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.