Feinstein, other senators propose federal standards for egg-laying hens

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override WH tried to stop Intel Dems' statement on Russian hacking: report MORE (D-Calif.) and a half dozen other senators have proposed legislation setting a uniform national standard for the treatment of egg-laying hens, which would ensure egg producers aren't blocked from selling across state lines due to differing state standards.

Feinstein said on Thursday that six states already have their own standards, and 18 others could put their own rules in place soon, which could cause problems in the years ahead. She said beginning in 2015, for example, eggs produced in Iowa and Indiana will not be able to ship to California because they will not meet California's standards.

"Different standards in Michigan and Ohio will take effect later, further adding to the patchwork of regulations," she said. "As states with disparate standards continue to protect their own egg producers by banning the sale of eggs from States with lower or no standards, a complicated web of state laws will impair interstate commerce."

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Feinstein said her bill, S. 3239, would codify an agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society on how egg-laying hens should be treated and how eggs should be labeled.

"The United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States worked for over a year to reach this compromise, and I believe it is one that strikes a very fair balance," she said. "Producers must enlarge cages for egg-laying hens and allow space for the birds to engage in natural behaviors such as nesting and perching."

Under the bill, producers would have as long as 18 years to meet these standards, which also includes a ban on starving chickens as a means of increasing egg production. In addition, it would prohibit excessive levels of ammonia in hen houses and require "humane euthanasia of spent hens."

Feinstein said the egg industry itself has asked Congress to approve this legislation to help it better cope with the increasing web of state standards.

"The egg industry brought this legislation to Congress and has asked us to help them implement the uniform regulations needed to survive and grow," she said. "The egg industry and the Humane Society are lock-step in their support for this bill. They are joined in endorsing the bill by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Consumer Federation of America."

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalOvernight Tech: FCC chief downplays delay to TV box reforms | Lawsuit filed over internet transition | Waze rolls out ridehailing service Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Leahy wants Judiciary hearing on Yahoo MORE (D-Conn.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellUS wins aerospace subsidies trade case over the EU Wells CEO Stumpf resigns from Fed advisory panel Overnight Energy: Lawmakers kick off energy bill talks MORE (D-Wash.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal MORE (D-Ore.), David VitterDavid VitterGOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase Louisiana needs Caroline Fayard as its new senator Louisiana Republicans: This isn’t like Sandy MORE (R-La.) and Ron WydenRon WydenOvernight Healthcare: Watchdog says ObamaCare program made illegal payments Election-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Overnight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security MORE (D-Ore.).