Oct17

National Egg Farmers Prepare for Environmental Challenges after New IPPC Report

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report 15 claims the latest disaster  “tipping point” is just 12 years away. If governments around the world fail to make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, human civilization and our planet face cataclysm”, the IPCC asserts.   This gave rise to a number of inquiries for the National Egg Farmers, from non-farmers who want to see and end to the way we produce eggs, on the contribution from agriculture to the Greenhouse Gas emissions impacting the environment. We’ve addressed this before, but this new report called for us to update our supporting science showing GHG from agriculture at less than 8 percent. You can use this as a template if you get someone complaining, or let me know and I'll respond to them.

 

The IPCC insists that fossil fuel use must be slashed from over 80 percent of global energy today to zero by 2050 – and the world must spend $2.4 trillion per year for the next 17 years to subsidize the transition to renewable energy. That’s on top of the $2 trillion per year already being spent on Climate Crisis, Inc. research, consulting, carbon trading and renewable projects.  Now we are looking at $60-80 trillion by 2036! 

 

You may have seen accusations that animal agriculture is contributing 40 percent to the GHG emissions overall.  This is disingenuous as it is the worldwide contribution and some countries are involved in deforestation and planting crops which increases GHG.  The U.S. has not seen an increase in the total acreage of deforested land over the last several decades even while total agricultural production has increased. The GHG emissions in the U.S. from all of agriculture is less than 8%.  The report substantiating the claim of less than 8 percent is entitled "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990-2015" published by the EPA (430-P-17-001. It shows all of agriculture, not just animals was responsible for 7.9 percent of GHG. Here's the website with all 633 pages.

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-02/documents/2017_complete_report.pdf

 

In the report it states that in 2015, agricultural activities were responsible for emissions of 522.3 MMT CO2 Eq., (this stands for million metric tons of CO2 equivalents) or 7.9 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide were the primary greenhouse gases emitted by agricultural activities. Methane emissions from enteric fermentation and manure management represented approximately 25.4 percent and 10.1 percent of total CH4 emissions from anthropogenic (caused by humans) activities, respectively, in 2015. Agricultural soil management activities, such as application of synthetic and organic fertilizers, deposition of livestock manure, and growing N-fixing plants, were the largest source of U.S. N2O emissions in 2015, accounting for 75.1 percent. Carbon dioxide emissions from the application of crushed limestone and dolomite (i.e., soil liming) and urea fertilization represented 0.2 percent of total CO2 emissions from anthropogenic activities. 

 

Now, consider what is great about the U.S. egg industry.  Its production has significantly decreased its environmental footprint in the past 50 years, according to A Comparative Assessment of the Environmental Footprint of the U.S. Egg Industry in 1960 and 2010.  Researchers at the Egg Industry Center in Ames, IA found that today’s hens are living longer due to better health, better nutrition and better living environments. These researchers studied U.S. egg production from 1960 to 2010. It’s noteworthy that today’s egg farmers are producing more eggs in 2010, yet the total environmental footprint in 2010 was 54% - 63% lower than the environmental footprint in 1960. Using 1960 technology to produce the 2010 egg supply would have required 78 million more hens, 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million more acres of soybeans. In comparison to 1960 technology, today’s egg farmers are able to feed 72% more people.  

Oct04

New Trilateral Trade Deal Benefits U.S. Egg Farmers

October 1st in a Rose Garden address, President Donald Trump discussed the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico. He said the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) protects American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. President Trump spoke of a number of issues from the new agreement. he stated "The USMCA scores a big win for American farmers by eliminating Canada’s “Class 7” program, which allowed others to undersell American dairy products. Canada will provide new access for U.S. dairy products, eggs, and poultry".

The National Egg Farmers brought to the President's attention the inequities of trade with Canada over eggs and egg products.  Our members, both shell egg and further processors, asked us to engage when the President first outlined his intentions to change NAFTA.  And we did! Please share this news with your non-member peers producing and processing eggs so they can appreciate we are not a one-issue association.

Many members of Congress and other organizations praising the new agreement.  These were collected by the Corn Refiners Association who spearheaded a coalition of farm groups, which included National Egg Farmers, to advocate for change in NAFTA. Of course, the Canadian Dairy Industry says they've been sold out, but the new agreement ends many of the barriers imposed on U.S. produced dairy and eggs. 

Oct04

USA Today Asks National Egg Farmers the Reasons for Opposing Prop 12

USA Today Asks National Egg Farmers the Reasons for Opposing Prop 12

On September 28th National Egg Farmers submitted the following reasons for why the nation's egg farmers are opposed to the new ballot initiative in California, Prop 12, that 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 size is 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.

 

Dr. Ivan Alvarado, DVM with Merck Global Business reported at a poultry conference on the external parasites in cage-free farms. 83% of European cage-free egg farms are already infested with poultry red mites. All 27 member nations in the EU are about 40% cage-free compared to 16% in the U.S..The approved medication in Europe for this parasite is not approved in the U.S.  Subjecting poultry to parasites without the benefit of approved medication is inhumane.

 

Currently, California is struggling with a major poultry disease (Virulent Newcastle Disease) with approximately 140 outbreaks in backyard (cage- flocks).  Once discovered, these chickens have to be destroyed.  This is not occurring in conventional farming methods using cages.

 

Infectious Coryza Disease. The August 2018 Georgia Poultry Laboratory “The Chick Papers” reported “In more recent history, a new threat has made itself known. Virulent Newcastle Disease (VND), formerly known as Exotic Newcastle Disease (END), has spread through backyard flocks of California posing a threat to commercial production there.

Now there is Infectious Coryza (IC). To prevent exposure to IC, avoid suspected flocks and maintain your biosecurity procedures, especially if small flock operations are in your vicinity.” “Small flock operations are typically cage-free.

Forcing chickens into production systems where they contract poultry diseases is inhumane.

 

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.

 

Penn State researchers in September 2016 published their research findings that eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis as eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks of caged layers.

 

COST –After Prop 2 and the subsequent California law went into effect, the average price of eggs sold in California was 90% higher than the rest of the nation.  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.

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