The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on the impact of the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 later this week. Two different egg groups are at odds over the bill – which would require farmers to use larger cages for egg-laying hens. Egg Farmers of America says the bill will impose unsustainable costs on farmers. United Egg Producers supports the bill – saying it would preempt competing state standards. They also note there is a long phase-in period of 18 years. Representatives of both groups will testify before Senate Ag members Thursday.
UEP is the group that cut a deal with the Humane Society of the United States to back the bill. A spokesperson for UEP says a majority of egg farmers support the legislation – and calls the newer Egg Farmers of America a deceptive splinter group. Supporters of the legislation accuse Egg Farmers of being a front group for the pork and beef lobbies. But Egg Farmers disputes the idea – and also argues that many egg producers do not support this bill. In fact – a spokesperson for Egg Farmers of America told one publication not all of UEP is united on the measure.
Part of the reason for the committee hearing is the amendment Representative Steve King added to the farm bill during the House Agriculture Committee’s process. It would make it illegal for states to stop the movement of ag products from other states if the products are made in accordance with the laws in force in those states. King has reportedly said that UEP – by backing the egg bill – is essentially throwing small producers under the bus to help its bigger members. He added that the bill is not supported by sound science – that it is part of the HSUS agenda to keep meat off our plates. King is hopeful Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow will not try to insert the egg bill into the farm bill in conference.