IPPE: A Look at the Global, Economic Impact of Egg Legislation04 February 2013
US - In his presentation on the 'Global Impact of Animal Welfare Legislation', Professor Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst, International Egg Commission economist, described the effects of the conventional layer cage system ban in Germany in 2010.
Professor Windhorst was speaking at the Future of the US Egg Industry education program, held during the 2013 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). The program was sponsored by United Egg Producers and US Poultry & Egg Association.
According to Professor Windhorst, the ban resulted in a loss of egg production, necessitating that eggs for consumption be imported. The ban also forced many farms into foreclosure and took some time for the egg industry to recover. Professor Windhorst further remarked that "the cost of transforming to new housing in Germany was 1.2 billion," and encouraged the egg industry to be transparent and show consumers that birds are not being harmed.
As part of his presentation on the 'Economic Impact of Egg Legislation', Tom Early, vice president of Agralytica Consulting, described a study conducted last year related to the submission of the bill on egg legislation to the Senate. He also projected the economic impact of the new legislation, production costs, and consumer prices. Early stated that capital investment over the next 18 years would be $5.7 billion dollars, production costs would be up slightly with average costs increasing 1.5 cents per dozen eggs, and consumer price impact would be modest.
"It is challenging to estimate what is going to happen under this law, because you have such a wide variety of layer houses out there - different sizes, different configurations, some are still high rise, some are not," said Mr Early.
Eric Benson, president of JEM Eggs, described his company's experience with two enriched colony cage houses the company built. Each colony houses 150,000 birds, and the steel used and building costs per square foot are almost the same as conventional housing, as well as other fixed costs. Mr Benson considers the life of the buildings to be similar to conventional ones, around twenty years. The cost of enriched colony enclosures is $24.50 for each hen, while conventional housing is $14 to $15.
"We have found that performance of the birds during their lives is a little bit better than it has been for our average flock. Mortality is a little bit better or comparable. We have put in three flocks so far, and each one has outperformed the standards. We are very pleased with the results of our colony systems," Mr Benson remarked.
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