NAEF Contacts Each of the 37 Senators in Rhode Island on Cage Ban

NAEF Contacts Each of the 37 Senators in Rhode Island on Cage Ban

On June 12th the NAEF wrote to each of the 37 individual Senators in the state of Rhode Island alerting them to a forthcoming companion bill to H6023 calling for the elimination of cages for chickens producing table eggs and urging a “no” vote.  The RI House is expected to pass a revised version of H6023 June 15th after testimony by NAEF and 3 others including the sole cage-layer farmer spoke against the original bill on April 6th showing the misinformation being put forward by HSUS. 


NAEF explained that the basis for this current legislation is not what's best for the chicken or the consumer in Rhode Island as demonstrated by these three lines of evidence 1) will not improve welfare, 2) food safety concerns, 3) cost-benefit and the elimination of choices for the consumers.  This email will outline why the last remaining Rhode Island egg farmer who produces eggs from caged chickens along with the National Association of Egg Farmers opposes a legislative mandate that all eggs sold in Rhode Island must be from cage-free chickens.

1. Cage-Free Will Not Improve Welfare

Chickens establish a pecking order among a population of birds. Farmers learned decades ago that chickens loose on the ground were injuring themselves from pecking. By reducing the colony size in a cage to 6-8 birds, establishing the pecking order is minimized instead of a pecking order being established among thousands of chickens.

New Research Shows More Bone Breakage in Cage-Free

A 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 and reported it at the Egg Industry Issues Forum in Columbus, Ohio in April 2017. Dr. Makagon noted the breast bone integrity is increasingly seen as an indicator of animal welfare, those broken bones are associated with increased mortality, reduced egg production and egg quality, and pain for the animal.

2. Food Safety. Penn State researchers have found that eggs from small flocks of chickens (typically cage-free) are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis as eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks. The results were published in the September 16, 2016 issue of PSU News:

That conclusion was drawn from a six-month study done last year in Pennsylvania. Researchers from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences collected and tested more than 6,000 eggs from more than 200 selling points across the state for the study.


3. The Cost Benefit Analysis


H6023 and its companion bill in the Senate will also be harmful to consumers and eliminate consumer choice. The costs to produce cage-free would increase the price of eggs more than 90 percent. This is borne out by the document (attached ) comparing egg prices in California (which established a cage density for layers at 116 square inches in implementing its egg production guidelines on January 1, 2015).  This data was reported by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Livestock, Poultry & Grain Market News National Shell Egg Index Price Report (National prices FOB and California delivered). The daily spreads after California enacted their new law were 90 percent higher than the rest of the nation.


 Conclusions. For the reasons established cage-free chickens will not improve the welfare of the chicken, small backyard flocks are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella, and the increased cost to the consumer, the National Association of Egg Farmers is opposed to H6023 and its companion bill in the Senate.


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.

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