hens.
The position of the Humane Farming Association and other responsible activists and organizations remains clear:
About HFA: The Humane Farming Association spearheads a national campaign against factory farming. It also operates the nation's largest farm animal rescue and refuge facility. Founded in 1985, and over 250,000 members strong, HFA is nationally recognized and respected for its hard work, integrity, and its highly successful campaigns.
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