Animal Protection Groups Stand Up for Hens

Animal Protection Groups Stand Up for Hens

Animal Advocates Defend California Law Protecting Egg-Laying Hens

For immediate release:
April 17, 2014

FRESNO, Calif. – Today, Farm Sanctuary joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and Compassion Over Killing in submitting a “friend of the court” amicus brief in a controversial lawsuit filed by the state of Missouri against California’s ban of the sale of eggs from intensely confined hens. Proposition 2—a voter directed initiative—will go into effect Jan 1, 2015 and requires any egg-laying hen on a commercial farm in the state to have enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their limbs. Missouri, and other states involved in the lawsuit, do not have similar initiatives in place to regulate farmed animal confinement and claim their commercial interests would be adversely affected by California’s ban. The brief was filed with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, Fresno Division.

Following the 2008 passage of Prop 2, the California State Legislature passed a law that prohibits the sale of eggs for human consumption if it comes from a hen that was confined in violation of Prop 2 standards. This law also makes these animal care violations a crime. The Attorney General of Missouri, Chris Koster, filed suit on February 3, 2014 against the state of California, claiming the ban was unconstitutional because it violates the “Dormant Commerce Clause” by improperly regulating sales that can only be regulated federally. Koster also claims the ban is pre-empted by a federal law named the “Egg Products Inspection Act” or EPIA.

Nearly all egg-laying hens in the United States are confined in “battery cages”—spaces the size of a sheet of paper—in which they are never able to sit, stand, turn around, extend their wings, or engage in natural behaviors. Chickens are known to be sociable, intelligent animals and studies have shown that hens display remarkable memories, communal activities, and affection.
Copies of the brief are available by request.