Rotten Eggs: Iowa Contrives to Keep Hens Caged

In March, Iowa enacted a law that will require most egg retailers in the state to continue carrying “conventional” eggs from hens raised in densely packed battery cages. Only those stores that had already fully transitioned to cage-free eggs by January 2018 and that do not accept vouchers for government-funded food assistance are exempt. The bill was sold as an effort to keep cheap eggs on the shelves for consumers. But it’s no secret that the real purpose was to protect Iowa’s Big Ag producers and prevent stores from transitioning entirely to cage-free eggs—as over 200 companies, including Walmart and Dollar Tree, have pledged to do. Now in Iowa, incredibly, that’s a crime.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island could become the latest state heading in the opposite (sane) direction. A bill (HB 7456) passed the state House in May that would prohibit the confinement of egg-laying hens in such a way that they are unable to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, or fully extend their wings. The bill specifically bans the use of battery cages, enriched cages, and colony cages. By allowing these animals the freedom to move around in their enclosures, HB 7456 would provide the same level of protections to egg-laying hens that the state already provides to gestating sows and calves raised for veal.