National Egg Farmers Defends Against False Air Emissions Claims

National Egg Farmers Defends Against False Air Emissions Claims

We wish to respond to the Food & Water Watch report published by the Wisconsin Gazette “Group Calls on Ban on Factory Farming in US”. It’s important to hear farmers’ views. We question the facts behind F&WW’s policy proposals calling for transitioning to diversified operations and rebuilding the infrastructure for smaller-scale farms. The report claims to outline the climate impacts, and air and water pollution concerns. Animal agriculture for meat, dairy and eggs contribute only a small part of the U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emission totals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 only 2.8% of GHG emissions came from animal agriculture and manure management. This contrasts to the emissions from electricity generation at 34%, transportation 26% and Industrial emissions at 12%. Since 1990, animal agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions has remained nearly constant. This is amazing considering increases in egg production of nearly 30%, meat production of 50%, and milk production of 16%. The fact that GHG emissions from U.S. animal agriculture have remained relatively constant while meat, milk and egg production has increased dramatically results from large scale animal agriculture operations that have worked to improve feed efficiencies, better manure management strategies and efficient use of cropland.


The National Egg Farmers are pleased to note that eggs consumed by the nation’s consumers have increased 13% during the timeframe referenced above. Yet the U.S. egg production has significantly decreased its environmental footprint in the past 50 years, according to A Comparative Assessment of the Environmental Footprint of the U.S. Egg Industry in 1960 and 2010.  Researchers at the Egg Industry Center in Ames, IA found that today’s hens are living longer due to better health, better nutrition and better living environments. These researchers studied U.S. egg production from 1960 to 2010. It’s noteworthy that today’s egg farmers are producing more eggs in 2010, yet the total environmental footprint in 2010 was 54% - 63% lower than the environmental footprint in 1960. Using 1960 technology to produce the 2010 egg supply would have required 78 million more hens, 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million more acres of soybeans. In comparison to 1960 technology, today’s egg farmers are able to feed 72% more people.


Now consider the benefits of large scale commercial farms. Today's American farmer feeds about 144 people worldwide. Approximately 85 percent of U.S. grazing lands are unsuitable for crop production. Grazing animals on this land more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food. Meat, milk and eggs are an essential part of a balanced diet because they are nutrient dense and are considered complete proteins, meaning that they contain all nine of the essential amino acids needed by humans. A 2006 the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report estimated total GHG emissions resulting from animal agriculture around the world and this may be reasons for claims. We must remember that applying global percentages from agriculture to the U.S. are misleading because the vast majority of global GHG emissions attributed to livestock production result from deforestation and converting rain forests and other lands to grow crops or pasture. Such changes do not occur in the U.S., which has seen an increase in the total acreage of forested land over the last several decades even while total agricultural production has increased. Your readers need to hear both sides of this issue.



Los Angeles Radio KCRW interviews National Egg Farmers Over Prop 12

Los Angeles Radio KCRW interviews National Egg Farmers Over Prop 12

On September 25th Ken Klippen was interviewed by David Weinburg, a reporter for the Los Angeles radio station KCRW about California’s Prop 12, the cage-free initiative before the voters this year. He asked Klippen about the proposition and heard the history behind Prop 2 in 2008 and now Prop 12 in 2018.  Klippen explained how consumers in California were being misled into thinking Prop 12 would improve the welfare of chickens.  He explained the “pecking order” among chickens establishing dominance. Klippen explained it was more humane to confine chickens into smaller populations of 6-8 birds in a cage as opposed to thousands loose on the ground.  Those cage-free chickens lower in the pecking order are often pecked to death.  It has led to higher mortality among cage-free chickens.  He stated “Forcing chickens into production systems that increases mortality is inhumane”.  Klippen also spoke of Dr. Ivan Alvarado, DVM with Merck Global Business reporting on the external parasites in cage-free farms. 83% of European cage-free egg farms are already infested with poultry red mites. All 27 member nations in the EU are about 40% cage-free compared to 16% in the U.S.. The approved medication in Europe for this parasite is not approved in the U.S.  Klippen stated “Subjecting poultry to parasites without the benefit of approved medication is inhumane”. Currently, Klippen noted that California is struggling with a major poultry disease (Virulent Newcastle Disease) with approximately 140 outbreaks in backyard (free-range flocks).  Once discovered, these chickens have to be destroyed.  This is not occurring in conventional farming methods using cages. Klippen stated “Forcing chickens into production systems where they contract poultry diseases is inhumane”. He also noted the report from The US Animal Health Association October 17, 2017 which stated: “Ascarids (round worms) are increasingly being found in cage-free operations.” Chickens pick up roundworms when they come into contact with infected feces on the ground. How will listeners the Los Angeles react to finding round worms in their eggs? When asked about a compromise, Klippen explained how the conventional cages are an improvement to how eggs were produced 50 years ago. 


National Egg Farmers Sends Press Release on its support for the King Amendment in the Farm Bill.

On July 18th, National Egg Farmers sent to PR Newswire, its press release to address the ongoing campaign against egg farmers and to show the support of the members of the National Egg Farmers for the King amendment in the Farm Bill.  Within 24 hours, 125 postings of the release were made with a potential audience of 81.7 million people. This included news sources in Washington, DC such as the Washington Post, Politico, Congressional Quarterly, Roll Call, AP, Reuters, and Bloomberg. Farm media receiving the release included Agri-Pulse, Brownfield, Capital Press, Farm Journal, Progressive Farmer and Urner Barry FoodMarket. Below is the link for the release sent to newspapers nationwide with the subtitle “Don’t Be Misinformed – Ask a Farmer about this Important Bill”:





The Farm Bill is before Congress every five years and is important to the nation’s farmers.  This year it is very important to National Association of Egg Farmers members, as the House version includes an amendment from Rep. Steve King from Iowa that seeks to uphold the U.S. Constitution commerce clause.

In effect that clause says Congress is to regulate commerce among the states, but certain states are implementing laws regulating how eggs are produced outside the state and then imported into that state. Specifically, they are pressing for removing cages for egg-laying hens.  They claim they are doing it for the welfare of the chicken and the quality of the egg.  They need to ask the farmers.  Farmers today moved to cages for welfare considerations and for egg quality improvements.

In the press release, National Egg Farmers makes the case for modern egg production practices that includes caged layers for reducing mortality, safeguarding hens from broken breast bones, and lessening external parasites particularly red mites. National Egg Farmers also provided the report from The US Animal Health Association October 17, 2017 which 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. How will consumers react to finding round worms in their eggs asked National Egg Farmers? 

Farmers know how to produce safe, quality eggs while caring for their chickens.  Don’t take that knowledge away by removing consumers’ choices and forcing only cage-free eggs said National Egg Farmers.

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