The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on S. 3239, the “Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012.”
That’s the bill that would codify the agreement between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States. It would establish federal cage-size standards for egg-laying hens.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and other livestock groups oppose that legislation. They say it could open the door to similar animal care regulations on their industries down the road.
NCBA vice-president of government affairs, Colin Woodall, says his group does support the amendment to the House Farm Bill that would bar states from imposing their own animal-welfare standards on eggs, meat and other ag products brought in from other states.
The amendment, successfully attached to the farm bill by Iowa Congressman Steve King, is aimed at preventing farmers in other states from having to comply with measures such as California’s Prop 2 initiative that requires farms to provide more space to hens, hogs and other livestock.
Woodall says NCBA will push to keep the King amendment in the final version of the farm bill.
“I think it really helps box in these activist groups—really throws a wrench in their ballot initiatives that they’ve been putting in place across the country,” Woodall says.
“So we’re supportive of what Mr. King did. We’re very happy with that. Our goal is to keep that language in place because it would make it much harder for groups like HSUS to do their state-by-state march.”
Woodall made those comments in an interview with Brownfield during the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver.
The witness list for Thursday’s Senate Ag Committee hearing includes California Senator Dianne Feinstein; David Lathem of Georgia, chairman of the United Egg Producers; Eric Benson of California, president of J.S. West and Companies; Greg Herbruck of Michigan, executive vice president of Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch; and Amon Baer of Minnesota, owner of Mendelson Egg Company.