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.
Coalition calls for meaningful reform and safer egg production
SALEM, Ore. (June 22, 2011)—Oregonians for Humane Farms submitted 1,863 signatures to the Secretary of State today to satisfy the first legal requirement to begin the main signature gathering phase for a measure to prevent animal cruelty, preserve the environment and protect consumers and small farmers.
The coalition of animal welfare, veterinarians, family farming, food safety and environmental groups is advancing a measure that requires that egg-laying hens have enough room to turn around and extend their wings and that all eggs sold in the state are produced in compliance with this modest standard.
The legislature recently passed a weak, industry-backed measure that, for the most part, doesn’t even take effect until 2026 and has too many loopholes, provides too little space, and takes far too long to implement. The citizen ballot initiative, if approved by voters, would address the worst factory farm abuses by phasing in cage-free conditions by 2019.
“Oregonians know that locking these birds in cramped cages for their whole lives is indefensible,” said Kelly Peterson, co-chief petitioner of the measure for Oregonians for Humane Farms. “All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food.”
About 2.5 million egg-laying hens in Oregon spend their entire lives inside cages so small, each hen has less standing space than a sheet of paper and cannot even spread her wings. This type of caging is not only cruel, but a threat to food safety. All 16 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.
A major movement away from cages has taken root across the country. Michigan and California have passed laws to phase out the use of battery cages, and similar legislation is pending in other states. California also passed a law requiring that all whole eggs sold statewide be battery cage-free by 2015.
“Treating egg-laying hens like machinery and packing them in cages where they can’t even flap their wings is inhumane. The only way this inhumane practice will stop is through legislation,” said Dr. Kristin Sulis, DVM, a Portland veterinarian and co-chief petitioner of Oregonians for Humane Farms.
Many 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.
• Extensive scientific research confirms that cage confinement of hens causes suffering and threatens food safety.
• Many of Oregon’s businesses support the national movement away from serving consumers eggs from caged hens.
• 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.
Anna West: 301-258-1518, email@example.com
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