BOSTON (WPRI) – Neighboring states could soon see an influx of buyers looking for eggs if Massachusetts lawmakers fail to reach agreement on a new animal welfare law.
New England Brown Egg Council chief executive Bill Bell said that once the new law came into effect in January, the majority of eggs currently sold in Massachusetts would not comply.
“There will be high priced organic eggs, or higher prices, that will be for sale, but that will not hamper this need for 90% more eggs if the law does not change,” he said. -he explains.
The animal welfare law, which was approved by Massachusetts voters in 2016, creates new standards for the treatment of animals used for meat and egg production.
Part of that law prohibits the sale of eggs from farms, both inside and outside the state, that house their chickens in pens that are less than 1.5 square feet per hen.
Bell said the national standard is 1 square foot per hen, adding that Massachusetts was ahead of the country when the law was passed.
Since its approval, lawmakers in Massachusetts have worked to change the law so as not to disrupt egg production in the state.
The changes include exceptions for “tiered aviaries, partially slatted cage-free housing systems, or any other cage-free housing system that provides hens with unimpeded access to vertical space.”
The Massachusetts House of Representatives is also calling for the pork products portion of the law to be postponed until 2023 and for the Agricultural Resources Department to be responsible for enforcing the new rules once implemented, which no were not both included in the Senate proposal.
When asked about the status of the law, Senator Jason Lewis said lawmakers in the House and Senate were actively trying to reach a deal.
“We fully recognize the urgent nature of this problem and the importance of avoiding any disruption to the Massachusetts egg supply,” Lewis said in a statement.
Bell expressed concern about the impacts this law will have on the state’s egg supply, adding that grocers have told him eggs are the third most requested product in the national WIC program.
âIt’s essential for low-income people, in particular,â Bell said.
In order for the amendments to reach Gov. Charlie Baker’s office, a spokesperson for Lewis said the House and Senate need to agree on the language to be used.