David Lathem, the CEO of Lathem Farms and the United Egg Producers’ chairman, opened the second day of the cooperative’s legislative board meeting by commenting on the potential passage of the laying hen welfare legislation, the Egg Bill. He said, “Somehow, some way we will get this done.” Chad Gregory, president and CEO, United Egg Producers, said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the egg industry with what we have tried to accomplish the last few months. We are not giving up; we are absolutely not giving up.”
After failing to get the Egg Bill added as an amendment to the Farm Bill in the Senate Agriculture Committee as had been hoped, the focus of attention will shift to the floor of the House of Representatives. In spite of the setback in the Senate, Gregory said, "We are just as optimistic and positive as before that we can get this bill passed. We still think it is the right thing to do."
Mike McLeod, a lobbyist for the United Egg Producers, said that he believes they have a good shot of getting the Egg Bill included in the Farm Bill as a floor amendment in the House of Representatives. He said that he also thinks the bill could pass on the house floor and survive in the conference committee. If all this happens, he said that they would then need 60 votes in the Senate in favor of a Farm Bill including the Egg Bill amendment. In spite of the obstacles, he said, "We have a good pathway to victory."
Congressman Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., 5th District, is a veterinarian and farmer who has been a sponsor of the Egg Bill in the 112th and 113th Congresses. Schrader complemented the egg industry on being willing to change, adapt and engage with the opposition. He said that industries that refuse to engage their adversaries won’t survive. "If you aren't setting the table, you are on the table,” he said.
Schrader told egg producers that they will need to continue to explain to their representatives in Congress why the Egg Bill is necessary. He said that this is not an either/or bill, bad for livestock and good for egg producers. “Explain that this is what you need and that it won't affect livestock,” Schrader said. “This isn’t about other livestock industries; this is about what you need to do your business.”
“You will need to explain that this is a well-thought-out agreement,” he said. “This will be a long battle.” Schrader emphasized the importance of all egg producers getting involved and contacting their representatives. "This is your life's work," he said. "It will take all of your voices."