HSUS and NAEF Battle Over CA Ballot Initiative for Cage-Free

HSUS and NAEF Battle Over CA Ballot Initiative for Cage-Free

On September 1, 2017 Wayne Pacelle, HSUS President, debated Ken Klippen, NAEF on KPCC, Southern California Public Radio.

The subject was the new California ballot initiative to eliminate cages for all eggs sold in California.  The debate lasted about 15 minutes and Pacelle claimed the ballot initiative would lock-in the pledges from the retailers and restaurant chains that are sourcing their eggs from cage-free farms in the near future.  He added that the 2008 ballot initiative led to California farmers simply making the cages bigger when HSUS intended no cages.  Klippen countered that claim saying the HSUS pressed for national egg legislation for larger cages just a few years ago, so his claims are misinforming the listeners.  Klippen also countered the claim that taking the chickens out of cages would reduce their stress.  He cited the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Production research results showing mortality was double in cage-free systems. The radio announcer asked about reducing stress and Klippen explained the pecking order inherent in chickens. Klippen added that the claims cage-free only adds pennies to the cost of egg production by citing USDA statistics for 2016 showing California egg prices averaged 90% greater than the rest of the nation.  Pacelle countered that 2016 was the year of Avian Influenza (Pacelle was off a whole year as AI was in 2015).

Pacelle had the final word and challenged the size of NAEF saying the UEP represented 90% of the egg industry and they are neutral on this new ballot initiative.  Attacking in this way usually signals that we were getting under Pacelle's skin.  We were ready to counter his claim with our own statistics on numbers of layers, but the radio segment ended with that last salvo by Pacelle.


ABCs of the benefits from Caged Layers

HSUS develops Cage-Free Ballot Initiative for California.


National Association of Egg Farmers Rallies Defense of Caged Layers


Since its formation in 2014, the National Association of Egg Farmers (NAEF) has defended conventional caged layer systems in producing a safe, wholesome egg.  If you believe in egg farmers know the best, safest way of producing eggs, you need to join the rally that NAEF has created. See the ABCs of this fight launched by NAEF below.


A.Food Safety and Security


Food safety is paramount and the members of NAEF are encouraged to purchase chicks from the National Poultry Improvement Plan SE-Clean breeding flocks and chick papers are tested upon delivery. Furthermore, claims that cage-free improves egg safety is simply untrue.  1.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.


 B.Human Health and Welfare

A study conducted by the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply reported


 1.The aviary system had dust levels 8-10 times higher than other systems.2.The aviary system resulted in high worker exposure to endotoxin dust particles and reduced lung function by the end of a shift.3.The aviary system also presented ergonomic challenges; hens laying in litter resulted in a lot of crawling around for employees and potential respiratory and infection hazards.

C.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.1.The cost to implement new barns for cage-free chickens needed is calculated at $45 perFor 200 million chickens, that’s a capital investment of $9 billion. Cage-free egg production costs are determined to be 36% higher* than conventional.


*Using conventional production as a baseline, aviary production was 36 percent higher in costs, reported the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply at the International Poultry Production and Processing Exposition, January 26, 2016.

 D.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:

 1.Total accumulated mortality was highest in the aviary (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 theirConventional cages reduces the size of this population and thus reduces the stress caused from pecking.2.Keel bone breakage was highest in the aviary 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


Don’t Wait to Join

The cost of produce cage-free eggs is 36% higher than conventional cages, but that increased cost is not being supported by consumers everywhere. This California reporter below says consumers not likely to pay $3.50-$4 per dozen for cage-free when regular eggs cost $1.33 per dozen.


See how NAEF has defended conventional caged systems by reading the stories on this website.






Stopping States From Regulating Commerce of Eggs

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) testified before the House Judiciary Committee July 25th and included in his testimony data from NAEF on egg prices in California compared to the rest of the nation. The hearing was to consider HR 2887 entitled "No Regulation without Representation Act of 2017" H.R. 2887, introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).  It’s objective is to stop states from adopting laws and regulations that ban the sale of out-of-state products that don’t meet their state’s criteria for production practices.


When asked by the staff of Congressional offices during the Capitol Hill visits July 19-20 if NAEF would support this legislation, we said we would, as it would benefit the nation’s egg farmers.  The bill was designed to address the growing problem of states regulating beyond their borders.  This hearing was directed at California's Prop 2 that regulates cage size for laying chickens and gestation stalls for sows as well as the recent ballet initiative that passed in Massachusetts.;utm_campaign=c34adcce6f-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ac0d35ef7c-c34adcce6f-40888829



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