Below is the website in Nation’s Restaurant News where HSUS is showing how the egg industry is in step with their views. The National Association of Egg Farmers submitted our exceptions to this view, showing a segment of egg farmers who do not support siding with HSUS.
We take exception to the premise by Mr. Matthew Prescott that the egg industry is in step with HSUS. It’s only the marketing cooperative, UEP, that linked itself with HSUS. The National Association of Egg Farmers (formerly Egg Farmers of America) actively worked with the other national animal industry groups including the National Pork Producers Council to defeat the national legislation supported by the egg industry’s marketing cooperative and HSUS.
We opposed the legislation for the lack of science in establishing the guidelines coupled with the fact that one national federal standard would actually have led to the smaller egg farmers throughout the country actually going out of business. Certainly the nation’s restaurants would prefer a healthy, vibrant list of egg suppliers competing for sales to restaurants instead of the consolidation resulting from federal law establishing one national standard.
Mr. Prescott stated the egg producers had 6 years to make the transition to the larger cages but chose to challenge the law in the courts. This reflects a simplistic view of complex capital investments. The larger egg complexes could gradually make the transition Mr. Prescott suggested, but the smaller egg farmers would not be able to because of the egg processing capabilities on those smaller farms. Those smaller egg farmers would be forced to make the conversion in one step leading to an economic disadvantage during the transition years leading to insolvency for them.
The Humane Society of the U.S. claims better welfare with their enriched cages in one national standard, however 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. 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.
The National Association of Egg Farmers is a nationwide association representing all sized egg farms and is working to keep those farmers in the business of providing eggs to restaurants and the nation’s consumers.