Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has just signed into law the strongest protections for egg-laying hens ever passed in any state legislature. This historic win will benefit approximately eight million hens each year, freeing them from cage confinement by the end of 2023. The measure builds upon our previous work in states like California and Massachusetts where voters have passed transformational ballot measures against the cage confinement of farm animals in recent years.
Washington’s new law phases out the production and sale of eggs from caged hens, regardless of where the eggs were produced.
In a typical cage facility, each bird has less space than the dimensions of an iPad on which to live her entire life. While cage-free does not equal cruelty-free, this measure will significantly reduce the birds’ suffering. In addition to banning cages and requiring more space per bird, the law also mandates that hens be provided with vital enrichments, including scratch areas, perches, nesting and dust bathing areas.
The HSUS has spearheaded the passage of this law and others in a dozen states — from Florida to Ohio to Arizona — to eliminate extreme confinement. These successes bolster the work we have done with some of the largest food corporations in recent years, both in the United States and globally, to end cruel cage confinement practices by their suppliers. As a result, lawmakers and corporations are increasingly realizing that the future is cage-free.
In Washington, we partnered with Democratic and Republican legislators, key stakeholders in the agricultural sector, and other leading animal protection groups to ensure the bill’s success. It is a remarkable illustration of how good people in all walks of life can come together to create lasting and transformational change for animals. The HSUS will continue to work with lawmakers, non-government organizations, volunteers, donors and other members of the public to continue paving the way toward this more humane reality.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate today’s remarkable win for animals. But let’s also keep in mind that billions of farm animals around the world are still suffering in cruel cages. The laws in Washington, California and Massachusetts set a great precedent for other states and countries to follow, and further support corporate policy commitments reforming how farm animals are raised. Let’s keep the momentum going as we work toward the day when no farm animal is locked in a cage.