NAEF Offers Rebuttal in Huffington Post on California Egg Law/Cruelty Claims

This is a rebuttal to the article by Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary, in the 6/5/14 Huffington Post entitled “Why Are These Six States Defending Horrific Cruelty to Animals?”  It’s important to the readers of your paper to also learn other side of the story before drawing conclusions.  Mr. Friedrich is perpetuating the misinformation that led to the adoption of Proposition 2 in 2008 and the subsequent A.B.1437. California has the right to enact laws or regulations governing the production of eggs in their state, but it cannot specify production standards in the other states.  By doing so, California is assuming the role of determining the commerce of eggs which is a violation of the U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 granting the U.S. Congress the power to regulate commerce between the States.  California Title 3 Section 1350 requires out-of-state egg farmers selling eggs in California to implement that state’s food safety regulations that go beyond the federal regulations under FDA’s food safety standards for eggs [21 CFR Part 118], “Production, Storage, and Transportation of Shell Eggs”. That is why the 6 states are in support of the lawsuit against A.B. 1437 and should be commended. 


Mr. Friedrich’s article featured a picture of chickens in a damaged cage that is not representative of egg production in today’s modern cage facilities.  An analogy to perpetuating falsehoods would be a picture showing homeless individuals on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC just two blocks for the U.S. Capitol living on the streets and searching garbage cans for their next meal saying this is representative of the culinary choice at the nation’s capital. His statements of cruelty from today’s modern cage imply the same misinformation others have postulated that increasing space for hens leads to better welfare is incorrect. Consider the facts.  The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2010 released a report on the welfare implications of various kinds of housing. (www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/cage_noncage_systems.asp) The report concluded consumers need to balance the hen’s freedom against exposure to potential hazards such as disease vectors and the cannibalism caused by pecking. Certainly cannibalism and pecking are welfare issues, and in conventional cages where the number of chickens is minimized, these concerns are also reduced compared to other systems. This has been a learned experience in raising chickens for egg production.  Furthermore, Dr. Kenneth Anderson, NC State University, presented his research findings to delegates at the 2010 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention March 16-18, 2010 where he noted that chickens reared in conventional cages had significantly greater numbers of Grade A eggs, significantly greater numbers of total eggs produced, and significantly better feed conversion rates (meaning a lower carbon footprint), and a better immune response (meaning better able to resist disease).  Certainly these are indicators of a healthier chicken and thus better welfare.


Mr. Friedrich cites the European Union and their egg law (EU Council Directive 1999/74/ED).  The article from Farming UK (http://www.farminguk.com/News/German-egg-producers-face-insolvency-as-supermarkets-discount_29844.html) unveiled the suffering resulting in Europe as a result of implementing their national egg law on January 1, 2012.  The Germans moved even quicker than the whole of the European Union and implemented a new national law in 2010.  Farming UK quotes an international economist who predicts that 30% of the German egg farmers will likely become insolvent by October.


This is not the first time Mr. Friedrich and I have challenged one another in the press as well as publicly.  But the Huffington Post is to be commended for providing the reasons why the egg industry and those 6 states are concerned about California.