Nellie's Free Range Eggs


Iowa Votes to Keep Hens In Cages

For many years, animal welfare activists proposed legislation to curb what they believe to be the worst practices in farm animal care. They felt that some practices were so inhumane they should be illegal (just the way it’s illegal to mistreat a dog or a cat). At the top of the list for most of these efforts was the egg industry; 9 of 10 eggs still come from hens that live their entire lives in tiny cages, with each hen having the same amount of space as sheet of paper (so called “battery cages”) where they can’t stand up or spread their wings.

The animal rights groups pushed for reform laws and the factory farm lobby successfully fought back, insisting that the market should decide what eggs to buy and that regulation would interfere with free and fair competition.

Then something happened that the factory farms didn’t expect. Consumers did make a decision on what type of eggs they wanted, and it wasn’t their “cheap” eggs. It was for eggs produced by hens that have at least some degree of freedom. It began as a small trickle of announcements from a few progressive restaurants and retailers, who, at the request of their customers, were pledging to go 100% cage free by a future date. Then, momentum steadily built as more and more consumers demanded better. Finally, it became an avalanche of announcements. Just about every major retailer and restaurant had made their own pledge, including Walmart, Kroger, McDonalds, Starbucks, and dozens more. Many of these companies were by no means overly sympathetic to the animal rights arguments; they simply responded to what was a resounding customer consensus that they wanted more humane eggs.

Then, the factory farms had a sudden change of heart about the role of regulation – the opposite of the one they had held just a few months before. Why should the market decide what type of eggs a store should sell? Now, they want to force retailers to sell caged eggs. It would be like passing a law to say that stores must sell lead-based paint, even though consumers have said they don’t want it, because a big lead factory has a good lobbyist. But it’s working…

Iowa produces more factory-farmed eggs than any other state, 60 Million a year, which is 1 out of every 5 sold in the U.S. So it’s not that surprising that this is where the state legislature was persuaded to pass a law that forces retailers to carry caged eggs. They have wrapped the legislation up with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, to provide a touch of political cover to this almost bizarre degree of marketplace interference. But the real intent is clear: to artificially maintain a market for inhumane caged eggs.

Philosophically, we here at Nellie’s Free Range believe in consumer choice and not regulation. But if there are going to be laws to forbid products from sale, then it seems reasonable that would apply to things that have either proven harmful to the planet, to people, or to society’s sense of propriety the way many inhumane animal practices do. What is harder to understand is regulation designed to compel a retailer to carry a product that is cruel to animals and that their consumers no longer want to buy!

Nellie’s Free Range Eggs was the first egg farm to become Certified Humane, and our free-range standard of welfare goes well beyond that of even “cage-free” operations (which are better than caged, but still not that great).

Please tell us what you think about the new Iowa legislation in the comments below.

12 responses

  1. Nancy says:

    This is horrible. If consumers will
    Pay more then what’s the real issue. Seems it’s becausethe farmers don’t want to change. What can we do?

  2. Vicki says:

    It’s sickening what politicians will do for money. Your eggs are only only eggs we buy and that’s never going to change. This needs to be fought and changed. How shameful of Iowa legislators to vote yes on this

  3. Laura says:

    I don’t think they did this because of the lobbying, as much as because WIC funds are supplied by the government and conventional eggs are often seen at 30 cents per dozen and Nellies Eggs are never cheaper than $3 per dozen on sale and are usually $5 a dozen.

    I still buy Nellies, but I can see the purpose behind this law. The marketer still has the choice to not carry eggs at all or to not participate in WIC. If a marketer always sold only specialty eggs, under this law, they can continue to do so. Overall then, this isn’t going to affect very many places.

    The only thing this law is going to do is ensure that markets that participate in WIC and sale eggs have the cheaper eggs available as an option for low income people.

  4. Julie Dougherty says:

    Yours are the only eggs that I’ll purchase. It’s sickening that the law refuses to protect so many innocent and voiceless creatures.

  5. Mary Byrd says:

    Looking forward to trying out your eggs.

    1. Taylor says:

      We’re so glad to hear that, Mary. Let us know if you have any trouble finding them in your local grocery store, or check out our store locator to find some locations that carry Nellie’s Free Range Eggs near you!

  6. Alice Mills says:

    I am happy to know that Nellie’s eggs are range free eggs. I buy them @ my local ShopRite. The picture you show of in caged chickens is horrible, we should all advocate for them!

      1. Taylor says:

        We couldn’t agree more, Alice. We hope that as more consumers like yourself become informed about where their eggs come from, we’ll see some positive change in the industry. Thank you so much for supporting our humane practices and free range hens!

  7. Nicole says:

    Nellies is all we purchase in the store. If you we not buy from the store then we buy from our local farmer. We were so happy to see Nellies carried in BJ’s wholesale now, 18 pack for $4.49 and they even offer coupons from time to time. Local brown eggs here are $3 a dozen so in my opinion its well worth buying Nellies or local over the inhumane eggs.

    1. Taylor says:

      That’s awesome, Nicole! Thank you so much for choosing Humane Free Range eggs when you can’t get them from your local farmer. We’re so honored to be able to provide families like yours with high quality eggs that you can trust, all while supporting our small family farmers.

  8. Kim says:

    It makes me cry to see such cruelty. I have been a vegetarian for years and now going vegan. But the hardest food to give up has been eggs! I can feel good buying your eggs knowing they are truly from well cared for chickens. Thanks for making it possible to continue eating eggs without a guilty conscience!

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