Michigan Becomes Latest State to Ban Cages for Hens

Today, Michigan became the first Midwestern state to pass legislation banning the production and sale of eggs from hens confined in cages with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signature on the new bill. The egg industry has been using these cruel battery cages for nearly 90 years, but now – in response to pressure from animal activists – this long-standing practice is beginning to change.

SIX AND GROWING: Six states now have laws on the books to phase out this exceptionally cruel method of confinement for hens, with bans set to go into effect between 2023 and 2026 depending on the state. California was the first to pass such a law protecting hens when voters approved a ballot measure in 2008 to ban the use of battery cages within the state. Other states have since followed suit, and, like Michigan, several are even banning the sale of eggs from hens caged in other states.

BACKGROUND: Back in 2009, egg producers in Michigan agreed to comply with improved confinement standards for hens by early next year (giving them a whole decade to shift their production practices). But instead of taking the steps necessary to follow the law, as next year’s deadline loomed closer the industry swiftly took action to delay implementation even further. 

AN UNACCEPTABLE DELAY: In an underhanded move last month, egg producers successfully jammed a bill through the Michigan Senate which would have left hens suffering in tiny wire cages for another six years – even though the industry has had over a decade to comply with the ban they agreed to in 2009. Such a delay would have been unacceptable, especially since other states and leading food companies are moving much faster to ban this inhumane practice. Michigan lawmakers had no excuse for giving egg producers so much extra time to keep hens in these deplorable conditions!

YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN: This tremendous accomplishment was achieved thanks to the work of many fellow local and national animal protection groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Thankfully, Michiganders stepped up as well! In response to Animal Equality’s action alerts, our Michigan supporters contacted their elected officials and asked them to oppose the prolonged phase-in period – and lawmakers listened! The bill was amended in committee to expedite the cage ban, and the much-improved version of the bill passed out of the Michigan Legislature unanimously.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Although the new law does give Michigan egg producers additional time to upgrade their operations, the law is still a huge win for hens since it explicitly bans cages and requires enrichments that allow the birds to engage in natural behaviors like perching and dust-bathing (things the 2009 law did not do). Moreover, the new law also includes a sales ban that will require any eggs sold within the state to be produced under conditions that meet these heightened standards. These requirements will all go into effect at the end of 2024 and approximately 10 million hens per year will benefit from these improvements once the law becomes effective.

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