Michigan Egg Producers Try to Back Out of Cage-free Chicken Deadline

US - Eight years after agreeing to it, Michigan's egg producers are seeking to push back a deadline by which they must provide cage-free housing for egg-laying hens.
calendar icon 14 December 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

Michigan's MLive.com reports that Senate Bill 660, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, would push back the deadline by which Michigan egg producers would have to provide cage-free chicken housing from 2020 to 2025. The original 2020 deadline was created under a 2009 law that created and phased in new standards for chicken housing. It was voted out of the Senate Agriculture committee on Tuesday.

Cage free housing for egg-laying hens doesn't necessarily mean they get to run around outside. The 2009 law prohibits "covered animals" like egg-laying hens, gestating sows and calves being raised for veal from being confined for the majority of a day in a way that prevents them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely. A phase-in in that legislation meant the changes would take effect in 2020.

Although they agreed to that deadline at the time, egg producers are now hoping to push it back to align with what the private industry is doing.

Companies including Meijer, Kroger, Nestle and McDonald's have committed to shifting exclusively to cage-free eggs by 2025. That's when egg producers want to comply with the cage-free law.

Tim Vande Bunte, from Vande Bunte eggs in Martin, Michigan, is part of a third-generation family egg business. They have more than 3 million chickens and produce many types of eggs, including cage-free.

"SB 660 aligns the timing of Michigan's animal housing requirements with the timeline that has been widely embraced by major food industry egg buyers," Mr Vande Bunte said, testifying in support of the bill.

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