Sources: Stabenow May Back Off Putting Controversial Egg Bill Language in Senate Farm Bill Draft

May 6, 2013 03:17 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Second thoughts?

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Controversial language dealing with the size of hen cages may not show up in the coming Senate farm bill draft, according to some sources, who cautioned that the fate of the language has changed several times.
Impact on smaller producers. One source revealed that after last Thursday afternoon's Ag LA meeting, Sen. Debbie Stabenow's (D-Mich.) staff apparently had second thoughts. Reportedly a staffer of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pressed hard about the language hurting smaller producers.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) has already indicated he would not support the measure if the Egg Bill language is included.

The language is legislation Stabenow cosponsored for national standards of housing hens and supported by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013 on April 25 for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens and the labeling of eggs. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced companion HR 1731 in the House. Schrader and Feinstein introduced similar bills in the last Congress to increase the size of hen cages but failed to gain enough support.

The bill has strong opposition from agricultural groups, which fear such legislation would set a precedent leading to national production and welfare standards for other livestock. Those groups include the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and other meat and dairy groups. Some Egg Bill opponents have dubbed the measure "Hilton for hens" – which sums up the emotionality behind this topic.

Costly impact cited. The bills require a phase-in of larger cages over 15 to 18 years at a cost United Egg Producers has estimated at $4 billion. State laws would be nullified and new state laws or ballot measures regulating egg production would be prohibited.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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