Egg Farmers Rebuttal to NPR on Organic Poultry having access Outdoors

Egg Farmers Rebuttal to NPR on Organic Poultry having access Outdoors

This is in response to the January 11th article in NPR MarketPlace "An Animal Welfare Rule Aimed at Organic Egg Production is on the Chopping Block." We trust that NPR MarketPlace intends to provide both sides of the debate from people knowledgeable in poultry welfare and will therefore print our rebuttal to the claims that outdoor access for poultry improves animal welfare. It does not when considering the possibility of spreading poultry diseases.

When the National Association of Egg Farmers who represent approximately 200 egg farmers nationwide filed their comments, they expressed appreciation that the purpose of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522) is to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent and uniform standard (7 U.S.C. 6501), but we questioned the subjective nature of some of the proposed amendments pertaining to egg laying chickens without the benefit of practical science.

Outdoor access was one proposal that would not contribute to better poultry welfare because it can subject chickens to poultry diseases such as highly pathogenic avian influenza. This is recognized by the US Department of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service noting that chickens outdoors should not have contact with migratory waterfowl. (http://www.usda.gov/documents/avian-influenza-protect-birds-qa.pdf). Migratory birds, through fecal contamination, can fly over a flock of outdoor chickens and contaminate them. One teaspoon of avian influenza infected manure dropped among outdoor chickens has the potential to contaminate one million chickens. In 2015 the loss of chickens and turkeys from avian influenza cost the US economy more than $3 billion in dealing with the disease and increased egg costs to the consumer.

While we appreciate organic egg farmers reaching for greater consistency in organic livestock practices through specificity and clarity of certain organic feeds fed to organic poultry, outdoor access for poultry is not improved welfare with its potential to devastate once again the other egg farmers producing conventionally in cage systems for their customers.

(Article in NPR MarketPlace)


Kraft Foods Urged to Re-Consider Cage-Free Policy

To the Board of Directors at Kraft Foods

On December 12, 2017 The National Association of Egg Farmers, representing egg farmers nationwide, respectfully urged Kraft Foods to reconsider its policy on sourcing eggs only from cage-free egg production flocks.  There are four reasons why farmers have evolved to producing eggs with chickens in cages.



1.Food Safety and Security


Food safety is paramount and refutes claims that cage-free improves egg safety. Penn State researchers have found 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. The analysis of the Salmonella enteritidis present in the eggs from small flocks shows they are the same types commonly reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from human foodborne outbreaks.


  1. 2.Human Health and Welfare

A study conducted by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply reported that the cage-free system had dust levels 8-10 times higher than other systems. In addition, the cage-free system resulted in high worker exposure to endotoxin dust particles and reduced lung function by the end of a shift.

  1. 3.Sustainable Egg Production Systems

The rush by retailers and food manufacturers to source their egg needs from cage-free facilities must consider these facts on sustainability.The cost to implement new barns for cage-free chickens needed is calculated at $45 per chicken.  For 200 million chickens producing for retailers demanding cage-free systems, that’s a capital investment of $9 billion. Cage-free egg production costs are determined to be 36% higher than conventional.

  1. 4.Animal Welfare and Husbandry

The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply reported at International Poultry Production and Processing Exposition in Atlanta, GA on January 26, 2016:

Total accumulated mortality was highest in the cage-free system (11.5 percent), due to aggressive pecking and cannibalism. It was 4.7 percent in conventional cages. This results from the hens establishing a pecking order among the chickens in a flock. Conventional cages reduces the size of this population and thus reduces the stress caused from pecking.

Keel bone breakage was highest in the cage-free system. Increased keel bone breakage was confirmed with New Research at the University of California-Davis. This new research study shows the majority of breast bone damage originates from collisions with perches in cage-free environments. Dr. Maja Makagon, assistant professor of applied animal behavior at University of California, Davis’ Department of Animal Science, noted the increased bone breakage in cage-free systems.



Support for HR 2887 "No Regulation without Representation"

The National Association of Egg Farmers sent an invitation on September 27th to the state poultry & egg associations listed below to join them in resisting the Humane Society of the United States in their second California ballot initiative effort by supporting Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's bill HR 2887 "No Regulation without Represenation". Attached is the letter sent to the associations.

Alabama Poultry & Egg
Arkansas Poultry Federation
California Egg Farmers Association
California Poultry Federation
Connecticut Poultry Association
Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.
Florida Poultry Association
Georgia Poultry Federation
Illinois Poultry Industry Council
Indiana State Poultry Association
Iowa Poultry Association
Iowa Turkey Federation
Kansas Poultry Association
Kentucky Poultry Federation
Louisiana Egg Commission
Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Inc.
Midwest Poultry Federation (Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota)
Mississippi Poultry Association
Missouri Poultry Federation
Nebraska Poultry Industries
North Carolina Egg Association
North Carolina Poultry Federation, Inc.
Ohio Poultry Association
The Poultry Federation Oklahoma
Oregon (Pacific Northwest Poultry Council)
PennAg Industries Association Poultry Council
South Carolina Poultry Federation
Tennessee Egg and Poultry Association
Texas Poultry Federation
Virginia Egg Council
Virginia Poultry Federation
Wisconsin Poultry & Egg Industries Association

Letter sent:

We are reaching out to all state poultry & egg associations. Please help us in being proactive in stopping the Humane Society of the U.S.

We are writing you to urge support for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's bill HR 2887 "No Regulation without Representation" in hopes of ending the efforts of the Humane Society of the U.S. in establishing production standards for eggs layers and gestation sows, and eventually for all of animal agriculture. (Bill copied below). HSUS has already stated publicly this legislation is their number one target to defeat in Congress. The National Association of Egg Farmers has come out in support of the bill as we have seen how one ballot initiative in California is not enough for the activists.

Recently I debated with Wayne Pacelle, President of HSUS, on California Public Radio. Here's the audio tape showing our egg farmers are willing to fight this second ballot initiative in California.: https://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2017/09/01/58935/chicken-or-egg-what-does-it-mean-for-california-to/

But we need more than simply defense against the activists. We need to go on the offense and that is what Rep. Sensenbrenner's bill will do. We urge you to contact your Representatives, especially those on the House Judiciary Committee, to get this bill through committee and on the Floor of the House of Representatives. After doing so, please let us know. Please help us do this for the sake of animal agriculture in the U.S.

Ken Klippen, President

H. R. 2887 To regulate certain State impositions on interstate commerce.
JUNE 12, 2017
Mr. SENSENBRENNER (for himself, Mr. GOODLATTE, Mr. DESJARLAIS, Mr. MCCLINTOCK, Mr. GROTHMAN, Mr. MEADOWS, Mr. CONAWAY, and Mr. TROTT) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To regulate certain State impositions on interstate commerce.

<<  1 2 [34 5 6 7  >>