The 280 million egg-laying hens in the United States — and their farmers — are one step closer to having uniform standards for humane housing and care. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress has introduced the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012. The legislation is the result of a long-needed meeting of the minds between animal welfare advocates and Big Egg: American egg farmers would have a level playing field and hens would have more space.
After years of battles with animal welfare advocates pushing for legislation to upgrade the squalid conditions in which most egg-producing hens are kept, a number of states passed new laws, while others did not. Farmers complained that the country was left with a patchwork of conflicting laws governing the farming and selling of eggs that threatened to undermine their businesses. In California, for example, the egg industry and this page were opposed to Proposition 2, the successful 2008 ballot measure banning cramped cages for egg-laying hens, on the grounds that it would disadvantage California farmers competing against sellers of cheaper eggs from states without a similar requirement. Since then, the state has approved a supplemental measure that forbids the sale of eggs in the state from farmers who do not follow the same practices as California's.