IN THE NEWS: On OCT 14, 2009
THE US state of Michigan has passed a law on Monday, October 12, which requires that certain farm animals have enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs, rather than being confined in tiny cages.
The law phases out veal crates for calves within three years, and battery cages for laying hens and gestation crates for breeding sows within ten years. The state has more than ten million laying hens, approximately 100,000 breeding pigs, and is a top veal-producing state.
Michigan becomes the seventh state to ban gestation crates, the fifth to ban veal crates, and the second to ban battery cages. Arizona, California and Florida have passed similar measures through ballot initiatives, while Maine, Colorado and Oregon have passed related laws in their state legislatures.
The phase out of battery cages is particularly relevant to India, which is amongst the top five producers of eggs globally. Nearly 200 million egg-laying hens on factory farms in India are confined to tiny battery cages, which are so restrictive they cannot even fully spread their wings. With no opportunity to walk, nest, dustbathe, perch, forage or engage in many other natural behaviour, these birds endure lives wrought with suffering.
As a result of European consumers’ outrage about the conditions under which laying hens are kept, barren battery cages will be banned in the European Union beginning in 2012. The Lay Wel scientific research project, co-financed by the EU, confirmed that barren battery cages are fundamentally problematic for animal welfare.
In the interim, as public opposition to inhumane animal agriculture practices rises, an increasing number of EU supermarkets and restaurants are offering meat, eggs and dairy products held to standards that reduce the suffering endured by farm animals. Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and Marks and Spencer are those retail chains refusing to purchase eggs that come from battery caged hens. The same trend is apparent in the North American food retail sector.
This international momentum in favour of meaningful animal welfare reforms for farm animals is expected to continue growing and is spreading to India. “India is home to thousands of animal welfare groups and innumerable consumers who are deeply concerned about the welfare of animals,” said Chetana Mirle, Humane Society International’s campaign manager.