Election results and committee briefing highlights

October 20, 2022

During the Annual Conference, UEP re-elected its slate of current officers at the Board meeting on October 14: Craig Giroux as chair; Mike West as vice chair; J.T. Dean as treasurer; and Sherman Miller as secretary.

J.T. Dean chaired the Animal Welfare Briefing, and Dr. Larry Sadler, VP of animal welfare, provided UEP Certified Program updates and noted training videos are now available in English and Spanish. On-farm audits were reinstated in June with the option to request a desk audit based on HPAI considerations. The committee will continue to discuss this issue and bring a recommendation to the UEP Board in January.

The committee reviewed the Scientific Advisory Committee's recommendations for changes to the cage-free guidelines and voted these be moved to the Board for review. The Board approved the committee's motion for UEP Certified program fees to remain at the same level for 2023.

During the Animal Health and Biosecurity Briefing, chaired by Sherman Miller, HPAI dominated the agenda, though updates also were provided on mite control and Egg Drop Syndrome. Steve George reviewed resources that track the migration of wild birds and suggested producers develop wild bird control plans to lower the risk of introducing HPAI onto farms. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Wildlife Services can assess farms, identify risks and provide recommendations to control wild birds, and state agencies can also assist. The committee agreed to wait on a position regarding HPAI vaccines until after the IABS HPAI vaccination strategies meeting is held on October 25-26.

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is accepting proposals for HPAI research projects. Miller urged meeting attendees to encourage universities and other organizations to submit proposals due November 1.

Vice Chair Brent Booker opened the Government Relations Briefing, and Jennifer Porter, USDA Agriculture Marketing Services (AMS) deputy administrator, presented program updates. Egg and egg product purchases will continue to increase with plans for AMS to purchase an additional $1B for food banks this fiscal year in addition to other buys. UEP has consistently urged USDA to purchase more eggs and egg products for its feeding programs, especially programs that serve those most in need. In the fiscal year 2022, USDA purchased 20 million pounds of eggs and egg products worth more than $40 million.

UEP Washington Consultants Louie Perry and Randy Green gave legislative and regulatory updates.

Chair Karyn Kreher opened the Food Safety Committee Briefing. Oscar Garrison, SVP of food safety regulatory affairs, reviewed FDA rules. The Lab Accreditation rule is final, and FDA is in the process of accrediting labs. Once FDA has enough labs, it will issue a notice to producers who will have six months to begin using the accredited labs for Salmonella enteritidis testing for egg testing. This does not affect the environmental samples required in the FDA egg rule but is just for egg testing if a positive environmental sample is found. The FDA Traceability Rule is under review by the Office of Management and Budget and is expected to be released on November 22.

Jeff Hendricks, USDA AMS National Shell Egg Supervisor, provided information on new and updated resources, including the sanitation videos, which are now available in Spanish.

Doug Mack chaired the Environment Briefing, and UEP consultant Tom Hebert gave an overview of current environmental issues. AEB’s Mickey Rubin reported the industry life cycle analysis (LCA) is being assessed by third-party review, and the final report will be available by the end of 2022.  AEB is working on an LCA communications plan.

Ryan Bennett, director of the US-RSPE, along with Rubin and Mack, provided extensive information on the public rollout of the US-RSPE sustainability framework. The committee proposed and passed a motion proposing that UEP form a Framework Utilization Task Force under the UEP Environment and Sustainability Committee to facilitate UEP members’ full utilization of current and future iterations of the roundtable framework. The Board passed this motion at its meeting on October 14.