December 2017: Why we support this bill
In 2009, the Michigan legislature passed a law that phased in bans on certain confinement practices for farmed animals. Gestating sows, calves raised for veal and egg laying hens were covered. These animals could not be confined in a manner to prevent them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely.
The standards were phased in, with the ones for veal calves becoming effective in 2012. Producers were given until 2020 to implement the standards for sows and egg laying hens.
SB 660 would extend the time for compliance with the standards for egg-laying hens from 2020 to 2025. In turn, the bill expands the animal welfare standards to all eggs sold in Michigan, regardless of where the chicken laid the egg; and explicitly connects extreme confinement to stress and to resulting negative effects on human health, safety and welfare.
“It broadens the coverage of the animal care standards to all shell eggs sold within
Michigan … regardless of where the eggs were produced
—even out of state. This significantly increases the number of farms
that must comply with the more humane standards, and,
importantly, the number of egg laying hens who will not be
subject to extreme confinement”
The bill also makes a direct connection between hens exposed to extreme confinement and the health of humans who consume their eggs: “The legislature finds that eggs derived from egg-laying hens that are exposed to significant stress may result in deleterious
effects on the health, safety, and welfare of consumers, such as increased exposure to disease pathogens, including salmonella, and have negative fiscal impacts on this state.”
In the intervening years since the bill passed, there has been something of a revolution in public attitudes toward extreme confinement of egg-laying hens in battery cages. As a result, many corporations in the food, restaurant, grocery and hospitality industries are now demanding that their suppliers provide cage-free eggs. However, many of these contracts requiring humanely produced eggs will not go into effect until around 2025. It is our understanding that the legislature is being asked to extend the time for compliance with the new standards so that they coincide with the timeframe being demanded by the corporations who purchase the eggs.
While not supporting the extention of time for these animal welfare standards to take effect, the AFA board voted to support SB 660 because on balance it would positively effect many more animals when the standards are in place. Read our letter here.