United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States have teamed up to push measure that would change the way poultry is raised in the United States. Part of that work is to codify those changes into law. Last week Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced Senate companion measure HR3798, which is the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012.
The legislation would establish a national standard for hen housing that would transition U.S. egg production away from conventional cages to enriched colony cages by the end of 2029. HSUS and UEP reached the agreement last year and HR 3798 was introduced to the House earlier this year. The House measure has more than 60 bipartisan co-sponsors, according to industry trade paper Feedstuffs.
The move, which is has been widely criticized by other livestock groups, presents a "camel's nose in the tent" worry that once HSUS is done with hen housing it will turn its attention to other livestock sectors and force changes there.
During debate on policy direction at the American Farm Bureau Federation earlier this year, discussion on this issue was clear. While egg-producing members are in favor of the HSUS-UEP move, AFBF members in the main, were more worried about the "what next" nature of HSUS actions.
Of course, already this year, HSUS has had an impact on future livestock housing in the swine industry with its moves on getting major pork buyers to commit to a "no gestation crate" approach to pork product buying.
Other groups have also expressed worries with UEP's approach, however UEP has been a vocal proponent of this cooperative approach noting that this gives egg producers clear direction for the future and allows sufficient time to make the transition.