Action Needed for Chickens Now

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In collaboration with other organizations, Green Vegans sent variations of the letters you see below to our Senators Maria Cantwell (a co-sponsor of the bill) and Patti Murray and Congressman Jim McDermott, all from Washington State. Other organizations will be urging their members and people opposed to the “rotten egg bill” now sitting in House and Senate committees to email and call their congressional delegations to oppose these bills.

The hens need all state congressional delegations to get this letter and your calls. AFTER reading the letters below, immediately contact your congressional representatives. Tell them you oppose the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments (Senate bill 820; House, H.R. 1731). Just cut and paste these letters and enter your Senators’ and Congressperson’s name and address, then “sign it”. Go to http://whoismyrepresentative.com/  for their contact information, send the email and then call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Defeat this bill.

Senate Bill Letter:

Date: __ June 2013

Sen.  _____________

Address _______________

Re: S. 820: Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013

Dear Senator_______________,

S. 820, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013, is a far worse bill than proposed in 2012. Though the bill amends an Act that addresses itself entirely to the quality of table eggs and concerns about maintaining public health, the S. 820 amendments take on an entirely new subject: changes in the housing of hens who produce table eggs. Though this letter does not cover all the flaws and threats of the bill, these are our major concerns. We oppose this bill in its entirety and ask you to oppose it for the following reasons.

First, no person, organization, or state government may improve the welfare and treatment of egg-laying hens if it differs from the inadequacies of the Act.  There is no sunset language in this bill. According to the proposed bill, no person, agency, or act of Washington State government could implement science-based improvements based on studies of animal behavior before or after 2029 when the bill comes into full implementation: Requirements within the scope of this Act with respect to minimum floor space allotments or enrichments for egg-laying hens housed in commercial egg production which are in addition to or different than those made under this Act may not be imposed by any State or local jurisdiction [Section 4(b)(c) of the bill]. S. 820 will disenfranchise your constituents from this matter—completely. We hope this issue alone, the disenfranchisement of the people of Washington State, will move you to oppose this misleading bill.

Second, S. 820 removed important definitions and deadlines. It currently states: “(a) The term ‘adequate environmental enrichments’ means adequate perch space, dust bathing or scratching areas, and nest space, as defined by the Secretary of Agriculture, based on the best available science, including the most recent studies available at the time that the Secretary defines the term.” The deadline schedule for the Secretary of Agriculture to define “adequate environmental enrichments” has been deleted from the 2013 version of the bill. The deleted section from 2012 read, “The Secretary shall issue regulations defining this term not later than January 1, 2017, and the final regulations shall go into effect on December 31, 2018.” The number of nesting spaces serves as an example of the need for clearly defined implementation. Research demonstrates that the lack of nesting opportunity is extremely stressful to the hen as it is one of several innate behavioral needs. Yet the Secretary is not required to specify any interior changes to cages excepting square inches per hen, itself a gross denial of the hens’ basic needs.

Third, the 2012 version of the bill used the word “must” consistently as the implementing mandate, as in “must provide environmental enrichment”; the 2013 bill (the “Amendments”) replaces “must” with “shall” throughout. We believe “must” was replaced with “shall” to further weaken the minimal, humane-washing changes it proposes. Going to the U.S. Federal Register Website, “Drafting Legal Documents / Principles of Clear Writing / Section 3” you will see they believe it correct to, “use ‘must’ instead of ‘shall’” because: “shall imposes an obligation to act, but may be confused with prediction of future action” while “must imposes obligation, indicates a necessity to act”. The plain English use of “must” in the 2012 bill is obvious when compared to “shall” in the 2013 bill. That change must be opposed along with the bill. Continue reading