State Senator Pushes For Cage-Free Eggs In New Mexico


By Daniel J. Chacon, SFNM

via Los Alamos Daily Post (NM) - February 15, 2021


Why did the chicken cross Old Santa Fe Trail?


To lobby at the Roundhouse in support of legislation that would create a better living environment for egg-laying hens.


A bill that prompted a couple of lawmakers to do a double-take and then crack some jokes after it was introduced last week would prohibit large commercial egg producers from selling eggs in New Mexico if they came from caged chickens.


Senate Bill 347, dubbed the Confinement of Egg-Laying Hens Act, also would require cage-free chickens on any operation with more than 3,000 hens in New Mexico, of which currently there are none.


“When the bill was introduced, I knew what the reaction would be, and the first reaction was, ‘Here come the chicken jokes,’ ” the sponsor, Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, said Friday. “Well, in all reality … cage-free hens that are raised to lay eggs, this is going to be part of a wave of the future.”


Animal rights advocates agree, saying New Mexico is spreading its wings and following in the path of other states, including neighboring Colorado, which already have passed similar legislation.


“For years, there’s been a battle going on between the egg industry and animal protection organizations,” Josh Balk, vice president of Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States, wrote in an email. “It’s tremendous progress that we have found common ground with cage-free legislation that improves the living conditions of egg-laying hens while also ushering in an economically sustainable, smooth transition to meet evolving consumer expectations.”


According to the Humane Society, Colorado became the seventh state in the nation last year to ban cages for egg-laying hens.


Corporations have taken stock, too. Large retailers and food producers, such as Walmart, McDonald’s and General Mills, also have flocked to cage-free eggs.


“There has been a regional wave of legislation in Western states and commitments by major restaurant and grocery chains to move to using only cage-free eggs, and now the commercial egg industry itself is actually seeking an equal application of cage-free laws in the region so that they have better market stability and predictability in order to keep supply chains running and costs down,” Jessica Johnson said, chief government affairs officer of Animal Protection of New Mexico and Animal Protection Voters...