A bill introduced in the Arizona Legislature by a representative from Yuma could ban the sale of eggs laid by confined or caged hens starting in 2025.
The bill, HB 2724, was introduced by Arizona 13th District Rep. Timothy Dunn, R-Yuma. Dunn is a farmer himself. According to the ASPCA website, 12 states currently have laws or are considering legislation regarding the confinement of laying hens, mother pigs and veal calves.
In 2006, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure that banned the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs and veal crates for calves. Both hold animals in tightly confined stalls where they cannot move around.
In 2018, California voters approved a ballot measure that strengthened a ballot measure from 2008 and legislation from 2010 regarding their cage-free standards for hens, cows and veal calves.
In published reports, Dunn said he was approached by Hickman’s Family Farms to introduce the bill. He said it represented a compromise between Hickman’s and the Humane Society of the United States. He said the bill would cost a lot of money for Hickman’s, but it was a necessary investment to continue selling eggs in California.
Dunn’s district includes Hickman’s Farms. He is the Chairman of the Land & Agriculture Committee and Vice Chairman of the Natural Resources, Energy & Water Committee. He is a member of the Ways & Means Committee and the State & International Affairs Committee.
The largest producer of eggs in La Paz County is Rose Acre Farms’ Lone Cactus Egg Farm south of Bouse. When contacted by the Pioneer, Rose Acre’s Communications Director, Clay Brown, stated the company preferred not to comment on the legislation at this time.
If passed by the legislature, HB 2724 would require that, starting Dec. 31, 2020, no farmer or farm operator in the state may “knowingly confine an egg-laying hen in an enclosure with less than one square foot of usable floor space per hen.”
A section of the text of the bill reads:
“From and after Dec. 31, 2024, a farm owner or operator may not knowingly confine an egg-laying hen in an enclosure:
- Not a cage-free housing system.
- With less that either:
- One square foot of usable space per hen in multi-tiered aviaries, partially slatted cage-free housing systems or any other cage-free housing system that provides hens with unfettered access to vertical space.
- One and one-half square feet of usable floor space per hen in single-level all-litter floor systems or any other cage-free housing system that does not provide hens with unfettered access to vertical space.
The bill also would make it illegal to knowingly transport or sell eggs not produced in a cage-free system.
The cage-free requirements of the legislation would not apply to medical research, veterinary examination or testing, transporting animals, or county or state fair exhibits and 4-H or similar exhibits.
Rose Acre Farms has this animal welfare statement on their website:
“Since our beginnings as a family chicken farm in the early 1930s, Rose Acre Farms has made the health of the laying hens a top priority. We put considerable resources toward advancing scientific understanding of animal husbandry best practices, and we use this knowledge to increase the health and quality of life of laying hens.
Animal welfare is central to our business, but it is also a foundational value of our company. We believe that good stewardship of resources includes humane and caring treatment of the animals in our care, so we go above and beyond requirements and standards to ensure that the chickens are well cared for as an integral component of our egg production operations. Caring for hens is the backbone of Rose Acre Farms’ company culture.”
The Pioneer attempted to contact La Paz County’s three representatives at the legislature, Representatives Leo Biasiucci and Regina Cobb and Senator Sonny Borelli. Of the three, only Borelli had responded by Feb. 16. He said he would wait until the legislation had cleared the House before he made any comments.