By Bob Katzen

The House and Senate approved and Governor Baker signed into law a conference committee version of legislation that would make changes and put Massachusetts in line with other larger egg-producing states that have put in place standards for hen confinement. In 2016, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly passed Question 3 to prevent cruelty to pigs, calves and egg-laying hens. At the time it was the strongest law for farm animals in history but since then leading retailers, producers and other states mandated even stronger standards in the shift to cage-free conditions for hens. Supporters said the bill will ensure the Bay State adapts to the new science unavailable in 2016.

Senate sponsor Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) said the standard around the country for egg-laying hens has evolved, and Massachusetts is now an outlier, which could threaten the state’s supply of eggs. “Fortunately, the egg producers and animal welfare groups have come together to agree on this legislation, ensuring safe and humane conditions for egg-laying hens and affordable eggs for Massachusetts consumers,” said Lewis.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has lobbied against the bill. “Whether hens are given 1 or 1.5 square feet of space, the term ‘cage-free’ is still a scam.” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “These exploited animals are forced into a hellscape of crowding and chaos before they’re slaughtered and replaced by the next batch of doomed souls. PETA is launching an ad campaign in Boston exposing the suffering that hens will endure under this bill, and we’re urging the public to see through the egg industry’s lies and greed and go vegan.”

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