Washington, DC—Today, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) sent a letter to the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association urging the world’s largest poultry organization to immediately implement fire prevention strategies to stop devastating barn fires that have killed more than 4 million birds since 2013.
“We hope that before millions more animals are needlessly killed, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association makes preventing barn fires a priority and works with all stakeholders to put forth meaningful solutions,” AWI President Cathy Liss wrote in a letter to association president John Starkey.
AWI enclosed a petition signed by 10,000 consumers nationwide calling on the industry group to act. This is in addition to the nearly 5,000 emailed letters that were recently sent by concerned citizens to the organization.
In the past three years, there has been a significant increase in large barn fires, according to an AWI analysis of media reports. In total, these fires have claimed the lives of more than 2.5 million egg-laying hens and 287,000 meat chickens.
Currently, there are no laws or regulations in the United States designed to protect farm animals from barn fires, and the causes of most large barn fires remain undetermined. Historically, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association has opposed efforts to require fire prevention improvements in animal housing facilities. Moreover, the industry has provided insufficient information on what companies are doing to prevent and suppress fires and how they plan to expand on these efforts to prevent even more large fires and fatalities.
“At minimum,” Liss wrote, “the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association should work with members and industry partners to conduct an industry-wide assessment of the current level of fire prevention and suppression mechanisms in animal housing facilities and of best practices to minimize the risk of a fire in large commercial egg and broiler operations.”
As producers ramp up a transition to cage-free production, new barns are being built that will remain in use for decades, housing many millions of hens. Before large-scale construction begins, it is imperative that the industry work to identify and implement measures to mitigate the risk of barn fires and dramatically reduce the number of animals burned to death.
Margie Fishman, (202) 446-2128, firstname.lastname@example.org