The Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers jointly announced on Thursday the introduction of S.3239, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012, sponsored by a group of senators led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

This measure is the Senate companion to H.R. 3798, introduced in January by a group of congressmen led by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR).

In short, the legislation will require egg producers to essentially double the space allotted per hen and make other housing changes in a tiered-in process over the next 15 to 18 years.

The legislation is backed by a number of animal rights organizations, egg and poultry groups and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Chief Executive Officer Neil Dierks comments that this legislation – both in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate – “has far too big an impact on consumers for them to be introduced without any public hearings or debate.”

Gene Gregory, president of the United Egg Producers, says the legislation “will help ensure the American consumers continue to have a wide variety and uninterrupted supply of eggs at affordable prices.”

In contrast, Dierks questions: “At a time when our nation’s economy is so fragile, why are we allowing special interest groups to draft legislation that will place a significant financial burden on American consumers, federal nutrition programs and American farmers?”

“This bill sets a very dangerous precedent for all farmers and consumers,” he charges.