Could there be a shortage of eggs in Mass.? Lawmakers are working to prevent it.

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“If we don’t act, there will be very few egg farmers who will actually comply with the standard as set out in the ballot question, and that’s not enough egg farmers to answer. on demand.”

Massachusetts lawmakers are scrambling to change a 2016 voting measures law – which they say will prevent an egg shortage. IRINA – stock.adobe.com

Could Massachusetts face an arm-egg-edon?

Following a 2016 animal welfare voting law, some lawmakers are proposing an amended version of a Senate bill setting standards on the space required to keep laying hens, a move that, according to them, is necessary to avoid a shortage of eggs.

“When the law goes into effect on January 1 of next year, we are likely to see a serious shortage of eggs,” Senator Jason Lewis told Boston 25 News in June. “Plus, prices will go up. “

The original electoral law also included standards for pigs and calves, and for laying hens, room was needed for the birds to fully spread “both wings without touching the side of a pen or hens. other laying hens and have access to at least at least 1.5 square feet of usable floor space per hen, ”the State House News Service reported. This law will come into force as drafted on January 1, 2022, unless lawmakers successfully pass a law to reduce this requirement from 1.5 square feet to 1 square foot, in accordance with the laws of others. States.

Since 2016, representatives of egg producers and supermarkets have pushed for a change to the definition of “cage-free” for multi-tier aviary systems, The Boston Globe reported in May, and animal rights activists behind the original measure are supporting the change.

“The way the question was worded on the ballot was intended to give the animals enough space to stand up, turn around and lie down,” Stephanie Harris, who led the campaign for the measure of the 2016 ballot. “And this legislation promotes that objective. “

The House meets in formal session on Wednesday, and the Ways and Means Committee will present the amended bill. The amended House bill will allow one square foot of space per hen in aviaries with “unhindered access to vertical space,” the State House News Service reported.

The bill applies to Massachusetts hens, as well as laying hens that are shipped to the Commonwealth, so it has the potential to impact many farmers. The World reported that Hillandale Farms of Connecticut, one of Massachusetts’ largest egg suppliers, has invested heavily in cage-free aviaries with the 1 square foot standard.

During the debate on the Senate bill in June, Lewis argued that aviary standards have evolved since 2016: many now use vertical aviaries that give chickens the ability to fly up, roost and roost. roost.

“If we don’t take action, there will be very few egg farmers who actually comply with the standard set in the vote, and not enough egg farmers to meet the demand here in. the Commonwealth – actually far from it, ”he said.

If the House votes to pass the bill in Wednesday’s formal session, it will have to agree with the Senate on a consensual bill to submit to the governor.

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