And I don’t mean about the News of the World! I mean the news of an historic agreement reached in the USA that could see an end to barren battery cages for laying hens. And with the vast majority of the 280 million hens in the US imprisoned in the most cramped battery cages, news of a national breakthrough is simply huge.
So, what’s the story? The agreement has been reached in the USA between the Humane Society of the United States and the main US egg industry organisation, United Egg Producers. Both organisations have agreed to work together to enact federal legislation that will phase out barren battery cages for egg laying hens. It will also seek to introduce mandatory labelling telling consumers how the eggs were produced. The agreement stops short of banning larger, so-called ‘enriched’ cages. This would bring the US broadly in line with the European Union position on laying hens, which will see barren battery cages banned from 1st January 2012. It would mean that the US too would be joining The Big Move!
Clearly, there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet before this agreement becomes law. If enacted as agreed, it would represent the biggest milestone for farm animal protection since Europe started phasing out barren battery cages in 1999. As with the European law, it doesn’t go far enough. All egg-laying hens should live cage-free lives, rather than confined in battery cages where they can’t even stretch their wings. The new development in the US, whilst falling short of this, is a very significant step in the right direction.
And here in the UK, we’ve been proud to celebrate the latest wave of companies committing to cage-free egg policies. Our Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards in London this week recognised 48 companies that have pledged new animal-friendly policies on eggs, chicken and dairy.
The big news is that ASDA, Ben & Jerry’s, Green & Blacks, and Yeo Valley were amongst those receiving awards on the night for pledging to pasture-based and calf-friendly dairying. Well-known cake brand, Mr Kipling, was prominent amongst the ‘Good Egg’ award winners continuing the corporate trend in Europe toward exclusive use of cage-free eggs.
Several hundred delegates from some of the biggest corporates in the land were with us in Covent Garden. Huge congratulations to all 48 companies recognised for their animal welfare-friendly policies on the night. It was great working with TV Chef, Paul Merrett, who was our brilliant host for the evening. We were positively spoilt by also having the speaking talents of BBC Food Presenter, Nigel Barden, broadcaster and writer Allegra McEvedy MBE, and actress Alexandra Bastedo. Great too, to have last year’s host, Bill Oddie, with us as well as actress Kate Ford and novelist Victoria Connelly. A big thank you to all of them!
Ilaria Ida, Social Mission Manager of Ben & Jerry's Europe and the Ben & Jerry’s cow celebrate winning a Good Dairy Award
Annette Pledger, Senior Brand Manager at Mr Kipling receives their Good Egg Award