Cage-free requirements to sell eggs & egg products in Nevada
During the 81st Nevada Legislative Session, Assembly Bill (AB) 399 was passed amending Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) Chapter 583, prohibiting non-cage-free eggs or egg products from being sold within Nevada. The bill requires eggs only come from an egg-laying hen that was confined in an enclosure that meets minimum standards outlined for a cage-free housing system. A two-phased compliance timeline was included in the bill to provide time in meeting these new requirements and all operations must comply with the bill provisions by these dates.
Cage-free requirements to sell eggs & egg products in Nevada Frequently Asked Questions
Who is directly impacted by these regulations?
- Farmers or egg-laying operations that sell shell eggs or egg products in Nevada
- Grocery stores, retailers, food distributors, restaurants/food vendors and processed food manufacturers purchasing or offering for sale or transport shell eggs or egg products in Nevada
What is now required?
Implementation of AB399 is a two-phase statute, the first phase effective July 1, 2022 prohibits:
- Farm owners and operators selling or distributing eggs or egg products in Nevada from knowingly confining an egg-laying hen in an enclosure which has less than 1 square foot of usable floor space per hen. (NRS 583.237).
The second phase of the regulations takes effect Jan. 1, 2024 and prohibits:
- Farm owners and operators in Nevada from knowingly confining an egg-laying hen in an enclosure which:
- Does not meet the minimum requirements for a cage-free housing system, or
- Is a cage-free housing system that has insufficient usable floor space for each egg-laying hen.
What species are included in this regulation?
The regulation defines an egg-laying hen as a female chicken, turkey, duck, goose or guinea fowl that is domesticated and is kept for the purpose of producing eggs commercially.
What is considered a cage-free housing system?
A cage-free housing system is an enclosure for egg-laying hens which is located indoors or outdoors, in which animals are unrestricted and free to roam (exceptions noted below) and:
- Allows the egg-laying hens to exhibit natural behaviors, including, without limitation, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and dust bathing areas;
- Enables farm employees to provide care while standing within the usable floor space for the egg-laying hens; and
- For a system located indoors, allows the egg-laying hens to be unrestricted and free to roam, except for the presence of exterior walls and interior fencing that is used to contain the entire flock of egg-laying hens within the system or to subdivide the flock of egg-laying hens into smaller groups. Use of interior fencing is allowable if it enables farm employees to walk through each contained or subdivided area to provide care to egg-laying hens and provides each egg-laying hen the minimum amount of usable floor space, as set forth in NRS Chapter 583.237.
Multi-tiered aviaries, partially slatted systems and single-level, and all-litter floor systems which satisfy the conditions above qualify.
What housing systems are NOT considered “cage-free”?
Systems that are commonly referred to as battery cages, colony cages, enriched cages, enriched colony cages, modified cages, convertible cages, furnished cages or any similar cage system do not satisfy the conditions noted above and therefore would be in violation of the statute.
What is considered “usable floor space”?
The total square footage of floor space provided to each egg-laying hen, as calculated by dividing the total square footage of floor space provided to egg-laying hens in an enclosure by the total number of egg-laying hens in that enclosure. This includes both ground space and elevated flat or nearly flat platforms upon which the egg-laying hens can roost, but does not include perches or ramps.
Are there situations where an egg-laying hen may be confined?
Confinement of an egg-laying hen during the following activities is acceptable:
- Medical research for which the egg-laying hen is used;
- Administering health care (examination, testing, treatment or surgical procedure) to an egg-laying hen by, or under the direct supervision of, a licensed veterinarian;
- The transportation of the egg-laying hen;
- A state or county fair exhibition, 4-H program or other similar exhibition involving the egg-laying hen;
- The slaughter of the egg-laying hen so long as the slaughter complies with the rules and regulations governing the slaughtering of such animals; and/or
- Temporary periods for animal husbandry purposes. Such temporary periods must last not more than six hours in any 24-hour period and not more than 24 hours total within any 30-day period.
What type of documentation do I need to show that my poultry operation is compliant?
Farmers located in Nevada who are selling shell eggs and egg products within the state are required to annually obtain a Producer Certificate from the NDA. This process includes an inspection to validate compliance.
Operations located out-of-state can demonstrate compliance to the NDA and their buyers through third party audits or other verification processes accepted by the buyer. Those operations inspected and certified through United Egg Producers Certified Cage-Free program meet the minimum standards.
Are there exceptions to the requirement for Nevada farmers to transition to cage-free housing systems?
A farm owner or operator who meets the following criteria is not required to demonstrate minimum standards for cage-free housing systems and obtain cage-free certification to sell their product:
- Has an annual shell egg production of 3,000 or fewer egg laying hens, and
- All shell eggs sold or transported for sale in Nevada by the farm owner/operator are derived from the 3,000 or fewer egg-laying hens.
Do these new regulations govern the grades and standards for sale of eggs in Nevada?
No, grades and standards for the sale of eggs in Nevada are outlined in existing law and can be found by reviewing NRS Chapter 583.110-583.210.
What products sold in Nevada are included in this regulation?
- Eggs that are in the shell from an egg-laying hen, and
- Egg products include eggs in raw or cooked form that are separated from the shell and intended for human consumption in a liquid, solid, dried or frozen state. Yolks and whites, including those that may be separated, mixed or strained are included.
What about combination food products assembled outside of Nevada and sold within the state containing eggs on the ingredient list?
The definition of egg products for this regulation does not include egg products in further processed items such as cookies, cookie dough, ice cream, mixes used for making pancakes or cakes or any other combination food product that is composed of more than egg products, sugar, salt, water, seasoning, coloring, flavoring, preservatives, stabilizers or similar food additives.
Will egg-laying hens raised outside of Nevada be held to the same standard as farmers raising those animals in Nevada?
Yes. All eggs and egg products sold in Nevada must meet the same requirements regardless of where they were produced.
As a grocery store, retailer, food distributor, restaurant/food vendor or processed food manufacturer, how do I know I am sourcing eggs that are compliant?
Ask for written certification from your supplier to accompany egg and egg products that you receive. Retain a copy of certification with your records. Operations inspected and certified through the United Egg Producers Certified Cage-Free program meet the minimum standards
What happens if I sell shell eggs or egg products that are not compliant?
A farmer, business owner or operator who knowingly sells shell eggs or egg products in Nevada that were produced by an egg-laying hen which was confined in a manner that conflicts with the regulation standards are subject to civil penalties as outlined in NRS Chapter 583.700.
Do these regulations include package labeling requirements?
Nevada Revised Statue Chapter 583 does not include package labeling requirements. See the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service's Labeling Guidance for Shell Eggs for labeling requirements of grademarked products.
Division of Plant Health and Compliance