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Introduced by Senator Miller of Chittenden District and Senator Campbell of Windsor District

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Agriculture; confinement of hens; cage‑free eggs

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to direct the state to purchase only humanely raised eggs.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


The general assembly finds:

(1)  Vermont is known for its high‑quality agricultural products. Vermonters take pride in buying fresh, healthy food from local producers and in knowing that their state government is doing the same. Vermont farmers have benefited in recent years from consumer trends in the rapidly expanding organic food markets.  Humanely raised eggs are gaining momentum as consumer demand continues to grow across the nation.

(2)  About 95 percent of the roughly 300 million hens in the United States are confined in barren wire battery cages so restrictive that birds do not have enough space to spread their wings.  In fact, each hen is allotted a space smaller than 8.5 by 11 inches, smaller than a standard sheet of paper, in which to live out her entire life.

(3)  Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings, Inc. recently announced that it will phase in the exclusive use of humanely raised eggs in all of its ice cream products.  Burlington‑based Bruegger’s Bagels will start a humanely raised egg pilot program by switching its egg supply to humanely raised sources in all of its stores in Wisconsin.  Students at the University of Vermont and Middlebury College are working with administrators to implement exclusive humanely raised egg policies, while Vermont Law School has already implemented a humanely raised egg policy.  Over 100 universities nationally have enacted policies to eliminate or drastically reduce their use of battery‑cage eggs.

(4)  Exclusive state purchasing of humanely raised eggs would have minimal negative impact on most egg farmers in Vermont as only two battery operations exist in the state and one already has a cage‑free production unit. 

Sec. 2.  29 V.S.A. § 909 is added to read:


(a)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Humanely raised hen” means a female domesticated chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or guinea fowl which, other than being confined during the first ten days of its life, during actual transport, or during the provision of individualized veterinary care by a licensed veterinarian which shall not exceed a period of ten days, has never been confined for all or the majority of any day in a structure in which each bird does not have the ability to fully spread its wings without touching the sides of such enclosure or other birds.

(2)  “Egg” means the shell egg of the domesticated chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or guinea fowl.

(b)  Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, no eggs shall be purchased for departments, offices, institutions, or other agencies of the state and counties unless such eggs are produced by humanely raised hens.

(c)  This section shall apply to purchases made pursuant to this chapter, including but not limited to:

(1)  Purchases by the commissioner of buildings and general services.

(2)  Purchases by governmental agencies to which purchasing authority has been delegated pursuant to subsection 902(a) of this title.

(3)  Purchases through the general services administration or cooperative agreements with other states pursuant to section 903a of this title.

(4)  Purchases for public schools in the state pursuant to section 905 of this title.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont