Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012. The measure will likely be offered as an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill crafted by Senate Ag Committee leaders Debbie Stabenow and Pat Roberts – which was officially introduced in the Senate Thursday. Feinstein’s bill is the companion legislation to H.R. 3798. It would codify a controversial agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States. It’s likely no surprise then that those two groups applauded the measure’s introduction in the Senate. They say it will require egg producers to essentially double the space allotted per hen and make other important animal welfare improvements during a tiered phase-in period that allows farmers time to make the investments in better housing – with the assurance all will face the same requirements by the end of the phase-in period. According to United Egg Producers President Gene Gregory – the legislation will help ensure the American consumers continue to have a wide variety and uninterrupted supply of eggs at affordable prices.
The legislation also has the support of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Association of Avian Veterinarians Consumer Federation of America and others. Groups like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council are strongly opposed to the measure. NPPC has previously stated that approval of the bill would set a dangerous precedent of allowing the federal government to dictate how livestock producers operate. Both groups – as well as other livestock groups – believe the legislation is unnecessary and are concerned it could lead to costly federal standards for other types of livestock production.