Aug14

Trent Loos Radio Broadcast Outlines Lawsuit Against CA Egg Law

Trent Loos’ Rural Route Radio broadcast from Iowa on August 13 to multiple Midwestern states (Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, Montana, Texas) included a 50-minute interview of Ken Klippen, NAEF, concerning the lawsuit against the California egg law and how animal agriculture needed to fight animal activists.  Here are the highlights of what Klippen said on air:

 

·                     The oral arguments on the lawsuit against the California egg law, California Judge Mueller who heard the motions to dismiss from the California Association of Egg Farmers and the HSUS believed at the onset the plaintiffs (the 6 states bringing the lawsuit against the California egg law) had stated a claim under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but was not convinced at first the six states could sue for a perceived injury to the egg industry alone.  Missouri’s AG stated the issue is not just an injury to the egg industry but to the entire population of the six states because the California egg law imposes California's policy choices on egg farmers in other states while those citizens have no political recourse to change that policy since they can't vote in California.  

·                     Applauded the office of the Attorney General in Missouri along with the other states serving as Plaintiffs in upholding the U.S. Constitution.  He especially noted the courage and conviction of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad in joining in this fight with the Attorneys General.

·                     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.

·                     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. 

·                     FDA’s food safety standards for eggs says states may not require "standards of quality [or] condition" that are "different from or in addition to" federal requirements. . The key is the "in addition to" requirement meaning that states can't come up with new quality standards that the federal government hasn't spoken to."

·                     In commenting on the mistaken opinion of California that increased space leads to better welfare, Klippen cited the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2010 released a report on the welfare implications of various kinds of housing. 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. 

·                     Research at NC State University has demonstrated 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.

·                     Research released in June 2014 at Michigan State University examined the impact of stocking density on enriched colony cages. This study shows minimal impact on welfare in a comparison between 72 sq. in. per bird and 144 sq. in. per bird.  

·                    Critical of companies or groups who compromise with animal activists by giving in to their demands for production changes. He quoted the objectives of some leaders in the animal rights community including:                                                                                                            

“Eating meat is not your personal decision, any more than whether somebody beats their children is their personal decision.” Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary, formerly PETA.

“Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use.”  Neal Barnard, Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

“[about eggs] We want to get rid of the industry.” Miyun Park, GAP, formerly HSUS.  These are the leaders in the animal rights community.  They don’t want to negotiate a peaceful coexistence with animal agriculture.  They want to eliminate it.

·                     Agricultural groups in Washington, DC (DC Barnyard) had come together to fight against the National Egg Bill that never made it into the Farm Bill.  He said that bill would have put the smaller egg farmers out of business, but the farm groups also got involved because they could readily see that compromising with HSUS is similar to negotiating with terrorists.  The DC Barnyard rallied behind the King amendment (introduced by Rep. Steve King [R-IA] who introduced an amendment upholding the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution in the Farm Bill.  Although it passed the House, the conferees in the Farm Bill striped it out.  Klippen noted that in time, all farm groups would be pressured if one group gave in and compromised their production standards.  Animal agriculture can learn from the experience of others in dealing with terrorists in response to animal rights groups (i.e., animal activists or environmentalists are defined by the FBI as domestic terrorists). So why do companies producing meat, milk, or eggs think giving in on eliminating cages or farrowing crates will placate the animal activists and allow those companies to continue operations asked Klippen on air? 

·                     Associations representing animal agriculture must maintain a vigilance in refuting each and every false claim made about modern production practices.

·                     Commended the people in Missouri for voting in support of the Right to Farm.  A ballot initiative known as “amendment one” had opponents like the HSUS advertised heavily against the measure, but the amendment was defeated by a huge margin. Thus far, North Dakota is the only other state where voters have approved farming as a constitutional right.