Washington Farm Animal Cruelty Prevention, Initiative 1130 (2011)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
The measure would have adopted new rules for egg-laying hens in Washington. More specifically, the measure would have required "egg-laying hens have enough room to turn around and extend their wings and that eggs sold in the state are produced incompliance with this humane standard."
According to reports, supporters had collected an estimated 350,000 signatures, exceeding the minimum requirement. However, the initiative was dropped after the Humane Society of the United States made a national agreement with the egg industry on July 7, 2011. "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," said Paul Shapiro, Humane Society spokesperson. Together with the United Egg Producers, the Humane Society plans to seek a bill based on the agreement. The proposed legislation includes: eliminating battery-style cages by 2029 across the nation; requiring that egg cartons be labeled with information about the living conditions of the hens.
A similar proposal, SB 5487, to Initiative 1130 was filed during the 2011 legislative session by Sen. Mark Schoesler. According to reports, the main differences between the bill and the proposed initiative relate to minimum space requirements and the effective start date. The legislative proposal requires that egg producers phase out conventional cages by 2026. Producers would be allowed to house hens in "enriched colony cages" certified by the American Humane Association. According to reports, the cages would provide 116.3 square inches of space per hen compared to the current 67 square inches of space.
The initiative, on the other hand, requires that proposed changes be completed by 2018. Such changes include a cage of at least 216 square inches of space. Stacking of cages would also be prohibited.
In regard to an alternative legislative proposal, Senate Bill 5487, Farm Sanctuary president Gene Baur said, "The animals are still confined in cages, they're not given very good dust baths, and their freedom of movement is still very much restrained."
In early April 2011 the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association announced that they do not support the proposed measure. Instead the organization has announced it's support for Senate Bill 5487, which would establish a certification program for commercial egg laying chicken operations. "In our opinion, only the pending legislation in SB 5487 offers a consistent structure to improve hen welfare and an annual audit plan for verification of compliance and that's why we back it. We could have left it there and not offered an opinion on I-1130 except the initiative offers no plan for audit, no clear scientific standards or structure specifically researched to improve the lives of laying hens, and no additional empowerments for enforcement," said the organization in an April 2011 press release.
Path to the ballot
In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters are required to submit a minimum of 241,153 valid signatures by July 6, 2011. According to reports on June 13, 2011 supporters announced that they had exceeded the minimum requirement. An estimated 275,000 signatures have thus far been collected. However, the Secretary of State's office recommends that initiative campaigns collect at least 320,000 signatures to compensate for any duplicates or errors. With that in mind, the campaign reportedly will continue to circulate petitions.
Paul Shapiro, senior director of The Humane Society of the United States Factory Farming Campaign, had previously announced that signatures would be gathered by volunteers. However, as of June Shapiro reports that the petition circulation effort is a combination of paid circulators and volunteers. According to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, the campaign has hired PCI Consultants, Inc. from California. June reports indicate that a total of $332,504 was paid to the company.
- The Spokesman-Review,"Time to sign up or shut up as initiative deadline nears," July 2, 2011
- The Herald,"Heavy hitters at work behind state initiatives," June 19, 2011
- AVMA,"Initiative, legislation compete to set hen housing standards," May 18, 2011
- KATU News,"Voters may decide chicken coop controversy," April 26, 2011
- Care2,"Washingtonians Call for Anti-Battery Cage Measure," January 25, 2011
- Washington Secretary of State,"Initiative Measure No. 1130," retrieved January 28, 2011
- The Spokesman Review,"A chicken & egg initiative," January 19, 2011
- The Seattle Times,"Backers cancel initiative to give chickens better living," July 7, 2011
- KUOW,"Deal Suspends Chicken Cage Ballot Measures," July 7, 2011
- The Register-Guard,"Egg farmers, animal rights group forge pact," July 8, 2011
- The Seattle Times,"Bigger hen cages not enough, say foes of bill," April 15, 2011
- Capital Press,"Gregoire signs cage standards bill," May 12, 2011
- Associated Press,"Humane Society wants to ban cages for Wash. hens," January 19, 2011
- The Bellingham Herald,"Kindness-for-hens initiative is filed," January 19, 2011
- Farm Sanctuary,"Washington Ballot Initiative Update: Take Action to Help Egg-Laying Hens!," April 18, 2011
- Washington State Veterinary Medical Association,"Veterinary Association Rejects Supporting Hen Cage Ban Initiative," April 5, 2011
- Capital Press,"Cage-free initiative claims signatures," June 13, 2011