In some hopeful news for farmed animals, Washington governor Jay Inslee signed a new law this week that will end all cage confinement of hens in the state by 2023. This historic win is the strongest protection for farmed animals that any state legislature has passed to date. Banning the production and sale of eggs from hens in cages will benefit about 8 million hens each year once it takes effect.
While hens used for eggs in factory farms suffer immensely, cage confinement is particularly cruel. In cage facilities, each bird is forced to spend her life on floor space smaller than an iPad, leaving her without room to even spread her wings. Washington’s new law will address this torture by prohibiting cages and requiring more space per bird, as well as mandating that hens be given some opportunity to exhibit more natural behaviors, with perches and areas for nesting, scratching, and dustbathing.
The new law was passed in large part due to the advocacy of The Humane Society of the United States, which collaborated with both Democratic and Republican legislators and key stakeholders in the agricultural sector. It’s a hopeful sign and builds on the work that the HSUS and other groups, including Mercy For Animals, have done to pass ballot measures in California and Massachusetts banning the production and sale of products from animals kept in the cruelest confinement systems.
Hopefully, this victory in Washington is an indicator that more forward-thinking state legislatures will be open to passing similar laws.
If you’d like to be part of this progress, there are two simple but effective steps you can take right now. The first is to join Mercy For Animals’ Hen Heroes so you can receive easy call-to-action emails for all our campaigns, complete with links to tweet, sign petitions, or send emails. (I do the action every day—it literally takes less than a minute, but it never fails to make me feel a little more hopeful and productive for animals!)
The second is to join our campaign asking McDonald’s to agree to less inhumane welfare standards for chickens raised for meat in its supply chain. Sign the petition here, and find out how you can get more involved here. (If you join Hen Heroes, you’ll receive more ways to add your voice to this campaign.)
Congratulations to Washington state on this important step. While cage-free is certainly not the same as cruelty-free, the changes will help these birds live a less miserable life, and that matters greatly.