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.


National Association of Egg Farmers Sends Support for WSJ Op-Ed

We fully support the Op-Ed by Will Coggin in the March 26th edition of the Wall Street Journal entitled “California Flies the Constitutional Coop.” Mr. Coggin’s Op-Ed correctly noted that 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 CA’s Salmonella  reduction which goes beyond the federal guidelines 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).  This action to regulate commerce is why 5 other states have joined the initiative behind Missouri’s Attorney General Chris Koster’s lawsuit against the California Attorney General along with members of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  Those states are Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Alabama. 


California has also claimed in other newspapers that food safety, quality, and welfare were reasons for supporting this regulation.  Consider the following evidence in rebuttal.


As it relates to food safety, 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).


California claimed better quality eggs.  However, the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply is reporting on their website that their research showed that egg quality was not impacted by hen housing systems (http://www2.sustainableeggcoalition.org/). 


California claimed better welfare with their enriched cages as compared to conventional cages.  This too has been shown to be faulty. 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.


We appreciate that the readers of the Wall Street Journal can understand that California’s egg regulations are, in addition to being unconstitutional, also not science-based, but instead just more political science.


National Association of Egg Farmers Urge Attorneys General to Support MO Lawsuit Against California Egg Bill

The National Association of Egg Farmers has been involved in encouraging Attorneys General from a number of states in support of the MO AG’s lawsuit against the California egg law, and we are pleased to note that 5 states have joined in; Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R);  Nebraska AG John Bruning (R); Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt (R); Kentucky AG Jack Conway (D) and Alabama AG Luther Strange (R).  But the effort continues.  While NAEF has been encouraging Minnesota’s AG Lori Swanson to file an amicus brief, a group of egg farmers have recently met with Minnesota’s Agriculture Commissioner Dave Fredrickson to solicit his support in encouraging the Minnesota AG Lori Swanson (D).  In addition, NAEF has reached out to Texas AG Greg Abbott (R); South Dakota AG Marty Jackley (R); Utah AG Sean Reyes (R); Montana AG Tim Fox; (D) and Idaho AG Lawrence Wasden (R).


California has passed a law on eggs sold in the state claiming rights to set up production standards to block agricultural products competing with their state produce.  Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California arguing that a California farming law violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution and encroaches on Missouri sovereignty. In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 2, a ballot initiative that prohibits California farmers from employing a number of agricultural production methods currently in widespread use throughout the country. Beginning in 2015, for example, California egg producers are required to comply with new regulations concerning the size of the enclosures housing egg-laying hens.  Even before the initiative passed, California farmers, economists, and legislators expressed concern that Proposition 2 would put their state's egg producers at a competitive disadvantage by increasing the cost of egg production within California. To protect that state's farmers from out-of-state competition, in 2010 the California State Assembly passed new legislation (AB1437) requiring egg producers in other states to comply with Proposition 2 themselves in order to continue selling their eggs in California. The MO AG is asking the federal court to rule that California's legislation violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The Commerce Clause prohibits any state from enacting legislation that regulates conduct wholly outside its borders, protects its own citizens from out-of-state competition, or places undue burdens on interstate commerce.  We are hopeful you would consider filing an amicus brief in support of the MO lawsuit.

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