Egg producers will be affected by the 2007 farm bill in two key ways, according to an interview with Randy Green, United Egg Producer’s Washington representative at the group’s recent legislative meeting. One is how the farm bill will influence the cost of doing business, while the other is the potential impact from environmental inclusions. The egg industry, along with other agricultural sectors, should be lobbying extensively for the farm bill to include research grants for cellulose-based ethanol, Green says. This would drive competitive factors to ultimately lower feed costs to egg producers.
On the important issue of animal welfare, Green sees the possibility that activists will attempt to include their cause into the farm bill legislation. All agricultural groups should continue and expand their efforts to educate and convince members of Congress that guidelines have been established through scientific studies, Green says. In addition, emphasis should also be given to lawmakers that show USDA has been important in establishing industry credibility, with the audit program being a prime example.
It’s important, Green says, to show that science is working when confronted with the challenges from animal rights activists. Another important factor, he says, is that the industry believes in choice, with the offering of many different specialty type eggs on the market today. Emphasize the fact that lower income people suffer more when no choice is given, he says.
Green says that party politics really do not figure into the farm bill as strongly as regional concerns. Interestingly, he says, is that the Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee is Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and the Chairman of the House Ag. Committee is Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., both from rural, agricultural states with a high number of egg producers. This means, Green says, that they are aware of the specific issues that are on the table for possibly inclusion in the farm bill.
Green expects the 2007 farm bill to be completed by the end of the year or certainly in early 2008.