Two legislators last week introduced the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013, a bipartisan bill to establish a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens and the labeling of eggs.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., headed up the Senate effort, while Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives.
The legislation represents a 2011 agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which would override current varying laws in six states that make product difficult to ship across state lines.
Specifically, the legislation would outlaw starving chickens to increase production, ban battery cages and require farms to provide hens with enrichments such as scratching areas and nesting boxes.
Further, the bill also encompasses labeling changes that would explain on the package how the eggs were produced, including statements such as "eggs from caged hens," "eggs from hens in enriched cages," "eggs from cage-free hens" and "eggs from free-range hens."
The bill would prohibit the sale and transport of any eggs that do not meet the outlined standards.
The legislation has been introduced previously, at which time it was met with concern from other farm groups that the agreement with the HSUS would set a precedent for the group to dictate housing standards of other sectors.