By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- A bill establishing minimum space requirements for egg-laying hens is headed to the governor's desk for his signature.
The Oregon House on June 6 approved Senate Bill 805 by a margin of 52-7. The Senate previously passed the bill.
The bill is a compromise between Oregon's commercial egg industry and an animal rights advocacy group, said Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, who spoke in support of it on the House floor.
"This is a good bill that was put together by both the industry and the Oregon Humane Society to put forth an Oregon solution," McLane said.
The bill requires that by 2026, all eggs sold in Oregon come from hens housed in certified housing systems with at least 116 square inches of floor space for each hen.
The standard is used by the American Humane Association for its enriched colony housing certification.
"This legislation will set a new bar for animal welfare by enacting, for the first time, comprehensive animal care standards for hens," Sharon Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society, said in a press release.
"Senate Bill 805 gives Oregon egg farming families a viable path to help us move toward 100 percent compliance with American Humane Association hen care standards so that we continue to improve the welfare of our hens while maintaining affordable, locally produced eggs for our consumers," said Greg Satrum, owner of Willamette Egg Farms in Canby, Ore.
The bill includes a one-time $65,000 appropriation to the Oregon Department of Agriculture for rule-making, consultation fees and public outreach.
The Humane Society of the U.S. is circulating a petition to place an initiative on the ballot mandating more space for egg-laying hens.