Spurred by Egg Industry, Arizona Weighs a Ban on Caged Hens


Elizabeth Whitman, Phoenix New Times (AZ)  

February 4, 2020


A new kind of freedom is on the horizon, for the hens of Arizona.


If an industry-backed bill passes the Legislature, the state could ban the sale of all eggs laid by confined or caged hens, starting in 2025.


 HB 2724, introduced by Representative Timothy Dunn, a grain farmer from Yuma, puts Arizona on a growing list of states that have passed or are considering such mandates amid rising pressure to produce eggs laid by humanely treated hens.


According to Dunn, the bill represents a compromise between Arizona's egg industry, which is dominated by Hickman's Family Farms, and the Humane Society of the United States, which advocates for the humane treatment of animals.


Hickman's approached him and asked him to run the bill on their behalf, Dunn said, because "they have negotiated something that they believe they can live with, to stay in business." He said the requirements laid out in the bill were "100 percent" from Hickman's compromise with the Humane Society.


The Humane Society did not respond to a request for comment for this piece. Neither did Billy Hickman, the egg farm's vice president of operations.


According to Dunn, the bill would cost Hickman's several hundred million dollars, a necessary investment to allow them to continue selling eggs in California, where a law limiting animal confinement took effect in 2015.


"We call it ... the Hickman compromise bill," said Dunn.


The bill has not yet had a first read on the House floor, but Dunn said that it was "definitely a priority because the Hickmans want to get it done," despite opposition from others in the agricultural industry. Dunn, whose extensive district includes Hickman's farms, chairs the House Land and Agriculture Committee.


The proposed legislation would require egg producers to start giving hens more space by the end of this year. From December 31, 2020, industrial egg farms would not be allowed to confine hens to any area smaller than one square foot per hen.


Four years after that...


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