CALIFORNIA: Improving conditions for egg-laying hens
Posted: July 21st, 2010 - 8:41pm
Source: New York Times
Gene Gregory, President, United Egg Producers, Alpharetta, Ga., writes to say
in your July 12 editorial “A Humane Egg,” you disparage the modern, sanitary housing systems for egg-laying hens, which have improved chickens’ health and well-being, improved consumer food safety and kept eggs a nutritious and economical staple on kitchen tables and restaurant menus nationwide.
These modern systems allow hens to stand up, turn around, lie down and walk to clean water and nutritious food troughs. Groups like the American Veterinary Medical Association support these modern egg-laying housing systems.
The California law adds an arbitrary and unscientific requirement that chickens be prohibited from touching one another or the side of any enclosure. Yet there is no scientific proof that the requirement will improve chicken well-being or food safety.
The new law will cost American family farmers, and ultimately California consumers, hundreds of millions of dollars.
Regina Weiss of Brooklyn writes that today, tens of thousands of American farmers don’t even own the livestock they raise, and the conditions they raise animals in are dictated to them by a handful of extremely powerful companies that are concerned only with the bottom line.
So while The Times is to be commended for continuing to highlight the many terrible aspects of factory farms, including inhumane confinement practices, let’s not forget that because of the extraordinary consolidation and vertical integration of American agriculture over the last 60-plus years, American farmers are enduring extraordinary suffering as well.
Inhumane confinement, illegal anticompetitive practices and factory farming hurt animals, the environment, the consumer, the public health and the farmer. Reversing the agricultural trends of the last half century is a policy area where almost everyone’s interests are aligned.