Aug26

A Dozen Reasons California Will Lose Battle Over AB 1437

 

1.      When California Judge Mueller who heard the California Association of Egg Farmers and HSUS motion to dismiss on August 11, she believed at the onset the plaintiffs (the 6 states bringing the lawsuit against the California egg law) had stated a claim under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but was not convinced at first the six states could sue for a perceived injury to the egg industry alone.  Missouri’s AG stated the issue is not just an injury to the egg industry but to the entire population of the six states because the California egg law imposes California's policy choices on egg farmers in other states while those citizens have no political recourse to change that policy since they can't vote in California.  This is a compelling argument against both motions to dismiss.

 

2.      California has the right to enact laws or regulations governing the production of eggs in their state, but it cannot specify production standards in the other states.  By doing so, California is assuming the role of determining the commerce of eggs which we feel is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.  This too is a compelling argument and the reasons 6 states joined in this lawsuit against A.B. 1437.

 

3.      California Title 3 Section 1350 requires out-of-state egg farmers selling eggs in California to implement that state’s food safety regulations that go beyond the federal regulations under FDA’s food safety standards for eggs [21 CFR Part 118], “Production, Storage, and Transportation of Shell Eggs”. FDA’s food safety standards for eggs says states may not require "standards of quality [or] condition" that are "different from or in addition to" federal requirements. . The key is the "in addition to" requirement meaning that states can't come up with new quality standards that the federal government hasn't spoken to."

 

4.      The California opinion that increased space leads to better welfare may play well in California, but not in the other 49 states.  Consider the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2010 released a report on the welfare implications of various kinds of housing. The report concluded consumers need to balance the hen’s freedom against exposure to potential hazards such as disease vectors and the cannibalism caused by pecking. Certainly cannibalism and pecking are welfare issues, and in conventional cages where the number of chickens is minimized, these concerns are also reduced compared to other systems.  Research at NC State University demonstrating chickens reared in conventional cages had significantly greater numbers of Grade A eggs, significantly greater numbers of total eggs produced, and significantly better feed conversion rates (meaning a lower carbon footprint), and a better immune response (meaning better able to resist disease).  Certainly these are indicators of a healthier chicken and thus better welfare. Research released in June 2014 at Michigan State University examined the impact of stocking density on enriched colony cages. This study shows minimal impact on welfare in a comparison between 72 sq. in. per bird and 144 sq. in. per bird.  

 

5.      History will show that companies or groups who compromise with animal activists by giving in to their demands for production changes will never be completely satisfied with the initial changes.   Consider what some leaders in the animal rights community have stated including:                                                                                                            

“Eating meat is not your personal decision, any more than whether somebody beats their children is their personal decision.” Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary, formerly PETA.

“Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use.”  Neal Barnard, Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

“[about eggs] We want to get rid of the industry.” Miyun Park, GAP, formerly HSUS.  

These are the leaders in the animal rights community.  They don’t want to negotiate a peaceful coexistence with animal agriculture.  They want to eliminate it.

 

6.      The egg industry was divided over the national egg bill.  It also pitted the agricultural groups in Washington, DC (DC Barnyard) against UEP over the National Egg Bill.  Our association took a stand against that bill because it would have put our smaller egg farmers out of business. The farm groups got involved because they could readily see that compromising with HSUS is similar to negotiating with terrorists. 

 7.      The DC Barnyard rallied behind the King amendment (introduced by Rep. Steve King [R-IA] who introduced an amendment upholding the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution in the Farm Bill.  Although it passed the House, the conferees in the Farm Bill striped it out.  All farm groups knew despite protestations by UEP that if one group gave in and passed a national standard for production practices, other industries would be targeted too. 

 8.      Animal agriculture can learn from the experience of others in dealing with terrorists in response to animal rights groups (i.e., animal activists or environmentalists are defined by the FBI as domestic terrorists). So why do companies producing meat, milk, or eggs think giving in on eliminating cages or farrowing crates will placate the animal activists and allow those companies to continue operations? 

 9.      If A.B. 1437 is upheld, California will see a shortage of eggs like never experienced before.  With 39 million consumers in the state and only 19 million laying chickens, the eggs from 20 million chickens that currently are being imported into the state will stop.  Some farmers outside of California are rushing to develop comparable standards, but to assume there won’t be a major disruption in the marketing of eggs in California is naïve.

10.  If an injunction is filed against A.B. 1437, the flow of eggs into California will increase while California egg farmers find themselves in the position of not being able to compete due to Prop 2.  Egg production in California will dry up even faster than its water supply.

