Oregonians for Humane Farms is a coalition of veterinarians and animal welfare, family farming, food safety, and environmental groups working to improve the lives of egg-laying hens.
SALEM, Ore. (April 25, 2011)—Oregonians for Humane Farms submitted language to the Secretary of State to place a statewide measure on the November 2012 ballot. The coalition of veterinarians and animal welfare, family farming, food safety and environmental groups proposed a measure that will prevent animal cruelty, improve food safety, preserve the environment and protect consumers and small farmers.
The Oregon Legislature began the legislative session considering a bill (S.B. 805) to phase out inhumane confinement of laying hens in battery cages. About 2.5 million egg-laying hens in Oregon spend their entire lives inside these cages where each hen has less space than a sheet of paper and cannot even spread her wings.
However, S.B. 805 has been co-opted by special interests and the agribusiness industry and weakened by a series of crippling amendments. That bill now simply gives the illusion of reform, when in reality it codifies cage confinement of laying hens in tiny cages rather than providing for cage-free systems that offer higher animal welfare and improved food safety. The legislature’s bill provides just a slight increase of usable cage space for hens by current operators, but it delays full implementation of that provision until 2026 – an unreasonable and almost laughable delay. In short, S.B. 805 has too many loopholes, too many exceptions, and too long a time period to phase in just slightly improved conditions.
Oregonians for Humane Farms has put forward a measure that would provide real reform for the treatment of egg-laying hens, requiring that birds have enough room to fully extend their wings and engage in their natural behaviors, and that all eggs sold in the state are produced in compliance with this modest standard. The initiative would apply to the sale of all eggs including those purchased in cartons in the grocery store, as well as liquid eggs and egg products as already defined in Oregon statute. It would prevent the extreme confinement of all Oregon egg-laying hens in small cages where the animals can barely move for their entire lives. If approved by voters, the measure would take effect in 2019 – allowing for a more reasonable but still lengthy time frame to allow cage producers to transition to more humane housing systems.
“It is cruel and inhumane to cram hens into small cages, and it also threatens food safety, the environment and rural communities,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Cage-free egg production is a commercially-viable, affordable alternative that improves animal welfare and food safety and helps preserve family farms, and this ballot measure allows us to move in that direction in an extended, reasonable, and definite time frame.”
Editorial boards of The Oregonian and Register-Guard have weighed in with the need for significant improvement for egg-laying hens, including moving to cage-free conditions. Groups such as ASPCA and the Center for Food Safety have already endorsed the Oregonians for Humane Farms ballot initiative.
Michigan and California have passed laws to essentially phase out the use of battery cages to confine hens, and similar legislation is pending in other states. California also passed a law banning the sale of whole eggs from battery cages starting in 2015. In Washington, state residents are gathering signatures to place a similar measure on the November 2011 ballot.
• Extensive scientific research confirms that cage confinement of laying hens causes suffering and threatens food safety. All fifteen scientific studies published in the last five years comparing Salmonella contamination between caged and cage-free operations found that those confining hens in cages had higher rates of Salmonella.
• Many of Oregon’s restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, and schools have joined the national movement away from serving consumers eggs from caged hens.
• Major food manufacturers and retailers—including Kraft, Sara Lee, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Unilever, Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Subway, Sonic, Quiznos, Red Robin, Hardee’s and Carl's Jr.—have started to use cage-free eggs.
• Factory egg farms that confine animals in tiny cages slash costs by hiring very few people. Cage-free egg farms create jobs by hiring more workers because they must actually engage in meaningful animal husbandry.
• Massive egg factories cut corners by confining hens in cruel and inhumane cages, and by doing so, they push out smaller farms that simply can’t compete.
Please complete this form below and sign-up to join Oregonians for Humane Farms.