May 20, 2021
Chair Rob Knecht opened the Government Relations Briefing, and UEP Washington Consultant Randy Green introduced Chuck Conner, President & CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC). Conner spoke about the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), a first-of-its-kind coalition that brings major agricultural and environmental groups together to advocate for farmer-friendly solutions to climate change. Conner is an advocate for science and incentive-based tools to tackle climate change challenges.
Bruce Summers, Administrator of USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, also spoke during the briefing, focusing on the agency’s challenges and special programs and regulatory flexibilities provided during the pandemic. New initiatives will replace the Farmers to Food Box program, which ends this May. Summers also summarized the egg and egg product procurement purchases and the new specifications for hard-cooked eggs.
During a previous meeting, the Government Relations Committee passed a motion recommending the Board approve the following 2021-2025 policy priorities: Immigration and Labor, Truthful Labeling, Climate Policy, Animal Disease Indemnities, and Capper-Volstead clarification. The Board agreed, passing this motion at its May 12 meeting.
Chair Steve George opened the Environment Briefing, with members providing updates by state.
Dr. Mickey Rubin, Director of AEB’s Egg Nutrition Center, shared AEB’s goals on sustainability. AEB, the Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University (EIC) and UEP are collaborating on a new life cycle analysis (LCA). EIC is updating the LCA surveys, and UEP will lead efforts to ensure a high level of producer participation for data collection. AEB will conduct communications and outreach.
UEP Consultant Tom Hebert provided updates on several environmental issues, including President Biden’s proposals for voluntary climate change incentives, the benefit of low emissions from laying hens but the risk of indirect emissions, and EPA releasing the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS) first draft of poultry emissions factors in June.
Chair Karyn Kreher opened the Food Safety Briefing. UEP SVP of Food Safety Regulatory Affairs Oscar Garrison stated the FDA inspections remain suspended, but Ohio, Indiana and South Carolina have started state inspections. Garrison will meet with FDA soon on this issue.
Jeff Hendricks from USDA Agricultural Marketing Service presented procurement and policy updates. He reviewed the COVID strategies implemented last year, which are still in place, and expects Shell Egg Surveillance inspections, now being conducted by phone, to resume in person soon. Hendricks reviewed the new rates for grading and audit services. AMS plans more field visits in the future to ensure consistency in grading across the nation.
Randy Green presented an update on the FDA Traceability Rule. FDA is under court order to release the final rule by November 2022, and he reviewed UEP comments. Most farms will not be required to produce records associated with the rule; that would fall to the first receiver of the eggs. But many customers will likely push this requirement back to the farm.
Chair J.T. Dean opened the Animal Welfare Briefing. Dr. Janice Swanson, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), and UEP VP of Animal Welfare Dr. Larry Sadler presented the names and bios of the three new committee members: Dr. Yuko Sato, Dr. Janice Siegford and Dr. Dan Wilson. The committee is continuing work on revisions to the UEP Certified Cage-Free guideline.
Sadler announced that AgCreate Solutions is the company chosen to create the new UEP Certified training videos. He thanked UEA Allied Division for the funds needed to upgrade the UEP Certified portal and reviewed the enhancements.
The committee recommended that in-person audits resume for UEP Certified on June 1, and the Board passed this motion in its meeting on May 12. Program Participants may request a desk audit utilizing the standard procedures identified for UEP Certified.
Organic Subcommittee Chair Sandra Lausecker provided an overview on the shortage of organic soybean meal.
The Fire Mitigation task force has met several times and has categorized mitigation methods. A report with recommendations will be released later this year.
Gregory gave a brief update on animal welfare issues. These UEP documents provide more information about state cage-free laws:
For video, photos and other resources, view Resources.