Logic Prevailed in Rhode Island Battle of Bill to Ban Cages

The National Association of Egg Farmers believe that treating animals humanely is in the best interest of both the farmer and the chicken.  How do we know if were doing that?  By basing production practices on science and not emotion. 


In the 2015 Legislative Session of the State of Rhode Island was a bill that passed the House and went to the Senate (H5505) that would ban the production of eggs from chickens kept in cages.  Why chose Rhode Island for this battle.  There’s only one egg farmer producing eggs in cages; Little Rhody Farms.  Included in the efforts to persuade the Rhode Island Legislature, there was an effort to persuade the general public.  This took on the form of a televised video of chickens in cages filmed in another state.  Also the opposing groups wrote Opinion Editorials (Op-Eds) sent to newspaper; The Providence Journal in the Capital of Rhode Island.  Below are two links; the first is the Op-Ed submitted by the NAEF.  The second link is from HSUS attacking our position and NAEF’s President personally.  This is what is done by a desperate opponent fighting a losing battle.


This was a victory for NAEF at defending the only egg farmer in Rhode Island who produces eggs from caged layers by using the available science.  The Rhode Island Senate adjourned without considering the bill (H5505) to ban caged layers.  HSUS  attacking the National Association of Egg Farmers calling it a "fringe group" and its President as an "outlier in the egg industry" is just more misinformation from HSUS.  NAEF, has a membership base of 278 farmers, one of the largest egg farmer based national associations with some of those members also participating in the other national association representing eggs, thus refuting the charges of "fringe" and "outlier". Science and logic should always prevail over emotion. This time it did!





Food Safety Claims By Animal Activists Unfounded

Lately, animal activists are claiming that conventional cages are creating health risks from increased incidence of Salmonella.  Like their welfare claims, this is unfounded and illogical.  Consider the following:
1) The claims that caged layers increases Salmonella is not even logical.  The Food & Drug Administration has issued a regulation entitled Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation (21 CFR part 118) on July 9, 2009 requiring shell egg farmers to implement measures to prevent SE from contaminating eggs on the farm.  If caged environments increased Salmonella, it's inconceivable that FDA would issue regulations governing the production of eggs in caged environments.
2) The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply finished their two-year study of the available research including food safety.  The conclusions from their analysis of the research is that eggs produced in caged environments had less fecal contamination compared to cage-free eggs. This is logical since cages allow for the eggs to be removed from the environment of the hen compared to cage-free where the eggs come into contact with manure.  Any reasoning person would conclude that keeping eggs clean and away from manure is better from a food safety perspective.  Caged eggs allow for cleaner eggs.
3) The Journal Poultry Science in 2011 [90, pp. 1586-1593] published "Comparison of shell bacteria from unwashed and washed table eggs harvested from caged laying hens and cage-free floor-housed laying hens."  This study found that the numbers of bacteria on eggs was lower in housing systems that separated hens from manure and shavings.
4) The Journal Food Control published a study June 17, 2014 entitled "Microbiological Contamination of Shell Eggs Produced in Conventional and Free-Range Housing Systems"  The conclusions state "Battery caged hens are standing on wire slats that allow feces to fall to a manure collection system beneath the hens.  Conversely, free-range hens laid their eggs in nest boxes on shavings and the eggs remained in contact with hens, shavings and fecal material until they are collected.  The longer contact time with free-range hens, shavings and feces would explain the higher enterobacteriaceae counts (pathogenic bacteria) on free-range eggs as compared to battery caged eggs."
5) As to the welfare of caged hens compared to cage-free, any reasoning person can see just watching that hens peck each other to establish the pecking order.  In a caged environment, the number of hens are minimized compared to the hundreds on the floor where the lower hen on the pecking order is pecked more often.  That would help explain what mortality among cage-free hens at the University of Bristol (UK) showed 19.1% compared to 3% for caged layers.  In the U.S. the comparison is even greater with cage-free at 28% compared to 9% for caged layers (North Carolina State University).  Furthermore, the immune response (measured from hematological and immunological indices at NC State) showed free-range chickens with poorer immune response thus leaving the chicken more vulnerable to disease.  Logically then, caged layers have lower stress when noting the mortality and immune response investigations.

NAEF Submits Egg Farmers Indemnity Plan to Federal Government

In correspondence with the key officials overseeing the avian influenza outbreak and indemnification, The National Association of Egg Farmers (NAEF) on Wednesday, May 27, provided an indemnity plan for the egg layers being depopulated.  NAEF acknowledged to APHIS this avian influenza situation is unprecedented, and that disposal is monumental, but NAEF urged the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to seek quick, but fair resolutions to these problems.  The officials receiving the indemnity plan were Dr. Lee Ann Thomas, APHIS Director of the Avian Health Center in Riverdale, MD, Burke Healey, the APHIS Incident Commander in Ft. Collins, CO, and in Washington, DC Dr. John Clifford, USDA's Chief Veterinarian, and APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea


NAEF stated that included in these fair resolutions to the problems is the need to pay indemnities as outlined in 9 CFR part 56.4 (1) (a) which states, in part, 

"For laying hens, the appraised value should include the hen's projected future egg production. Appraisals of poultry must be reported on forms furnished by APHIS and signed by the appraisers and must be signed by the owners of the poultry to indicate agreement with the appraisal amount. Appraisals of poultry must be signed by the owners of the poultry prior to the destruction of the poultry, unless the owners, APHIS, and the Cooperating State Agency agree that the poultry may be destroyed immediately."


NAEF further delineated the regulation calls for appraisals agreed upon before the destruction of the poultry.  The farmers confirmed with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N2 [notifiable avian influenza] are awaiting confirmation of the agreed upon "projected future egg production" so they can take the needed steps to dispose, clean and disinfect in preparation for repopulating.

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