Senators hoping to lay federal egg production standards in farm bill

"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," Feinstein said last month. "Producers must enlarge cages for egg-laying hens and allow space for the birds to engage in natural behaviors such as nesting and perching."

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Both the bill and the amendment set minimum floor space requirements per hen, and would phase in these requirements over 18 years. It would also prohibit excessive levels of ammonia in hen houses and require humane euthanasia of spent hens.

The HSUS issued a statement on Tuesday calling for the adoption of the amendment by the Senate.

"It's my hope that senators break free of the old paradigm — animal advocates versus agriculture industries — and recognize that this solution serves all parties, especially consumers," HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle said. "Failure to enact this provision will mean that the egg industry and animal advocates will go back to costly state-by-state battles that will slow down progress, cost both sides hundreds of millions of dollars and leave all parties with uncertain outcomes."

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sponsored Feinstein's original bill. But the amendment to the farm bill also has the support of Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

Senators are currently working on an agreement on which amendments to the bill might be considered.