The campaign for strict hen-rights rules has won out in California. Starting in 2015, cages will have to be large enough for the birds to stand up, lie down and spread their wings without touching each other or the sides of the cage. California voters adopted these rules for in-state egg producers two years ago. Last week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that extended the rules to out-of-state producers who want to sell their eggs in California.
Personally, although I applaud the movement toward the prevention of cruelty in egg producing hens, it simply isn’t enough for the betterment of the hen’s life. But I don’t want to criticize any progress on the farm-animal rights movement. Perhaps is a small step, but I hope it isn’t the only and last step in making conditions better for the food-producing animals of our nation. At least, what is driving the animal-rights movement today is a surprisingly strong level of popular support. When California’s egg referendum was on the ballot in 2008, it won in a landslide, taking more than 63% of the vote.
In the meantime, animal-rights activists have also been targeting foie gras in recent years because it is made by force-feeding ducks and geese in a way that is unnatural and cruel. So far, the state of California has banned force-feeding to create foie gras, and Hawaii is currently considering banning the sale of the delicacy. Also, Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio – a major farm state – brokered a deal between the Farm Bureau and the Humane Society. In exchange for the farm group’s commitment to work toward a list of tough new animal-rights laws – including phasing out a particularly harsh kind of crate for pregnant sows and banning the strangulation of pigs and cows – the Humane Society is holding back on its plans to put an anticruelty referendum on the ballot this November.
Hopefully, more states will take on California’s new law for the betterment of the life of an egg-laying hen. I try to keep up hope for these small steps, but when I look at the years and years it takes for a small law change such as increasing the cage sizes, I feel disheartened. Egg-laying hens need to be taken OUT of the cages. And seriously, more and more people need to keep their own chickens and take the responsibility of their egg source into their own hands and deal with the hens themselves. Large factory farms exist because we as a nation have moved from our willingness to take control of our sustenence.
More and more laws that require animals that produce or become food to be treated decently while they are alive need to be put into effect, quickly. While those of us who can stop supporting ANYTHING that is a large scale producing farm need to produce our own eggs or buy them from people who raising their chickens sustainably and conciously.
MORE INFORMATION: Animal Rights: New Laws Take Movement to the Mainstream