USA Today Bureau Chief in Los Angeles Interviews National Egg Farmers
I am trying to gauge the impact on the national egg industry. Is there anyone who can talk about it? I am at 310-709-6609.
Bureau Chief, Los Angeles
6060 Center Drive, Suite 900, Los Angeles, Calif., 90045
Bureau: 310-882-2403, Cell: 310-709-6609
It was good talking with you just now. The National Association of Egg Farmers is opposed to California's Proposition 12 in that it will force all eggs sold in the state to be cage-free.
Why Prop 12 will be less HUMANE?
The “pecking order” is the term applied to chickens establishing dominance. Where the population sizeis limited to less than a dozen birds reduces the harm from pecking as opposed to the thousands of chickens pecking each other in cage-free systems. It has lead to higher mortality among cage-free chickens. Forcing chickens into production systems that increases mortality is less humane.
Currently, California is struggling with a major poultry disease (Virulent Newcastle Disease) with approximately 170 outbreaks in backyard (cage- flocks). Once discovered, these chickens have to be destroyed. This is not occurring in conventional farming methods using cages.
FOOD SAFETY-The US Animal Health Association October 17, 2017 Report stated: “Ascarids (round worms) are increasingly being found in cage-free operations with the concern being the possibility of a consumer finding an egg with a roundworm contained inside. Most all cage-free egg producers have had such an occurrence.” Chickens pick up roundworms when they come into contact with infected feces on the ground.
In the Journal Food Control published a study June 17, 2014 entitled "Microbiological Contamination of Shell Eggs Produced in Conventional and Free-Range Housing Systems" The conclusions show why cages became the preferred method of producing safer eggs.
COST –After Prop 2 and the subsequent California law went into effect, the average price of eggs sold in California was 90% than the rest of the nation (see attachment). This is substantiated by the US Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Marke
tingService egg price reporting.
Proposition 12 will remove consumer choice. The Animal Ag Alliance partnered with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation to study consumer beliefs and willingness-to-pay for specific attributes in cage-free eggs and slow-growth boilers. Each survey had more than 2,000 respondents who made choices between products that vary in price, production practices, labeling claims, packaging, product color and appearance.
• Overall, consumers report price, safety and taste as the most important factors they consider when purchasing eggs.
• There is some potential for greater market share for cage-free eggs than what currently exists, but not a majority market share.
• More than half of egg shoppers are price sensitive showing little willingness-to-pay more for cage-free.
• Removing the option to buy affordable, conventionally-produced eggs significantly increases the share of consumers not buying eggs altogether.
I hope this covers everything we talked about.
--Ken Klippen, President