Earlier this month, Ohio’s Department of Agriculture resolutely rejected plans submitted by Hi-Q Egg Products to build what would have been the state’s largest battery cage egg factory farm. With 27 million hens already crammed inside battery cages, Ohio is the second largest egg-producing state in the U.S.
The Department’s decision, lauded as a victory by animal advocates, environmentalists, and community activists, will spare six million egg-laying hens from a life of extreme confinement, neglect and abuse. It also reflects a growing shift away from the cruelties of battery cage egg production as well as the Department’s willingness to adhere to the terms of the historic agreement brokered last summer between humane organizations and the Ohio Farm Bureau, which placed a state-wide moratorium on the construction of new battery cage egg facilities.
This agreement, however, does not limit the expansion of existing facilities, and the state’s largest egg producer, Ohio Fresh Eggs, has plans to grow despite its sordid history. You may remember Ohio Fresh Eggs as the company that paid $625,000 last April to settle pollution complaints, or as the focus of an FDA recall of 288,000 eggs last November after the farm tested positive for salmonella, or even as the site of a shocking 2004
undercover exposé revealing unimaginably cruel and unsanitary conditions. Additionally, Ohio Fresh Eggs’ biggest investor, Jack DeCoster, is the infamous egg baron who was all over the news last year after a salmonella outbreak at his Iowa egg operations sickened over 1,000 people and resulted in the recall of over half a billion eggs.
Ohio Fresh Eggs has yet to file an official application for expansion, which will then be followed by a public comment period. In the meantime, Licking County, where the expansions are planned to take place, was notified and it hasn’t been well-received. Commissioner Doug Smith refused to sign off on the notification letter and was quoted in the Columbus Dispatch as saying: “If something doesn’t smell right to me, and pardon the pun, then I can’t go with it.”
Read EggIndustry.com to learn more about battery cage egg production and how you can help protect hens.