Learning from the mistakes of others

The National Association of Egg Farmers remains committed to retaining conventional cage systems and allowing U.S. egg farmers to produce eggs for the consumers in their markets without the dictates of a national law mandating production standards.  This article from Farming UK (see website below) demonstrates the suffering resulting in Europe as a result of implementing their national egg law (EU Council Directive 1999/74/ED on January 1, 2012).  The Germans moved even quicker than the whole of the European Union and implemented a new national law in 2010.  


This article quotes Hans Wilhelm-Windhorst with the International Egg Commission saying that 30% of the German egg farmers will likely become insolvent by October.  Prices have fallen to where producing eggs is unsustainable.  It's interesting to note that Hans Wilhelm-Windhorst was a featured speaker at the January 2013 "Future of the Egg Industry" Forum in Atlanta during the IPPE and he reported the impact on German egg farmers in 2010 led to (1) a loss of egg production, (2) an increase in egg imports from other countries, (3) the forced foreclosure of many egg farms.  

The article shown above in Farming UK reports that egg farmers in Europe need to increase their efficiency, and that consumers want a reduction in price.  When the EU implemented their national egg law, egg farmers made the capital investments to meet the new law only to regret it later.

Will this mistake ever happen in this country?  The National Association of Egg Farmers will fight to retain conventional cage systems for the most efficient and cost-effective method of producing a safe and wholesome egg in the U.S.


NAEF Corrects Misinformation in the Press

The April 17th editorial “Egg Lawsuit Wrong for Alabama” by Michael Makarian with the Humane Society Legislative Fund continues the  rhetoric from his group that is misleading to the readers of the Montgomery Advertiser.  Alabama’s Attorney General Luther Strange is to be commended for joining the initiative behind Missouri’s Attorney General Chris Koster’s lawsuit against the California egg law. California is assuming the role of determining the commerce of eggs which is a violation of the U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 granting the U.S. Congress the power to regulate commerce between the States.  California Title 3 Section 1350 of the CA Code of Regulations requires out-of-state egg farmers selling eggs in California to implement that state’s food safety regulations including Salmonella reduction.  This appears to be a good idea to Mr. Markarian, but it already goes beyond the federal regulations under FDA’s food safety standards for eggs (Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 118 [21 CFR Part 118], “Production, Storage, and Transportation of Shell Eggs”.


Mr. Markarian’s claims that consumers are buying substandard eggs when egg farmers are not abiding by California’s law is untrue.  Dr. R.K. Gast at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southeast Regional Laboratory in Athens, GA along with 3 other scientists recently published their findings that there is no significant differences (P > 0.05) in the frequency of egg contamination  by Salmonella in chickens housed in conventional cages as compared to enriched cages, the ones promoted by California in their regulation. (Poultry Science 2014 Mar;93(3):728-33. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03641).


Mr. Markarian’s suggestion to support one national federal standard in HR 1731 and S820 would actually have led to the smaller egg farmers throughout the country including Alabama actually going out of business. Whereas the larger egg complexes could gradually make the transition Mr. Markarian suggested, the smaller egg farmers would not be able to because of the egg processing capabilities on those smaller farms. Those smaller egg farmers would be forced to make the conversion in one step leading to an economic disadvantage leading to insolvency for them.  The Humane Society of the U.S. claimed better welfare with their enriched cages in H.R. 1731 and S. 820, however consider the facts.  The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2010 released a report on the welfare implications of various kinds of housing. (www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/cage_noncage_systems.asp) 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.


Dr. Kenneth Anderson, NC State University, presented his research findings to delegates at the 2010 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention March 16-18, 2010 where he noted that chickens reared in conventional cages (310 sq. cm/bird) 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.


Agriculture is the leading industry in Alabama providing jobs and food for the nation’s consumers.  For these reasons, the people in Alabama should send their compliments to their Attorney General for his courage in supporting the Missouri AG’s lawsuit against the misguided effort by California and the misinformation by the Humane Society Legislative Fund.


New Animal Welfare Program Available to Egg Farmers

A new animal welfare program has been developed for egg farmers that provides the scientific references from 42 research articles substantiating the provisions in the guidelines.  These guidelines have been submitted to the Food Marketing Institute and the National Grocers Association as another option for egg farmers to incorporate into their production practices in response to the animal welfare concerns of consumers requesting science-based standards of production.

The National Association of Egg Farmers is offering this voluntary program free-of-charge to its members.

Today's modern, conventional farming methods provides animals in the care of farmers, protection from inclement weather, predators, and in the case of caged chickens, a year-around supply of optimal temperatures.

The goal of these science-based production practices is to qualify with published research the health and welfare of livestock and to demonstrate the farmer's abiding by the moral obligatoion to provide a healthy environment for the chickens.

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