The Senate Agriculture Committee met Thursday morning to discuss the controversial egg bill that would set national welfare standards for egg-laying hens. The legislation failed to pass as an amendment to the Senate farm bill. Ranking Member Pat Roberts expressed deep skepticism about the legislation. He questioned whether the bill is based on sound science, its impact on food stamp spending and the extent to which United Egg Producers polled its members before signing onto a deal with the Humane Society of the United States. Several egg producers in favor of the bill – and one opposed – testified before the committee. Legislation sponsor Dianne Feinstein of California also addressed committee members. She testified that the Congressional Budget Office has found the bill will not increase government spending. Feinstein added that studies have shown the measure would only increase egg prices minimally.
Among other things – the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 – would require farmers to use larger cages for egg-laying hens. This and other housing changes would be phased-in over the next 15 to 18 years. For UEP – the compromise with HSUS seeks to provide egg producers with regulatory certainty. For HSUS – the legislation fulfills a goal of giving hens more space. But the bill is of great concern to livestock groups who fear it would set a dangerous precedent of allowing the federal government to dictate how livestock producers operate. Groups like the National Pork Producers Council believe the legislation could lead to costly federal standards for other types of livestock production.
Source: NAFB News service