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Backers of the Egg Bill got a bit of a reprieve when the Farm Bill failed to pass in the House of Representatives by a vote of 195 for and 234 against. The Egg Bill was not included in the Farm Bill legislation that didn’t pass, so supporters of the Egg Bill may get another chance to add it to the Farm Bill.
The United Egg Producers' laying hen welfare agreement with the Humane Society of the United States provides the blueprint for the Egg Bill, and the United Egg Producers remain committed to seeking passage of the Egg Bill. David Lathem, chairman, United Egg Producers, said, “ While we were disappointed that our egg amendment was not in the bill that failed in the House, we will press forward and hope that our bill is in whatever farm bill that passes the House.”
Chad Gregory, United Egg Producers president, added, “We are very hopeful that we can get the vote on our bill that we have been denied thus far in the legislative process. We know that legislating a national standard for egg production is not popular with some other farm groups. But the vast majority of our board of directors supported it as the best alternative to a patchwork of conflicting state laws. UEP has always been a leader—whether in animal welfare standards, food safety standards, or environmental and sustainability practices. Leaders don’t always win popularity contests; but they fight for what they believe is right; they stand on principle; that’s what we have always done, and that’s what we are doing here.
“I believe the next decade will show that what we stand for, and the broad coalition of support that we generated for it, is the way of the future. We think that the principled and practical way that we have tried to resolve the problems in our industry is the way forward for American agriculture," Gregory continued. "We firmly believe that farmers must try to accommodate their customers and provide what consumers want. We remain committed to helping our farmers and our industry find the best way to continue serving our customers and the nation’s egg consumers this incredible food product every day, efficiently and affordably.”
So for U.S. egg producers who want to know what type of new cage, if any, to buy, you will still have to wait and see. It could be that the Egg Bill is just the bargaining chip needed to swing more votes in favor of the Farm Bill. Keep your Senators and House members phone numbers programmed into your phones; there is still more work to do. The “fat lady” isn’t singing yet, and the show goes on.