Strange Nest-Fellows

In what could be the oddest alliance since Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson made a joint TV ad for NASA, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and America’s largest association of egg producers have struck a deal. Yes, that HSUS. And yes, that egg trade group — the one HSUS has been bludgeoning with lawsuits and repeated ballot initiatives for about as long as Willie has been lighting doobies.

But a deal, it seems, is a deal. Big Egg and Big Anti-Egg have agreed to a truce, and pledged mutual support for a federal law that would transition egg farms away from “battery” cages and toward "enriched" cages over the next two decades. Yes, the same enriched cages that HSUS has been opposing for years (and as recently as just two days ago).

Reactions have been all over the map. HSUS is in full-on strut mode, as usual. The egg industry, on the whole, seems less than enthusiastic. And pork producers seem sufficiently annoyed that they may try to scuttle HSUS’s egg-housing bill when it arrives on Capitol Hill.

We’ve registered our thoughts too, over at HumaneWatch: “HSUS will be back for egg farmers. Its stated goal is to ‘get rid of the industry.’ But in the meantime, there are plenty of pork, beef, veal, and dairy farmers to hassle.”

And biomedical research scientists. And sportsmen. And restaurateurs. And the ninety-eight percent of us who enjoy a good steak or salmon filet now and then.

We’re confident HSUS will keep pushing the envelope. The big question, though, is whether America’s distinctive and storied animal agriculture sector will survive the fallout.