Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has introduced the “Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012,” S. 3239, which seeks to codify an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) to nearly double the size of space allotted to egg-laying hens.
The measure, introduced the same day as the Senate Agriculture Committee’s version of the 2012 Farm Bill, is similar to legislation introduced in the House in January by Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
The legislation is strongly opposed by NPPC, which said it would set a dangerous precedent for allowing federal bureaucrats to regulate on-farm production practices.
NPPC is asking its members to call their senators to urge them to oppose S. 3239.
“If egg producers want to agree with HSUS on hen-housing standards, that’s their business,” according to R.C. Hunt, NPPC president. “But when they attempt to codify those rules in federal law, that’s everyone’s business — at least all of us in food-animal production. Producers don’t need HSUS — or the federal bureaucrats — to tell them how to run their farms.”
According to NPPC, if the legislation were enacted it would take away producers’ freedom to operate in ways that are best for their animals. It would also raise retail food prices and take away consumer choice and redirect valuable resources from enhancing food safety and maintaining the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.
Feinstein may attempt to offer S. 3239 as an amendment to the Senate 2012 Farm Bill or to agriculture appropriations legislation.
Meanwhile, the UEP has launched a website, EggBill.com, promoting the passage of legislation introduced by Schrader.