Don’t look now, but Colorado’s egg-laying hens, at least the ones in big production facilities, are set to become a lot happier come January 1, 2022. Theoretically, that is. What this new-found happiness will do to the price of eggs remains to be seen. For that matter, how do the powers that be know when a chicken is happy?
That’s because beginning January 1, 2023, all eggs and egg products sold in Colorado must be compliant with HB20-1343, concerning confinement standards for egg-laying hens, and 8 CCR 1202-19 Rules pertaining to the Act.
“The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) is committed not only to the welfare of egg-laying hens, but also to fair and equitable trade of eggs and egg products as we implement this new regulatory program established through legislation,” said the Director of CDA’s Inspection and Consumer Services Division Mark Gallegos.
In order to be fully compliant with the regulations:
Producers will phase into fully cage-free by 2025. Starting January 1, 2023 farms (egg producers) have to demonstrate a ratio of one square foot per hen to become certified and sell eggs in Colorado.
- Farms must hire a private inspection provider to confirm their compliance, then apply for a Certificate of Compliance from the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Certification is free of charge and serves as the record of compliance that business owners selling eggs will need for them to be compliant with the Act.
- Business owners may not knowingly sell or transport eggs and egg products produced from an egg producer that is not compliant.
- The requirement applies only to shell eggs and egg products, which include eggs and egg whites that are liquid, frozen, dried, raw, or cooked. Egg products do not include eggs combined with other ingredients, such as quiche, breakfast burritos, or cake mixes.
- For consumer transparency, Colorado-compliant eggs and egg products offered for retail sale must be labeled CO-COM on their package with no letters smaller than 1/8 inch. Bulk egg shipments must be accompanied by title documents labeled CO-COM or be accompanied by a copy of the farm’s Certificate of Compliance.
Farms with 3,000 or fewer egg-laying hens and business owners who sell fewer than 25 cases of thirty dozen shell eggs per week (750 dozen/week) are exempt from these regulatory requirements. Which means the nice neighbor down the road selling maybe one case of eggs a week for what we farm kids called “egg money” can exhale a sigh of relief — for now.
More information about the program, including FAQs and application material can be found on the CDA’s website.
Starting on January 1, 2023, CDA staff will begin inspecting retailers, farms, and eggs to ensure compliance by in-state and out-of-state producers and distributors. Since this is a new regulatory program, non-compliance by egg producers and business owners will be first addressed through education about the law.
The CDA will work with egg producers and business owners to establish a reasonable amount of time to come into compliance with the regulation. Follow-up inspections resulting in repeated noncompliance can result in enforcement action, including civil fines.
Already, 100 percent of Colorado commercial egg farms, as well as several out-of-state farms, have been certified compliant by Colorado. CDA will continue its outreach campaign to increase awareness of this new regulation through 2023.
Retailers, producers, and processors who have questions concerning the new regulations or require assistance with applying for a certificate of compliance can contact Julie Mizak at email@example.com for more information.