The initial draft of the Senate Farm Bill, released on Thursday, does not include the so-called “egg bill” language dictating cage size for egg-laying hens.
It confirms earlier speculation that Senate Ag Committee chair Debbie Stabenow would drop her plan to include the controversial provision in the farm bill markup. But National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) vice president of government affairs Colin Woodall expects it to come up again during the farm bill process.
The president of the United Egg Producers (UEP), Chad Gregory, has been highly critical of NCBA and other ag groups who are fighting against the egg bill. But NCBA’s Woodall maintains the legislation sets “a dangerous precedent”.
“And in Washington, D.C., precedent is everything,” Woodall says. “So even though this is a deal between UEP and HSUS, HSUS didn’t make any deals with us or the pork producers or anybody else in livestock—and they will use that precedent to eventually come after all of us.”
UEP’s Gregory says the egg bill is critical to the egg industry’s survival. Woodall argues federal legislation is not UEP’s only option.
“If this is really what the egg industry wants, then there are other mechanisms that they can use to push for adoption among their members—other than making Congress do the dirty work and force it upon their members,” Woodall says.
UEP represents farmers who produce nearly 90 percent of the eggs in the U.S.