With her latest stab at renewing the assault weapons ban a no-go, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is going back to the drawing board — or, back to the farm.

Her latest legislative effort focuses not on Sig Sauers, but on chickens.

Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013, a bipartisan bill to establish a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens and the labeling of eggs.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are cosponsors of the legislation. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced a companion bill today in the House.

“This bill is the product of an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers, which represent 88 percent of the nation’s egg industry,” said Feinstein. “It addresses a patchwork of divergent state laws by establishing a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens.”

The legislation will:

  • Outlaw the practice of starving chickens to increase egg-production;
  • Require conventional battery cages to be replaced with new housing systems that nearly doubles the space for each egg-laying hen;
  • Require that, after a phase-in period, all egg-laying hens be provided with “environmental enrichments” such as nesting boxes and scratching areas;
  • Require labeling on all egg cartons to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, including “eggs from caged hens,” “eggs from hens in enriched cages,” “eggs from cage-free hens” and “eggs from free-range hens;” and,
  • Prohibit the transport and sale of eggs that do not meet these requirements.

“This legislation is entirely consistent with California’s Proposition 2, which California voters overwhelmingly passed in 2008,” Feinstein added. “Prop 2 requires egg producers to increase cage size by 2015 so birds can stand up and extend their wings. This legislation maintains that requirement and deadline for California egg farmers; other states must comply with that standard by 2029.”