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This State Is Facing an Imminent Egg Shortage

A new law threatens to put unprepared egg producers out of business.

It looks like 2021 isn't going to be "over easy" for Massachusetts. An animal rights bill taking effect January 1, 2022, threatens to decimate the state's supply of chicken eggs—unless the legislature can amend it in time.

The bill in question is The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, a state law passed by ballot referendum in 2016. When it takes effect next month, the law will institute new ethical standards for Massachusetts' agricultural industry. One section of the law will prohibit the sale of eggs produced by chickens "confined in a cruel manner"—specifying a new minimum cage space of 1.5 square feet. With the current industry standard at just one square foot, the law could put many chicken farms out of business as they're unprepared to meet the new requirements.

RELATED: Bacon May Soon Get More Expensive and Vanish in This State

According to The New England Brown Egg Council, a trade group representing chicken farmers, egg supply in Massachusetts could drop by as much as 90% if the new law is enacted. There has also been concern about increases in egg prices. As Restaurant Business reports, the cost could climb all the way to $5 per dozen.

With the supply and price issues posing a threat both to consumers and to Massachusetts' restaurant industry, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker weighed in Tuesday, warning state legislatures of the problem and imploring them to take action.

Massachusetts lawmakers are currently working to amend the 2016 law, with both the House and Senate having already drafted revised bills. A six-member committee was convened in October to reconcile the drafts, but has yet to produce a final version—which would need to be approved by both houses of Congress before being approved by the governor.

With the January 1 deadline right around the corner, Massachusetts lawmakers will need to hustle to amend the law before it takes effect. Time to get cracking.

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Owen Duff
Owen Duff is a freelance journalist based in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s. Read more