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Utah pledges to be cage-free by 2025

Egg producers in Utah follow Michigan as the latest state to take a proactive approach in crafting cage-free legislation.

Senator Scott Sandall, a farmer and rancher himself, says producers came to him and negotiated terms between animal rights activists and retailers to provide certainty for the industry.

“It seems that most of the surrounding states have addressed this issue by ballot initiative and they chose to be more proactive,” he says.

During a Senate Ag Committee hearing, Jeremy Rigtrup, a third-generation egg producer testified the bill sets standards that are science-based and stops ballot initiatives on the issue.

“HSUS has committed in writing to never seek any egg-laying hen confinement legislation or initiative in Utah if this bill passes,” he says.

Mark Woodward’s family has been producing eggs for a century says they have has started investing tens of millions of dollars in updated facilities as more than 200 retailers have mandated eggs must be supplied by cage-free farms by 2025. 

He says the legislation is also meant to stop threats of other ballot initiatives. “The ballot initiative would have a much larger reach than just the chickens, but it will be abandoned if this bill passes,” he says.

Utah’s bill was recently signed into law by their governor while Michigan’s was enacted last fall.

Similar egg production standards are also in place in Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, and Colorado.

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