The results of a survey conducted by the independent research company, The Bantam Group, have been released. According to the 2,000 respondents to the survey, legislation that was introduced last week in Congress that would transition egg production from the existing conventional cages used for egg-laying hens to enriched cages was favored by a 4-to-1 margin. Federal legislation was favored by a 2-to-1 margin over state legislation. The study was commissioned by the United Egg Producers who along with the Humane Society of the United States are the major proponents of the legislation.
"This is legislation that egg farmers and consumers overwhelmingly support," said David Lathem, a Georgia egg farmer and chairman of UEP.
The question of federal versus state legislation has become a major issue because several states already have established, or are in the process of establishing, different laws regarding the housing and sale of eggs in each of their states. The Supreme Court last week ruled in favor of pork and beef farmers who argued that a federal law regarding livestock processing pre-empts a state law that was passed in California.
While H.R. 3798 has the support of UEP, HSUS and several other egg and animal rights groups, it is being opposed by several agriculture groups including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and numerous other commodity organizations. NCBA President Bill Donald has criticized the legislation that was introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.
"Decades ago, our farmers and ranchers voluntarily took it upon themselves to work with veterinarians, animal health specialists, university researchers and with each other to develop animal care practices and guidelines. That is why the programs have been so successful, certainly not because politicians in Washington, D.C., mandated them," Donald said. "This legislation, while currently only affecting egg producers, could set a dangerous precedent to allow government bureaucrats in Washington to mandate how farmers and ranchers across the nation raise and care for their animals. This legislation won’t improve animal health or care and will result in further costly and burdensome regulations being placed on America's food producers."