Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Deal suspends chicken cage ballot measures

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Animal welfare groups in Oregon and Washington are shelving initiative petition drives that could have required egg producers to give hens more spacious cages.

The Humane Society of the United States says it's hatched a surprise national agreement with the egg industry for the treatment of chickens on farms. This comes as a ballot measure drive in Oregon for the 2012 election was getting started.

And national Humane Society spokesman Paul Shapiro says Washington State activists were on the verge of turning in more than 350,000 voter signatures to Olympia.

"We're suspending the Washington and Oregon ballot measures and putting our energies into passing a federal law that would help hundreds of millions of birds as opposed to fewer than 10 million birds in Washington and Oregon," Shapiro said.

The Humane Society and the leading industry group, United Egg Producers, will jointly approach Congress. They've agreed to double the amount of cage space each hen gets. Cages would also be required to have perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas.

"Both sides gave in on some things," said United Egg Producers spokesman Mitch Head. "But in the end, the greater good for both sides is to have an agreement."

On the Web:

Previous coverage: "Northwest Lawmakers Crack Open Egg Controversy" (May 25, 2011)

Joint statement from HSUS and United Egg Producers:

Oregon initiative campaign:

Washington initiative campaign:

United Egg Producers - Animal welfare:

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.