The House Animal Welfare Caucus recently held a briefing on the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals. Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) called for passage of H.R. 5557, the "Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act." The legislation would require the federal government to purchase only products that comply with certain animal welfare standards.

The legislation would require various standards including "adequate shelter, which allows sufficient space for the covered animal to stand, lie down, get up, walk move his or her head freely, rest, and turn around completely and fully extend all limbs or wings without touching any part of an enclosure." Covered animal would include swine, cattle, chicken, turkey sheep, rabbit, etc.

Testifying at the briefing were The Humane Society, the Animal Welfare Institute, and David Favre, Michigan State College of Law. Witnesses said there needed to be exposure of conditions that animals are forced to live under, especially confinement. The event was to begin the debate on animal welfare and build support for various animal welfare proposals for next year's farm bill.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent