If there was one issue that was most talked about at the Cattle Industry Convention, it was probably eggs – and producers are definitely not sunny-side up on the proposed agreement between the United Egg Producers (UEP) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that would require larger cages for egg-laying hens.
“You might ask why we as the beef industry care about laying hens,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) legislative affairs director Kristina Butts. “The reason why we care is because currently there’s no production practices in federal statute and we want to keep it that way.”
Butts said legislation codifying the agreement was introduced in the U.S. House by Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR), who is a veterinarian. “This legislation opens up Pandora’s Box on Capitol Hill. While this bill currently only applies to the egg industry, it’s not a far stretch to see it applied to all animal agriculture,” Butts said, noting that Rep. Schrader believes that since he’s a vet and is on the House ag committee that he can control this legislation. “One thing we know from other issues where we’ve dealt with HSUS is that you can never be too trusting of where they’re going to go in terms of parliamentary procedure.”
Listen to Kristina’s comments on the bill here: Kristina Butts Comments
NCBA Government Affairs Vice President Colin Woodall says UEP is looking at this agreement as a partnership with HSUS. “But there is no such thing as a partnership with HSUS,” Colin said. “HSUS operates in the mode of ‘this is what we want you to do and if you don’t do it, we’re gonna do it to you.”
Colin says it is unfortunate that the issue has driven a wedge between UEP and nearly all other livestock and agricultural organizations, including other poultry groups. “But we cannot allow them to move forward. So we will defeat this,” he said.
Listen to Colin’s comments here: Colin Woodall HSUS comments
What do you think about the UEP-HSUS agreement and pending legislation regarding laying hens? There’s still time to vote on the question regarding the issue in our ZimmPoll on the left side bar.
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