Northwest Egg-Laying Hens
As you may have read last week, NAIA strongly supports Oregon SB 805, a bill that would nearly triple the size of cages for the state's egg laying hens via enriched colony housing, and help make the state a national leader in progressive agriculture practices. Oregon's not the only state with a bill like this, though. Washington SB 5487 is quite similar, and is similarly backed by the state's legislature, the WSVMA, and Washington's egg farmers.
And it's driving the animal rights community absolutely bonkers.
Now why would somebody who claims to want better conditions for animals be so violently opposed to such laudable improvements? How could somebody who just wants hens to be able to "turn around and stretch their wings" despise a housing system that allows just that? Well, it's really quite simple: because these newer facilities are humane, sanitary, and safe for both hens and consumers... and thus nearly impossible to fight against in the court of public opinion. What this means for the animal rightists is fewer fundraising dollars, and far stiffer odds when they try to ban cages via ballot initiative.
They don't want chickens in agriculture, period, and a housing system that addresses the public's welfare concerns makes it harder, much harder, to incrementally chip away at animal agriculture and lead America down the road to veganville.
This incremental approach is laid out with unusual clarity by Miyun Park, an animal rights activist who has the distinction (?) of working not only with HSUS, but PETA, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. In this audio clip, after coming right out and saying she wants to see a vegan world with animal agriculture eliminated, she lets it slip that cage-free campaigns are merely a waypoint upon this path:
We have a very active cage-free campaign. Are we saying that cage-free eggs are the way to go? No, that’s not what we’re saying. But we’re saying it’s a step in the right direction, getting these birds out of cages so that maybe they can actually spread their wings.
Well, at least she gets points for honesty (though I'm sure her bosses didn't appreciate it).
Ah, but once egg farms in Oregon and Washington have been modernized, there will be no question that these hens can spread their wings -- which is a huge problem for folks like Miyun.
You see, they need cages to be as outdated, cramped, and filthy as possible. When animal agriculture stands up and makes positive changes for their animals, as it is in the Pacific Northwest, the animal rightists are left with only two options: fume ineffectually on the sidelines, or simply take their ball and go home.
But Don't Count Them out Just Yet
Hooo boy. Looks like HSUS's Paul Shapiro is at it again, still claiming these (very real) changes are just an "illusion." Uh, Paul -- I think the region's egg farmers who are spending millions of dollars to update and improve their facilities would beg to differ with your notion of "illusion."
The bill's lead sponsor, Sen. Mark Schoesler begs to differ as well:
"This bill meets the public concerns without putting commercial egg producers out of business."
Oh, so despite all the improvement for animals, the bill still doesn't put commercial egg producers out of business. So that's what's got the animal rights crowd so up in arms...
Why thank you for the clarification, Senator Schoesler!