Members advocate for egg industry during Legislative Meetings and Hill visits

May 25, 2022


UEP Legislative Meeting attendees heard from ranking members of the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees, visited Senators and members of Congress on the Hill and participated in robust issue discussions during the UEP 2022 Legislative Board and Committee Meetings held May 18-20 in Washington, D.C.

Sen John Boozman

First on the agenda was a review of UEP's Position Papers, led by UEP Consultants Randy Green and Louie Perry. The 2022 topics focus on Labor and Immigration, Truthful Labeling, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), Egg Prices and the Cage-Free Transition.

Representative Glenn (GT) Thompson

During the Government Relations Committee Briefing chaired by Rob Knecht, Senator John Boozman  (R-AR), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, spoke about the importance of farmer input in the upcoming farm bill discussion and educating legislators and consumers about the bill's significant impact on nutrition, schools and rural health.

Representative Glenn (GT) Thompson (R-PA), Ranking Republican Member of the  House Agriculture Committee, acknowledged agriculture workforce challenges and shared legislative efforts to ensure reliable, year-round workers. He discussed the HPAI outbreak and USDA's need for funding and the tools to make science-based decisions. The Senator and Congressman both support truth in labeling and science-based, voluntary climate programs.

Dr. Rosemary Sifford, Deputy Administrator of USDA Animal and Health Inspections Service and Chief Veterinary Officer, and Dr. John R. Clifford, USAPEEC Veterinary Trade Advisor and Former USDA Chief Veterinary Officer, both addressed attendees during the Animal Health and Biosecurity Committee Briefing, chaired by Sherman Miller.

Dr. Clifford and Dr. Sifford

Dr. Sifford spoke about the declining HPAI detections in commercial flocks and the challenges with depopulation. She encouraged continued biosecurity vigilance, attributing only 20% of the confirmations to lateral spread. Dr. Clifford presented the issues associated with an HPAI vaccine, especially regarding trade. Following the two speakers, attendees had an extensive discussion about HPAI mitigation and vaccines. Drs. Sifford and Clifford participated, providing input and answering questions.

Oscar Garrison, SVP of Food Safety Regulatory Affairs, provided FDA regulatory updates on birds with outdoor access and possible FDA targeted inspections during the Food Safety Briefing, chaired by Karyn Kreher. USDA National Shell Egg Supervisor Jeff Hendricks reviewed several Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) updates and emphasized that graders should adhere to producer biosecurity policies. Shell egg surveillance will remain remote. The Purdue Extension Sanitation Video Modules are now complete, and versions in Spanish will be available in September.

Doug Mack chaired the Environment and Sustainability Briefing. UEP environment consultant Tom Hebert provided an update on the Egg Industry Center's Analysis of the EPA Emissions Factors. Tony Wesner discussed Rose Acre Farm's interactions with EPA regarding feathers and dust from the hen houses in water. This has been defined by EPA Region 5 as wastewater requiring permitting. Senior Counsel for Public Policy Travis Cushman from the American Farm Bureau Federation provided details about the SEC Rulemaking on Mandatory Climate Change Reporting. See more on this topic here.

Several important updates were presented during the Animal Welfare Briefing, facilitated by Vice-Chair Roger Seger. Organic Subcommittee Chair Sandra Lausecker reported the International Trade Commission has determined that the U.S. organic soybean industry was materially injured by imports of organic soybean meal from India, sold at less than fair value.

VP of Animal Welfare Dr. Larry Sadler provided updates on UEP Certified training videos which will be available in June. Dr. Sadler also presented an update on the Scientific Advisory Committee's (SAC) work on the Cage-Free guidelines. SAC spent significant time assessing the standards and presented 12 documents detailing recommendations. The Producer Committee for Animal Welfare is reviewing the proposals and will provide feedback to SAC. Currently, the process is on track to have the Cage-Free guidelines updates finalized by January 2023.

The committee recommended continuing desk audits through June, and the UEP Board passed this motion. UEP staff will research hybrid audit models for review by the committee in mid-June.