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Learning from chickens

Here’s an interesting story which salmon farmers and their opponents could all learn from.

Egg farmers and their harshest critics are close to an agreement which would see the United States transition to farming eggs in colonies, rather than battery-cage farms.

An egg industry conversion to colony cage housing would be in the best interests of hens, producers and consumers.

The conversion of U.S. egg production from conventional cage housing to “enriched” colony cage housing has been endorsed by the egg industry’s scientific advisory committee on animal welfare.

The scientific evidence indicating that enriched colonies are “an acceptable approach” to good hen welfare is increasing, the committee wrote in a memo that was released at the annual conference of the United Egg Producers (UEP) earlier this month.The committee is comprised of animal ethicists and scientists and was convened in 1999 when UEP asked for science-based guidelines for the care and housing of egg-laying hens.

Approximately 95% of U.S. egg production today occurs in conventional cages.

However, that would transition to colonies through an agreement between The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and UEP in which they will seek federal legislation banning conventional cages in favor of colonies. The legislation would be an amendment to the U.S. Egg Products Inspection Act.

UEP chair David Lathem called the deal “a landmark agreement,” adding that UEP does not like all of the agreement, and HSUS does not like all of the agreement, but it provides “a clear path to where our future will be.”

Farmers and activists working together on a science-based solution which benefits everyone? Yes, it is possible!

People need to remember that the loudest voices against conventional salmon farming do not represent a large number of people. In fact, they are in the minority.

What salmon farmers need to do is to find critics they can work with, critics who don’t just call for a “land-based fish farm” panacea.

They are out there. But unfortunately their voices are drowned out by the very loud, but very small number of hardline anti-aquaculture activists who somehow manage to capture most of the media’s attention.

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