Apr30

Minneapolis Star Tribune Prints NAEF Rebuttal to Humane Economy

On April 30, 2016, The Minneapolis Star Tribune published the following rebuttal to HSUS's article on The Humane Economy.
 
Dear Editor,
This is in response to Op-Ed "The Humane Economy Goes Cage-Free Chic" submitted by Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), appearing in the April 25th Minneapolis Star Tribune. It's partly true that HSUS has been successful in turning some adversaries into allies who go along with the cage-free rhetoric.  This has convinced a great many retailers to transition to cage-free eggs, but that's only part of the story.  But many egg farmers, especially those in the National Association of Egg Farmers including many from Minnesota, disagree as experience has taught them that cage free often results in more chicken deaths, and lower quality of eggs from manure contamination.
 

Removing chickens from cages, where they have been for decades, will lead to issues with chickens dying. Imagine a flock of thousands of chickens establishing a pecking order among themselves.  Those lower on the pecking order are pecked more often.  This is minimized in a cage environment where only a few birds are placed.

Additionally, the cage-free eggs are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria due to prolonged exposure from litter and manure in the nest boxes or on the ground.

As for the workers in cage-free barns, the amount of dust, which can transmit pathogens, inside the barn represents a health risk to farm workers, and the need for workers to collect floor eggs creates ergonomic challenges, too.

The most recent Salmonella enteritidis (a foodborne pathogen) outbreak linked to eggs comes from a cage-free farm in Lebanon, Ohio.  A recent Food and Drug Administration warning letter was issued to a cage-free egg farmer in Missouri.  Yet the narrative that cage-free chickens is more humane and produces a better quality egg is gaining traction from advocates such as HSUS.

Farmers want to please their customers and so there will be more cage-free farms built, but the smaller farmer will struggle with the estimated costs of $40 per bird for the labor, building, feeders, waters, and nests in their cage-free barns.  The larger egg farmers will build these structures and increase their market share as the smaller farms cannot compete.  Welcome to "Humane Economy."  We only hope your readers will realize that cage-free eggs are already available along with organic eggs and conventional eggs, all at prices that fit the customers' needs.

Dear Editor,
This is in response to Op-Ed "The Humane Economy Goes Cage-Free Chic" submitted by Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), appearing in the April 25th Minneapolis Star Tribune. It's partly true that HSUS has been successful in turning some adversaries into allies who go along with the cage-free rhetoric.  This has convinced a great many retailers to transition to cage-free eggs, but that's only part of the story.  But many egg farmers, especially those in the National Association of Egg Farmers including many from Minnesota, disagree as experience has taught them that cage free often results in more chicken deaths, and lower quality of eggs from manure contamination.
 

Removing chickens from cages, where they have been for decades, will lead to issues with chickens dying. Imagine a flock of thousands of chickens establishing a pecking order among themselves.  Those lower on the pecking order are pecked more often.  This is minimized in a cage environment where only a few birds are placed.

Additionally, the cage-free eggs are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria due to prolonged exposure from litter and manure in the nest boxes or on the ground.

As for the workers in cage-free barns, the amount of dust, which can transmit pathogens, inside the barn represents a health risk to farm workers, and the need for workers to collect floor eggs creates ergonomic challenges, too.

The most recent Salmonella enteritidis (a foodborne pathogen) outbreak linked to eggs comes from a cage-free farm in Lebanon, Ohio.  A recent Food and Drug Administration warning letter was issued to a cage-free egg farmer in Missouri.  Yet the narrative that cage-free chickens is more humane and produces a better quality egg is gaining traction from advocates such as HSUS.

Farmers want to please their customers and so there will be more cage-free farms built, but the smaller farmer will struggle with the estimated costs of $40 per bird for the labor, building, feeders, waters, and nests in their cage-free barns.  The larger egg farmers will build these structures and increase their market share as the smaller farms cannot compete.  Welcome to "Humane Economy."  We only hope your readers will realize that cage-free eggs are already available along with organic eggs and conventional eggs, all at prices that fit the customers' needs.