With the implementation date for California’s Proposition 2 less than nine months away and with several legal challenges already filed or on the way, Chad Gregory, president, United Egg Producers (UEP), said, “Even Hollywood couldn’t create this kind of drama.” Addressing the audience at the Egg Industry Center’s Issues Forum in Indianapolis, Ind., he said that the UEP board had met over the last two days to try and devise a strategy for the future of the U.S. layer industry. He said that he hopes that a plan will be approved and announced at the UEP’s upcoming legislative board meeting in mid-May in Washington, D.C.
Gregory reiterated that UEP is no longer working to secure passage of the national hen welfare legislation, the so-called Egg Bill. He would not comment on the specifics of any of the proposals that the UEP’s board is considering, however, he did say that it will be a long-term plan for the entire country and is not a measure aimed just at the California situation. The next six to seven months provide the last window of opportunity for the U.S. egg industry to get out in front and lead a transition to a future that it desires, according to Gregory. The implication was left that if the industry takes no action, the future shape of the industry could be decided by outside forces.
Gregory expressed concern that the battle over how birds will be housed to service the California market, including the publicity over the various lawsuits, may hurt egg consumption in California and the rest of the country. He said that the American Egg Board and UEP will both have to work to devise public relations strategies to deal with the negative publicity that the egg industry will likely garner in the coming months.