United Egg Producers legislative meeting
Position papers on the farm bill, immigration, terrorism and more set the agenda for congresssional visits.
The United Egg Producers (UEP) held their annual legislative meeting at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC in May. This included a visit by egg producers and allied industry to visit with their congressmen on Capitol Hill with a number of position papers. The position papers this year consisted of the following subjects:
1. 2007 Farm Bill. UEP supports 100% indemnities for H5 and H7 low pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI). Authorize a program to fund on-farm research and testing of promising air emission mitigation technologies for egg farms. Ensure the information provided to the National Animal Identification System remains confidential.
2. Support real immigration reform. Provides for a temporary worker program that allows employers to recruit immigrant workers when U.S. workers cannot be found. Provides qualified undocumented immigrants now in the country a way to earn legal status. Provides for increased national security and control of the nation’s borders. Creates a workable enforcement program that imposes effective, but fair, penalties for employers in violation of the law, but does not make a scapegoat out of employers who have tried to follow the rules.
3. Support bills to punish animal enterprise terror. UEP is urging the passage of two bills that have been introduced to Congress to provide the Justice Department the necessary authority to apprehend, prosecute and convict individuals committing animal enterprise terror. In recent years extremists have gone beyond political debate and have trespassed, harassed and used other illegal tactics.
4. An issue paper with frequently asked questions and answers about the highly pathogenic Asian H5N1 strain of AI. This paper was presented to members of Congress for their information on this highly publicized concern. The paper also made some recommendations to members of Congress on how they can help such appropriation of funds for research and testing and implementation of a program to help control low-path AI.
5. Exempt animal agriculture from CERCLA and EPCRA. These laws relate to closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites and were never intended for animal waste. H.R. 4341 makes clear animal agriculture does not apply to these laws and UEP supports enactment of the legislation.
Invited speakers made presentations relating to current concerns of the egg industry. Iowa Congressman Tom Latham reviewed several new bills that affect the industry. There are $42 million currently set aside for Avian Influenza possibilities and there could be $2.3 billion should pandemic hit businesses. Discussing the animal waste issue, Representative Latham has co-sponsored the bill that says animal waste is not toxic. He emphasized that animal agriculture is absolutely critical to the U.S. now, and in the future. Regarding the immigration issue, Representative Latham said there is nothing like the diverse opinion situation in Washington as it exists currently. We need to use common sense in solving the issue. He closed by saying there is great difficulty working with budgets in Washington, D.C.
Dolph Baker, UEP Chairman, opened the Board of Director’s meeting with introductions of the Board and guests. He is encouraged by the progress of the Animal Welfare Committee and it seems that the systems are working. UEP President Al Pope welcomed the attendees and thanked everyone for coming. He also recognized Kevin Haley, Brann & Isaacson Law Firm, who is taking the place of Irving Isaacson. Irving is 91 years old and has served UEP since 1968.
The Board of Director’s meeting consisted mainly of the committee reports from the meetings held the day before. In the Environmental Committee meeting, Mitch Head and Diane Storey of Golin Harris reviewed some of the items they have been working on recently. Animal activists have been busy and it was reported that the Easter Egg Roll even had some bad publicity. The Humane Society is claiming that they now have 80 colleges changed to using only cage free eggs. Although they are claiming a major breakthrough, there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in this country. There are some colleges debating the issue and some are only trying the concept in some dining halls. Golin Harris also displayed news releases, press releases and letters to the editor relating to egg production practices. A good example of their efforts is a positive article about the scientific facts on cage produced eggs in Supermarket News.
Committee reports continued with EggPac, with Gary West saying that they achieved their goal of $100,000 for 2005 and are working on the same amount for 2006. Government Relations Committee Chairman Ron Truax thanked the committee for the EggPak program and the contribution it makes in USDA reports, AI information, immigration and FDA issues.
Steve Gemperle, Chairman of the Food Safety Committee, commented that the USDA and FDA are formulating an AI plan with UEP should the disease become a major problem. Although the committee was not able to establish a quorum, they recommended to the Board that UEP should conduct a survey of percentage of eggs already shipped should an outbreak occur.
Marketing Committee Chairman Wayne Mooney commented that their meeting talked about how to make both supply and demand adjustments. Birds should be removed and molting schedules should be done 6 weeks earlier than usual. Current prices are at the 56 cent level, a losing number and future statistics are not good. It seems to the committee that chickens are laying more eggs per hen and that consumption is going down. The industry needs to step up to the plate and do something about it. We also need to encourage retailers to do more promotion of eggs.
Mooney also encouraged producers to send in their PCT (Processing, Cartoning and Transportation) forms. Through a cooperative effort by Egg Clearing House, Urner Barry and UEP, the PCT forms will be used to more accurately identify these costs, creating a better price discovery.
Mark Oldenkamp, Chairman, opened the discussion for the Animal Welfare Committee. Much discussion took place on the current rules regarding the UEP Animal Care program and whether or not someone can come into the program without having to go through the entire de-population procedure. This issue was introduced through a letter received from a company who is not in the UEP Certified program but wants to purchase a company already in the program. They are committing to changing their cage density to comply through attrition and adjustment of their hatch rather than a de-population plan. The Board approved a motion to allow this but the company must meet the 100% rule before marketing certified eggs. Also if a company is in the process of becoming certified they can obtain a license to market eggs from a certified company. In addition, clarification of rules were discussed concerning companies that were originally on the UEP Certified program, left the program and now want to return. All current rules apply to them to re-enter the program.
Mike McLeod, Washington attorney, commented regarding the future farm bill for 2007. Never before has the political uncertainty heading into a farm bill been as it is today. A change in party control in Congress could affect the farm bill with more controls for agriculture.
Treasurer Joe Fortin reported that finances at UEP are in good condition and the audit is also fine.
The meeting adjourned with members and guests preparing for the annual Omelet Luncheon held in the Longworth Congressional Office Building, that served over 1,000 representatives and staffers.
Rollie Hartman Honored
Rollie Hartman, a well known contributor to the American poultry industry was honored on June13th at a special lunch in Redlands California. Rollie Hartman was born on June 15th, 1906 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and devoted his entire working life to the poultry publishing industry. His formal education consisted of an Agricultural Journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin with a minor in Poultry Husbandry. In 1929 Rollie became associate editor of Poultry Tribune and Hatchery Tribune for Watt Publishing Company. Over the next 20 years Rollie published Poultry Tribune from his home and moved to California to become part owner of Pacific Poultryman and Poultry Digest. He retired the first time in 1969 and then again in 1979 having again edited Poultry Digest through its transition from Garden State Publications and back to Watt Publishing.
According to Don Bell, Rollie has contributed more than any other single entity to the growth of the poultry husbandry industry, through the publishing of articles and books on the subject. He had a vast knowledge of the modern egg and poultry industry. Rollie continued writing for the industry well into his 70s and 80s. He also served as executive secretary of the Inland Empire Poultrymen, Inc., a group of southern California egg producers and marketers.
The 100th birthday party for Rollie was attended by about 30 people and was organized by Don Bell and Doug Kuney of the University of California, Cooperative Extension Service.