Egg Farmer Wins CO Lawsuit Against Animal Activists

Egg Farmer Wins CO Lawsuit Against Animal Activists

In its May 22, 2017 Egg Farmers Newsletter, NAEF brought to the attention of the egg industry, poultry press, and some in Washington, DC of a legal case in Colorado that could become precedent setting against farmers by animal activists.  The information came from Linda Chezem, a Professor Emerita at Purdue, who started an Animal Production & Law summer course many years ago for those in law school who wanted to learn about animal agriculture case law. This course is now located at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and is transitioning to an on-line class. The current lead instructor is Anthony Schutz.  

Upon receiving permission by Ms. Chezem, NAEF is publishing the facts of this case in the NAEF website to show the extreme lengths animal activists will go to end animal agriculture.
An egg farmer who produces organic, free-range eggs, applied to the Delta County Commissions in Colorado for a land use change permit in July 2012.  A lawsuit was filed from some neighbors claiming the farm was not agricultural, but really a "factor farm". This is additional proof that animal activists seek to end animal agriculture altogether as free-range egg production is not "factory farming".
The Colorado 7th Judicial District ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but the Colorado Court of Appeals overruled the verdict against the farmer and Delta County Commissioners.  A subsequent lawsuit was filed alleging civil trespass (the plaintiffs claim that dust from the farm was injurious to their health) and is scheduled for a hearing in May 2017.
On May 31st the court returned a verdict for the defendant on all counts in the case of Western Slope Layers, LLC owned by Edwin and Eileen Hostetler in Delta County, Colorado. The cause number for the case is 2014-CV-30062. This case is an example of the damage done by activists who prey on families and small communities.
According to Delta County Farm Bureau, one of the plaintiffs has stated she doubts she'll win the case in court, so she's trying to bankrupt the farmer.  $750,000 in legal fees have accrued.
Delta Country Farm Bureau, 322 West 51st Street, Delta, CO  81416 is helping collect donations to support the farmer and have asked the case be made known to others.  This is just another reminder that there is no compromise with animal activists.

Klippen Defends Caged Layers Before House Committee

Klippen Defends Caged Layers Before House Committee

On April 6th, Ken Klippen testified before the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources in Providence, Rhode Island against H6023 mandating cage-free by 2022.  Klippen joined the sole egg farmer in the State (name withheld due to confidentiality agreement) who has struggled with these efforts by animal activists for the past several years.  See website for Klippen's testimony.


The egg farmer explained the bill, if passed, would put him out of business. He also noted that cage-free eggs were not selling well, effectively squelching one activist’s survey claiming consumer preference for cage-free eggs. Dianne Sullivan from Massachusetts also testified in opposition. Readers of this newsletter recall Sullivan worked with a coalition of farm groups in Massachusetts including NAEF in trying to overturn that State’s ballot initiative last November. Sullivan cited the impact of her State, Massachusetts, on those impoverished consumers from the prices of eggs escalating as a result of a cage-free mandate. She also unleashed a barrage of verbal attacks against HSUS for their misleading donation solicitation tactics and the millions of dollars they are hoarding in offshore pension accounts for the HSUS staff instead of supporting local pet shelters with the donations as the ads infer.


The hearing lasted about 4 hours, starting at 4:40 pm and had a packed room of animal activists and just a few of us opposing. The HSUS and ASPCA were present in force and willing to testify enthusiastically in support, but only using their "feelings" about caged layers.  One tried to use her experience of flying to Japan in the middle seat on an airplane and equated that with chickens in cages.  The egg farmer is proactive and has invited legislators to his farm. One legislator spoke out favorably about what he saw occurring on the farm. The State Veterinarian Scott Marshall also spoke out in opposition to the bill saying that it would not improve the welfare of the chicken. The HSUS did cite "research saying cage free will only increase the price by a few cents per egg."  Klippen refuted those claims by presenting data from California's experience and their price differential for the entire 2016 at 90% higher prices than the rest of the country after California’s 116 square inch per chicken law went into effect.  HSUS spoke of offering the egg farmer a financial grant of $90,000 to help him transition to cage-free.  Some of the House Members were encouraged by this offer.  Klippen told the committee (and HSUS) that $90,000 would help transition only 2,200 chickens whereas the egg farmer in the State would need $1.6 million for his current flock since the average cost to transition is $40 per bird.  HSUS cited food safety concerns associated with large scale egg farmers (in reference to the 2010 egg recall).  Klippen refuted that claim by citing the Penn State research released in September 2016 where they tested more than 6,000 eggs from 200 different selling points and concluded that backyard chickens were more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella.  In the end, some House Members announced they still prefer cage-free.  Klippen asked that many food companies are planning to transition to cage-free, so why is the legislation necessary?  He objected to removing consumer choice by mandating one style of production system. Klippen added that California had the voters decide on their ballot initiative (Prop 2 in 2008), but in Rhode Island, if consumers asked why egg prices were increasing (assuming the bill passed), he would remind them their legislators voted in this cage-free mandate.


Cage-Free Egg Production Facing More Challenges

Cage-Free Egg Production Facing More Challenges



Below are two news updates concerning cage-free production practices.  One is a new video an egg farm being challenged on the humaneness of cage-free, and the other is a short recap of a paper presented at the Egg Industry Forum last week noting the problems with perches damaging the keel bone of layers.  Egg farmers searching for compromises with the animal rights community are again handed disappointments while those of us continuing to support conventional cages are being vindicated for opposing any compromise.


A New Video Claiming Inhumane Conditions at Egg Farm


The animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) who has challenged the humaneness of cage-free egg production, has circulated a video that challenges the humane conditions of cage-free layers at a Morning Fresh Farms facility in Platteville, CO.  They produce eggs to be sold at Sprouts Farmers Markets (headquarters in Phoenix), known for their organic and natural products.

The video is claimed to have been filmed at the farm location in Platteville, Colorado, over the course of nine months, according to a Phoenix Business Journal report.

Sprouts issued a statement in response to the video which states in part "Animal welfare is of utmost importance to Sprouts. All of our egg suppliers are required to meet or exceed USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services Standards, and any cage-free supplier must also meet or exceed animal welfare standards such as Certified Humane certification criteria outlined by Humane Farm Animal Care, among other nationally recognized programs. The Morning Fresh Farms’ Platteville, Colo. farm supplies Certified Humane cage-free eggs under the brand names Rocky Mountain Eggs and Egg-Land’s Best only to our Colorado and New Mexico stores."


Perches for Layers Leads to Bone Damage

A new research study shows the majority of keel bone damage originates from collisions with perches inside the layer house. Dr. Maja Makagon, assistant professor of applied animal behavior at University of California, Davis’ Department of Animal Science, discussed the results of a study conducted to analyze keel bone damage in a layer environment. Makagon, who spoke on April 19 at the Egg Industry Center Egg Industry Issues Forum in Columbus, Ohio, said the study utilized accelerometers and 3D imaging technology to study the force of the collisions and measure their effects on the keel bone.

The keel is an extension of the sternum that provides an anchor for the bird’s wing muscles and provides leverage for flight. As laying hens are being removed from a conventional cage environment, Makagon said, keel integrity is increasingly seen as an indicator of animal welfare. Damaged keels are associated with increased mortality, reduced egg production and egg quality, and keel damage is likely associated with pain for the animal.

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