It didn’t quite make the farm bill, but the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee is debating requirements for housing conditions of egg laying hens.
The legislation would require an increase in space for hens and labeling so consumers know in which conditions the hens were kept.
The legislation is a response to the 2008 California ballot proposal, paid for by none other than the HSUS (which is really an animal rights organization), which created special standards for eggs sold in the state. Since then, 5 other states have passed similar measures. Unforunately, this created a patch work of regulations for egg produces to follow.
The legislation currently being discussed by the Senate committee is a “compromise” on the issue between HSUS and United Egg Producers. They contend it will create a standard approach across the country. Other smaller organizations, such as Egg Farmers of America, oppose the bill, citing a 55% increase in the cost of eggs after the European Union put similar measures into place. They also claim there will be decreased efficiency, increased costs, and less eggs on the market. Given the drought and other foreseeable rises in food prices, maybe this isn’t the right time.
An amendment to the bill would prohibit states from passing special regulations on other farmers importing goods into other states.
The entire premise of these laws seems to be in direct violation of Congress’s Commerce Clause powers. States can violate the power when they discriminate against out of state products, or put restrictions and regulations on goods produced out of state. To think there had to be an amendment to the bill to remind states they cannot do this seems a little off.
And as to why the United Egg Producers decided to hop in bed with HSUS is beyond me. The organization is an environmental activist group that routinely goes into states, promotes extreme anti-agriculture ballot proposals, and spends millions of dollars to get them passed. The concern of others in the animal industry is valid. I highly doubt the HSUS will stop pushing its extremist agenda on other areas of agriculture just because the egg industry bent over.