Government Regulations and Legislation
BC’s Farm Industry Review Board
In BC (and the rest of Canada), eggs are one of 5 supply-managed, animal-derived food products. The BC Egg Marketing Board (BCEMB) has the authority to permit or prohibit the production of eggs within BC through establishment of a quota system, and has been vested with the authority to set prices, to licence producers and processors and to fix levies.
The British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board (BCFIRB) is an administrative tribunal that has statutory responsibility for general supervision of the BCEMB. As an independent tribunal, BCFIRB's role is to ensure that the public interest is served and protected.
During the summer of 2010, BCFIRB held a public review on two key issues: 1. specialty and new entrant programs for egg production in BC; and 2. a proposal by the BCEMB to increase egg production in the province by roughly 3.5%.
Interested parties and stakeholders were asked to submit their comments.
VHS submitted a seven-page response on how to improve the transparency and fairness of the lottery process used to select new cage-free egg farmers. To view the submissions of VHS and other stakeholders, click here.
VHS submitted a 16-page response to the BCEMB’s proposal to place an additional 99,534 hens into registered production in B.C. Of this, only 22,768 hens could be guaranteed to go to cage-free farms. VHS recommended that all new hens be destined for cage-free production, and preferably certified organic free-range farms. To view the submissions of VHS and other stakeholders, click here.
VHS then spoke to the BCEMB and the BCFIRB at a public hearing in Abbotsford to reiterate our positions on both issues. To see the decision reached by BCFIRB click here.
VHS continues to urge the egg industry to more quickly transition their flocks to cage-free housing, and preferably certified organic free-range farms. As of 2012, close to 15% of BC's provincial egg production comes from cage-free farms, far greater than the rest of the country which averages only 3% cage-free production.
If you would like to pass on your views to the Provincial and Federal Governments, for contact information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-266-9744.
Canada: Federal Government
The Chicken Out! project has launched a petition asking the Canadian Government to label all eggs from battery caged hens as “eggs from caged hens”. This type of labelling would allow consumers to make educated choices, and it would be consistent with current European Union legislation.
Please ask your friends to take one too and collect signatures. Ask your local library, grocery store, fitness centre, launderette or any other place you visit frequently, to display one on their counter or on their message board. Our goal is to get 100,000 signatures before the end of the year. It is a huge goal, but we can do it, with your help.
USA - California and Proposition 2 to Ban Cages and Crates
In the November 2008 US election, California voters by an overwhelming majority (63.5%) passed the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (Proposition 2), which makes it a criminal offense to confine hens in cages and sows and veal calves in crates. Specifically the Act states that farm animals should be able to stand up, turn around and extend their limbs - activities of which they are denied in battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates.
Prop 2 received more votes than any citizen initiative in the history of California. It received a majority of support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, both younger and older voters, and Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians.
In 2011, The Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers announced an agreement to work together toward the enactment of comprehensive new federal legislation for all 280 million hens involved in U.S. egg production. The proposed standards advocated by UEP and HSUS, if enacted, would define the first federal law addressing the treatment of animals on farms. The changes will be phased in over the next 15-18 years.
The proposed legislation would:
- require conventional cages (currently used by more than 90 percent of the egg industry) to be replaced, through an ample phase-in period, with new, enriched housing systems that provide each hen nearly double the amount of space they’re currently allotted. Egg producers will invest an additional $4 billion over the next decade and a half to effect this industry-wide make-over;
- require that all egg-laying hens be provided, through the new enriched housing system, with environments that will allow them to express natural behaviors, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas;
- mandate labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, such as "eggs from caged hens," "eggs from hens in enriched cages," "eggs from cage-free hens," and "eggs from free-range hens".
In recognition of ballot Proposition 2 passed by voters in that California in 2008, UEP and HSUS will ask Congress to require California egg producers—with nearly 20 million laying hens—to eliminate conventional cages by 2015 (the date Prop 2 is scheduled to go into effect), and provide all hens with the space and environmental enrichments that the rest of the egg industry will be phasing in over the next 15 to 18 years. These requirements will also apply to the sale of all eggs and egg products in California under the proposed federal legislation.
EU Ban on Battery Cages
Starting in January 2012, the European Union banned the use of conventional, barren battery cages. No newly built battery cages barns have been allowed since 2003, and from that date forward, the space allowance in existing conventional cages was increased from 450 cm2 to 550 cm2 per bird.
While conventional battery cages has been banned, the use of "enriched" cages is still allowed. Proponents claimed that these enriched cages will be better for the hen's welfare than battery cages. However, scientific and practical evidence shows that, in welfare terms, a cage is still a cage, enriched or not, and that the birds will continue to suffer. The space and facilities provided in enriched cages are so inadequate that they deprive the birds of the ability to fulfill natural behaviours, leading to abnormal behaviours, frustration, suffering and body degeneration.
In 2004, a new labelling program was introduced in the European Union that identifies the method of production:
- Battery eggs will be labelled as "Eggs from caged hens"
- Free-run and other barn eggs will be labelled as "Barn" eggs
- Free-range eggs will be labelled as "Free Range" eggs
- Organic eggs will be labelled as "Organic" eggs
Some countries in the European Union have gone beyond these measures. Switzerland banned the use of battery cages in 1992, and Germany banned conventional battery cages in 2007 and will ban enriched cages in 2012.