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Dozen Reasons for Family Farms to Vote 'No' on Egg Bill

01 May 2013

US - Ahead of the Congress vote on the 'Egg Bill', Egg Farmers of America opposes federal standards for egg production, saying it would disadvantage family farms.

Senator Diane Feinstein from California introduced S. 820 “The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013” and Rep. Kurt Schrader from Oregon introduce H.R. 1731 companion bill calling for uniform national standards for the production of eggs. The legislation followed an agreement between United Egg Producers (UEP) and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS).

Here are a dozen reasons why Egg Farmers of America opposes federal standards for egg production:

  1. Farmers Don’t Want It! Not all egg farmers, nor all UEP members, want this legislation. A vote was never taken of the membership. Neither do the other animal farmers who see this as precedence setting for all of animal agriculture.
  2. Hurt Consumers! The United Soybean Board estimates the cost to the consumer at $2.66 billion.
  3. Europe Did This and Suffered! What happened in Europe may well happen in the U.S. In 1999, the EU passed Council Directive 1999/74/ED that banned the conventional cages for laying hens on January 1, 2012, permitting only the enriched colony cage. A similar cage is in the U.S. legislation only requiring more space than the EU. Although a 2010 study in Germany predicted that if the EU mandate were enforced, it would result in a 20 per cent shortage of eggs, the EU went forward and did sustain egg shortages with prices increasing 44% in some countries.
  4. Increase Carbon Footprint! Environmentally, the increased feed usage in the enhanced cages will also increase the carbon footprint for egg production. Under the current conventional cage system, the carbon footprint for laying chickens is the lowest for any animal in the U.S. producing meat, milk, or eggs.
  5. It will force egg farmers into foreclosure! It will cost egg farmers as much as $10 billion in compliance costs to install new enhanced cage systems. Some will be forced into foreclosure as did the German egg farmers who implemented their enriched cage systems two years ahead of the EU mandate. German egg farmers regretted installing the new enriched cages (see blog Veterinarian Reports Egg Farmers Regretted Investment in Enriched Cages)
  6. It has 'no justifiable science' as admitted by UEP! “The new standard of 124 square inches for white layers and 144 square inches for brown layers at this time has no justifiable science,” Gene Gregory, UEP President and CEO- August 16, 2011.
  7. Welfare of the animal may be compromised! In a report based on dozens of scientific studies, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) determined in January 2012 that alternatives to conventional hen housing actually “have considerable liabilities in terms of animal health, biosecurity and economic efficiency” and that enriched cages have the “potential to malfunction causing injury, harboring disease vectors or parasites or provoking aggression”. The report concludes that all housing systems have pros and cons. The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply reported findings of increased leg and wing injuries in the enriched colony cages as compared to conventional cages.
  8. It will endanger the US egg supply! Shortly after the EU mandate went into effect, the EU egg supply was reduced by up to 20 per cent, leading to egg shortages quadrupling egg prices in some EU countries. While supplies have somewhat returned, fewer egg farms are producing eggs.
  9. It will wipe out the most popular type of egg! Eggs from conventional cage systems represent more than 90 per cent of consumer purchases. This is the obvious choice of most consumers who want a safe and wholesome egg to feed their families.
  10. Alternative production systems already exist! US egg farmers produce eggs in a variety of hen housing systems, including more expensive options such as cage-free, free-range, organic, or conventional eggs. The elimination of conventional eggs would needlessly raise the price for all consumers and deny nine out of 10 consumers the opportunity to purchase their egg of choice.It is precedent setting for animal agriculture!
  11. It will set a precedent that Congress is prepared to regulate every 'square inch' of our nation’s farms. The bill opens the door for Congress to mandate how all of America’s farmers and ranchers raise and care for their animals.
  12. Small, family farms need to be protected! The laws and regulations imposed on US farmers should be rooted in thorough science, protect the livelihood of small family entrepreneurs, and ensure a safe, affordable food supply.

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