The Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee on Monday rejected an
Agriculture Ministry proposal for stricter legislation on chicken battery
Animal rights activists praised the panel’s move.
ministry proposal would mandate that battery cage cells be no smaller than 750
square centimeters – the minimum under European regulations – by seven years
following the passage of such a reform.
Most chicken coops in Israel
confine animals to about 300 to 350 square centimeters of space and do not meet
veterinary and environmental standards, according to the ministry.
chickens still don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” the ministry
The Agriculture Ministry reform would also allow breeders to choose
whatever type of coop they wish – aviaries, free range, organic or cages – as
long as they meet the minimum requirements of the industry and bring a high
standard of health and sanitation to their animals.
The expanded cages
would cost about NIS 2-4 extra per month for a family of five whose members each
consume 250 eggs per year, the ministry estimated.
The ministry would
provide special grants to breeders who choose to raise their chickens in
aviaries, rather than cages, funding 10 percent of their costs the first year
and 5% the following years.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan
and animal rights groups responded positively to the committee’s decision to
reject the proposal, as the regulations would not take effect for years and only
achieve minimal reform.
“When they finally go to advance this reform, the
minimal thing that it is necessary to demand is that we do not fall below the
European standards,” Erdan said. He stressed that a clause to protect animal
welfare that would take a decade to go into effect was akin to “the burial of
“I am pleased that the committee accepted my request
to not only consider the calculations of the Agriculture Ministry, which on one
hand is responsible for increasing agricultural profits, but on the other hand
is also responsible for an animal welfare law.”
The dismissal of the
proposal will provide more time to the various parties involved with
implementing legislation on behalf of the animals, Erdan said.
group Anonymous for Animal Rights criticized the ministry for submitting the
same reform to the committee for the seventh time, without making any
substantive improvements in its plans.
“We hope that the ministry will
stop walking with its head in the sand and wasting the time of Knesset members,
and will agree to developing advanced methods of breeding that are less
harmful,” Anonymous spokesman Ronen Bar said, noting that such conditions are
banned in 32 countries.
“A chicken in a cage is held in threatening
crowdedness, and for two years cannot flap its wings or even stand
Such methods, according to Bar, are “cruel and
unnecessary,” especially when a similar sized and cheaper priced option of
aviary coops exists.
“As far as animal rights organizations are
concerned, aviaries are a painful compromise between free-range coops and
battery cages, but are the right and realistic choice for today’s situation,”