 

11. The economic impact of other states shipping eggs into California is significant exceeding $150 million annually.  This can be extracted by the data provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Between January 2012-January 2014 Iowa sent 4.9 million cases of eggs. Assuming the average per year would be 2.45 million cases of eggs or 3,266 truckloads at an average sales price of $25,000 per truckload, that's $81.6 million. Minnesota sold 45% of that total from Iowa while Missouri sold 35% of Iowa's total. Illinois sold 10% of Iowa's total. That's the equivalent of $150 million worth of eggs.

 12.  Just as the WTO (World Trade Organization) recently handed a defeat to the U.S. on the Country of Origin Labeling law (COOL), so too NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) will hand a defeat to California when it tries to impose regulations on eggs produced in Mexico destined for exporting to California. Trade agreements trump state and country laws.

Aug22

Food Giant Partners With Animal Activist Group

Last evening, August 21, the National Association of Egg Farmers fired off a statement to Nestle' the Swiss company, whose U.S. brands include Edy’s, Haagen-Dazs, Stouffer’s, Hot Pockets and DiGiorno, after it announced that it had signed an animal welfare agreement with the international advocacy group, World Animal Protection. Farm Policy picked up on NAEF's statement in this morning's news.
Nestle is not the first company to set animal welfare standards for its suppliers, but it is the first company to form an international partnership with an animal rights advocacy organization, World Animal Protection.  The advocacy organization will play an ongoing role in verifying compliance with the standards. An independent auditor, SGS, will inspect farms to ensure that the standards are being met, and World Animal Protection will accompany the inspectors on some of the visits to ensure that the audits are being done properly.
 
Nestlé stated it recognized the internationally accepted “Five Freedoms” as applied to animals:
1. Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition
2. Freedom from fear and distress
3. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort
4. Freedom from pain, injury and disease 
5. Freedom to express normal patterns of 
behavior.
 
In accomplishing this, Nestle suppliers will no longer use conventional cages for layers or gestation stalls for raising pigs.
 
The National Association of Egg Farmers expressed disappointment in the partnership without the benefit of farmers' input in defending the science behind their production practices.  NAEF also asserted that conventional cages address these "Five Freedoms" as follows:
1. Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
2. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
3. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
4. Freedom from pain, injury and disease by prevention and rapid diagnosis and treatment.
5. Freedom to express normal patters of behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and the company of the animal's own kind.
 
NAEF stated that Nestle has effectively invited the "fox into the chicken coop" that will do the opposite of the stated purpose to provide better welfare for the animals among its 7,300 suppliers.  Before other companies make the same mistake of Nestle, NAEF urged that farmers must have a seat at the table in the decision making process.
 
-- 
Aug18

Science Exonerates Conventional Cage Systems for Poultry

Science Exonerates Conventional Cage Systems for Poultry

The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES), nearing completion of a two-flock research study to better understand the sustainability impacts of various types of laying hen housing  including cage-free aviary, enriched cage and conventional cage systems has released preliminary research results. Over the course of three years and two separate flocks, CSES noted that the research assessed five areas of sustainability: (1) animal health and well-being, (2) environmental impact, (3) food affordability, (4) food safety and (5) worker health and safety. A complete overview of the preliminary results is available at www2.sustainableeggcoalition.org.

 

Egg farmers understand the importance of these statistics of mortality, hen-day and hen-housed egg production, case weight and feed conversion, but when operating costs and capital costs are factored in, today’s modern conventional cage system is providing an affordable table egg that in addition provides a humane, lower environmental impact, safe and wholesome production system.  Again science continues to exonerate conventional cages for producing eggs.

 

1. Hen production performance (19-78 weeks), first flock summary

Production parameter

Conv.

Enriched

Aviary

Ref.*

Cumulative mortality, %

4.7

5.1

11.6

6.8

Avg. hen-day egg production, %

85.9

89.0

88.1

88.2

Eggs per hen housed

352

363

340

360

Case weight, lb./case

46.4

46.9

46.3

48.6

Feed/cwt., lb./100 bd-day

22.8

23.6

23.3

22.4

Water/feed, lb./lb.

2.07

1.73

1.64

Feed conversion, lb./doz. eggs

3.18

3.13

3.28

3.14

Feed conversion, lb. feed/lb. eggs

2.02

1.99

2.12

1.94

Bodyweight at week 78, lb.

3.44

3.42

3.37

3.71

*Lohmann white reference value.

 

2. Operating and capital costs per dozen eggs, $

 

Conv.

Aviary

Enriched

Feed costs

0.395

0.408

0.394

Production labor costs

0.017

0.057

0.047

Pullet cost

0.146

0.196

0.147

Capital cost* (capital outlay x 10% return)

0.042

0.138

0.104

Sum of major cost components

0.600

0.799

0.692

*Preliminary data.

Source for Tables: Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply.

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