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Egg Industry: Cage-Free Future Inevitable

United Egg Producers will not fight a Massachusetts ballot initiative that would bar the in-state sale of meat or eggs from animals raised in extreme confinement anywhere in the United States. In an interview with Politico, UEP’s president, Chad Gregory, conceded that the egg industry did not “have any options” but to go cage-free.

United Egg Producers tried to fight a similar initiative in the past and was unsuccessful. In 2008, UEP raised $10 million in an attempt to defeat Prop 2, a cage-free ballot initiative in California. Despite UEP’s well-funded and organized campaign, Prop 2 passed with the approval of a landslide 64 percent of California voters. The group’s attempt to fight the law in the courts failed as well.

While the egg industry may see the writing on the wall, the pork industry continues to oppose reform. National Pork Producers Council spokesman Dave Warner pledged that the group will fight the Massachusetts initiative. Although more than 85 percent of U.S. pigs are currently kept in gestation crates, NPPC president-elect, John Weber, admitted that the status quo will change. “In another 10 years that percentage is probably going to change significantly,” Weber said. “I would predict longer term … we’ll be housing sows differently.

While the Massachusetts initiative is a positive step in the right direction, it would only ban the most extreme confinement of animals. Cage-free does not mean cruelty-free. Ultimately, the best way to prevent animal suffering is to leave meat, dairy, and eggs off your plate. 

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