News update:Mar 9, 2016

US ‘Egg Bill’ stalls at the Senate

Attempts to implement a federal layer welfare ruling across the US have stalled again, following the reluctance of lawmakers in Washington to progress the legislation.

The so-called Egg Bill, which would ratify the agreement between United Egg Producers and The Humane Society of the United States to provide laying hens with more space and cage enrichments was launched at the end of April by a group of senators. It had been hoped that the Egg Bill would be included within the new US Farm Bill, which is currently being debated in Washington.

The Senate's agriculture committee, however, has failed to endorse the proposals, in the wake of pressure from other farm groups. Pork, beef and other livestock commodity groups widely oppose the so-called egg bill because it sets a precedent for federal control over the management of livestock.

United Egg Producers president Chad Gregory expressed his frustration. "We can't begin to express our deep disappointment in our fellow livestock and farm groups who blocked this legislation simply because they were paranoid that somehow it would affect them, despite explicit language in the bill which exempts them," he said.

UEP, whose members represent over 90% of US egg output, fears that failure to secure a federal law on layer welfare will lead to a raft of different state rules, interrupting free trade and distorting markets.
The organisation hopes that the Egg Bill may still be included in the Farm Bill when it is debated by both the House of Representative and the full Senate later in June.

"If it is not part of the Farm Bill by the end of this year, we will seek to attach it to some other legislation in future years," Gregory told Poultry World.

Philip Clarke

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