FOX News Shows Debate on California Ballot Initiative for Cage-Free Chickens

Here's the video at appeared on FOX News October 28, 2018:



Ken Klippen lives in Philadelphia, but he's trying to save egg farmers in the Midwest from a ballot measure in California. As the president of the National Association of Egg Farmers, Klippen says that Proposition 12 on the ballot in California this November, will cause "some major changes in the way eggs are produced." The measure, which Klippen calls "precedent setting," is titled the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. It would ban the sale of eggs in California that come from hens raised in small cages. It would do the same for pigs and calves.

That means most farmers who sell their produce in the state of California will either have to change their farming practices or lose one of the biggest markets in the country.


The Association of California Egg Farmers and National Pork Producers Council both oppose the measure.


Fox News spoke with a third-generation egg farmer, Chris Nichols of Chino Valley Ranchers, who also opposes Prop 12. "I would say the people who do suffer in the end are the consumer," Nichols explained, "because your price is going up."

Cage-free eggs can cost as much as twice as regular eggs. Some worry that this measure will take away consumer choice, if it passes.


Josh Balk of the Humane Society of the United States, the group that supports the proposition, disagrees. Balk said that "everyone from Walmart to McDonald's to Safeway to Denny's to IHOP are all switching to cage-free eggs."


Klippen said that although the Humane Society pretends to be a shelter organization, it is simply pushing a secret national agenda: getting people to stop eating meat altogether.

"Not only meat," Klippen added, "but stop [drinking] milk and stop eating eggs. So, meat, milk and eggs, that's their agenda."


When asked about this assertion, Balk replied that "everyone from vegans to meat eaters can completely agree, that animals should not be confined in cages."

Cages that are often too small to move an inch.



USA Today Bureau Chief in Los Angeles Interviews National Egg Farmers

On Tue, Oct 30, 2018 at 3:53 PM Woodyard, Chris < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. > wrote:

I am trying to gauge the impact on the national egg industry. Is there anyone who can talk about it? I am at 310-709-6609.


Chris Woodyard

Bureau Chief, Los Angeles

6060 Center Drive, Suite 900, Los Angeles, Calif., 90045

Bureau: 310-882-2403, Cell: 310-709-6609

Twitter: @ChrisWoodyard


On Tue, Oct 30, 2018 at 5:52 PM Ken Klippen < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >'; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text88578); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; wrote:

Hi Chris,

It was good talking with you just now.  The National Association of Egg Farmers is opposed to California's Proposition 12 in that it will force all eggs sold in the state to be cage-free.


Why Prop 12 will be less HUMANE?

The “pecking order” is the term applied to chickens establishing dominance.  Where the population sizeis limited to less than a dozen birds reduces the harm from pecking as opposed to the thousands of chickens pecking each other in cage-free systems. It has lead to higher mortality among cage-free chickens.  Forcing chickens into production systems that increases mortality is less humane.


Currently, California is struggling with a major poultry disease (Virulent Newcastle Disease) with approximately 170 outbreaks in backyard (cage- flocks).  Once discovered, these chickens have to be destroyed.  This is not occurring in conventional farming methods using cages.


FOOD SAFETY-The US Animal Health Association October 17, 2017 Report stated: “Ascarids (round worms) are increasingly being found in cage-free operations with the concern being the possibility of a consumer finding an egg with a roundworm contained inside. Most all cage-free egg producers have had such an occurrence.” Chickens pick up roundworms when they come into contact with infected feces on the ground.


In 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 show why cages became the preferred method of producing safer eggs.


COST –After Prop 2 and the subsequent California law went into effect, the average price of eggs sold in California was 90% than the rest of the nation (see attachment).  This is substantiated by the US Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Marketing Service egg price reporting.


Proposition 12 will remove consumer choice.  The Animal Ag Alliance partnered with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation to study consumer beliefs and willingness-to-pay for specific attributes in cage-free eggs and slow-growth boilers. Each survey had more than 2,000 respondents who made choices between products that vary in price, production practices, labeling claims, packaging, product color and appearance.


Key Findings:

•           Overall, consumers report price, safety and taste as the most important factors they consider when purchasing eggs.

•           There is some potential for greater market share for cage-free eggs than what currently exists, but not a majority market share.

•           More than half of egg shoppers are price sensitive showing little willingness-to-pay more for cage-free.

