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Monday, March 12, 2012

Newspapers Press for Hen Protections

HenI wrote last week about the diverse coalition of stakeholders backing federal legislation to improve the treatment of 280 million egg-laying hens—including animal protection, egg industry, veterinary, agricultural, and consumer organizations. Newspapers from around the country have weighed in as well, calling on federal lawmakers to act swiftly, and today I’d like to provide a round-up of some of the newspaper editorials endorsing H.R. 3798. Please take a look, and then take action by asking your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators to pass this bill.

Philadelphia Inquirer: “The congressional legislation that has resulted from this unusual alliance shows a good balance between real-world egg-production practices and the idealistic goal of free-range chicken farming…. Congress, though, has a clear mandate to act from the farmers who know best how they want their eggs done.

San Diego Union-Tribune: “This bill, H.R. 3798, deserves swift enactment. And the process by which it even got this far ought to be a model for politically warring factions everywhere.”

The New York Times: “It’s well past time to create a national standard that promotes more humane conditions everywhere. Yet the American Farm Bureau Federation, a trade group for farmers, the National Pork Producers Council, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association oppose the bill. They seem to fear that common sense and a humane regard for the well-being of farm animals will spread to their own industries.”

Salem (Ore.) Statesman Journal and Green Bay (Wisc.) Press Gazette: “The legislation exemplifies how traditional adversaries can put aside their distrust and work together for each side’s mutual benefit. As lead sponsor, Schrader deserves credit for his role on H.R. 3798. Congress should pass it. Soon.”

Los Angeles Times: “A federal law is the only way to mandate uniform standards, and this smart and focused measure is supported by the United Egg Producers, which represents 88% of the nation's egg farmers. As legislation goes, it's a good egg.”

The Oregonian: “It's no sure thing that Congress will approve the national standard; pig producers opposed to any national farm standards already are raising objections. But the agreement on laying hens is a fair compromise.”

Albany (Ore.) Democrat Herald: “We know that animals feel discomfort and pain. We know that bad conditions can cause them great distress. Because the animals are in our power and helpless, we must avoid cruelty at all costs. Congress should pass the bill.”

Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News: “This is an important measure, especially in Pennsylvania, which is the third-largest egg producer in the country….This is not just about providing better conditions for chickens, although that is important. The changes also give consumers better information about the eggs they buy. Wording will specify how the animals that laid their eggs are kept—from caged hens to those that are free to roam.”

Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star: “Allowing hens a little room to spread their wings and places to perch, nest, and scratch seems pretty reasonable….The accord between the HSUS and the egg producers is something to crow about.”

Clarksville (Tenn.) Leaf Chronicle: “Federal regulation of eggs and other agricultural products is not new. Most people in the egg industry want this updated legislation because it sets a uniform playing field for everyone instead of having states develop their own standards. Furthermore, evidence suggests that hens' egg production increases at farms that have installed the new cages.”

Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat: “There also are significant political obstacles, starting with cattlemen and other livestock interests who oppose the bill. But the same organizations successfully challenged a California law governing slaughterhouses, arguing in court that federal standards should prevail. Fair enough, let the same approach extend to egg farms.”

Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune: “Compromise offered the best possible outcome. Federal rules would benefit all 280 million hens rather than just 6 million Washington cluckers. The egg industry would get a nationwide standard to live by rather than a hodgepodge of state laws, and voters won’t have to make the call about how best to balance animal welfare and commerce. Would that more groups were able to settle their differences in such a way, without forcing the electorate into all-or-nothing scenarios that rarely come without major complications.”


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