HB 5987: Broken Promise for Michigan’s Hens

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By Compassion Over Killing [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Battery Cages; by Compassion Over Killing, [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Battery cages: this is how millions of egg-laying hens in Michigan spend their lives.

A state law passed in 2009 requires egg producers to phase out battery cages, giving them 10+ years or until the year 2020 to do so. The law’s humane (and modest) requirements are that hen must be able to fully extend her limbs, without touching the side of an enclosure, and to have at least 1 square foot of floor space.

Now HB 5987 is likely on its way to the House floor (and then on to the state Senate) for a vote during the waning days of this legislative session. It’s an early holiday gift to egg producers because it would give them an additional 5+ years to comply with the more humane standards, from March 31, 2020 until October 12, 2025. That’s an additional 2,021 days for hens to languish in extreme confinement.

Please call your state representative to oppose this legislation. Tell your legislator to do the right thing and prevent battery cages from being the norm for these sensitive creatures for an additional 5 years, 6 months and 11 days!


Nov. 9, 2016: AFA Testifies before MI House Agriculture Committee to Oppose HB 5987

AFA was there to speak up on behalf of the hens, and to remind legislators of the history of the existing law, which was a compromise brokered fair and square between animal advocates and the ag industry, and which now could be unilaterally changed. In 2009 Michigan animal advocates were poised to start an initiative campaign to ban three of the most brutal of intensive agriculture practices, including the battery cage. Rather than face a lengthy campaignwhich would subject their practices to public scrutiny and a vote, agriculture industry representatives agreed to a bill.

“[a]fter much debate, the bill  …  banned battery cages,

gestation crates, and veal crates

but allowed farmers ample time

— ten years— to transition to compliance with the new law”

The quid pro quo behind the  2009 law: agribusiness avoided a lengthy (and likely losing) initiative campaign in exchange for an “ample” phase-in of the more humane practices. Not convinced there was a negotiated deal? Read a 2011 official analysis from Michigan’s  House Fiscal Agency, from which the above quote is excerpted. Read AFA’s letter opposing this bill.

It is unwise, unfair, inhumane — and an unnecessary and backward move — to delay more these basic humane standards for millions of hens – in order to give egg-producers a further, lengthy extension.