•           Removing the option to buy affordable, conventionally-produced eggs significantly increases the share of consumers not buying eggs altogether.


I hope this covers everything we talked about.



Ken Klippen, President



National Egg Farmers Suggests Improvements in Egg Safety Rule

Dr. Scott Gottleib, Commissioner

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

10903 New Hampshire Avenue

Silver Spring, MD  20993


Dear Commissioner:


We read with interest the food safety concerns with eggs linked to Salmonella expressed on October 4th by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). Of particular note was Rep. DeLauro question for FDA to suggest improvements to strengthen the food safety. The National Egg Farmers, comprised of approximately 200 egg farmers producing more than 10 billion eggs anuually, offers these suggestions to expand the areas for testing of Salmonella in the chain of eggs from breeders to pullets, to eggs for consumers. Every Salmonella outbreak linked to eggs publically harms the reputation all egg farmers in their programs of providing a safe, wholesome egg to their consumers.


On July 9, 2009 FDA published its final rule establishing the regulation (21 CFR part 118) entitled Prevention of Salmonella Enteritids in Shell Eggs During Production, Transportation, and Storage (74 FR 33030) [“the egg rule”].  This regulation in part 118 requires egg farmers to implement measures to prevent Salmonella from contaminating eggs on the farm and from further growth during storage and transportation, and requires these farmers to maintain records concerning their compliance with the rule and register with FDA.  The measures include standards to control risks associated with pests, rodents, and testing, cleaning, and refrigeration provisions to prevent Salmonella.


Expanding the Egg Rule: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly issued warnings of Salmonella associated with baby chicks. How did those baby chicks become infected? (https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellapoultry/index.html)

The Egg Rule acknowledges trans-ovarian transmission from the breeder to the chick, although the mechanism is still not well understood. Hens may have intermittent transmission of Salmonella throughout their life cycle.



The current regulation requires that chicks are procured from SE-monitored breeder flocks that meet the National Poultry Improvement Plan's standards for “U.S. S. Enteritidis Clean” status (9 CFR 145.23(d)) or an equivalent standard. This monitoring does not include testing the macerated male chicks destroyed at the hatchery. If hens intermittently shed SE virus, this added test of the maceration tanks may expose the trans-ovarian route. More and more, the trans-ovarian transmission of Salmonella paradigm appears to apply from the breeder hen to the commercial pullet chick as one possible route of SE transmission to commercial laying hens.


Streamlining the Egg Rule: Sec. 118.7 (a) requires environmental tests of each poultry house.  If any environmental sample tests positive, Sec. 118.8 requires four 1,000 egg samples tested at 2-week intervals for a total 4,000 eggs. When it comes to food safety, testing is important, but the Iowa State University VDL test results show that Salmonella- positive environmental samples do not necessarily translate into contaminated eggs. From 2011 to 2015, ISU VDL test results showed a dramatic drop (14% to 2.4%) in positive tests of SE from environmental samples taken at egg laying facilities. After testing over 685,000 shell eggs from the summer of 2010 until March of 2016, ISU VDL found only one positive egg pool, which was during the 2010 national recall.


Farmers are required to test the environments of their farms. The cost of environmental sampling for Salmonella these farms are borne by the farmers with single drag swabs being cultured throughout the farm. Pooling the samples will help reduce the cost to farmers without compromising safety. This is demonstrated in the 2015 research article (published in Avian Diseases 59:548-553) entitled “Validation of Single and Pooled Manure Drag Swabs for the Detection of Salmonella Serovar Enteritids in Commercial Poultry Houses” by Dr. H. Kinde et.al., California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, School of Veterinary Medicine, San Bernardino, CA. This study showed there is no significant difference between the sensitivity of environmental sampling of four-swab pooled together using the National Poultry Improvement Plan culture method compared to the single swabs analyzed by FDA’s method, but the costs are significantly less, while not compromising the efficacy of the tests.


These suggestions are offered to enhance the Egg Rule so that Salmonella outbreaks linked to eggs can be reduced while helping egg farmers become more efficient in adhering to the FDA requirements for its prevention.




Ken Klippen, President

National Association of Egg Farmers

PO Box 1065

Oaks, PA 19456-1065


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cc: John Sheehan, FDA,CFSAN

     Nancy Bufano, FDA, CFSAN

     Dr. Jerry Ramirez, FDA,CFSAN

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