State of the Union

January 21, 2021

By Chad Gregory, President and CEO

UEP was created to unite egg producers and lead the industry through complex challenges and catastrophic events. 2020 tested our mission to the core. Thankfully, UEP has dedicated leaders with a strong board of directors and resilient committees, the finest staff and consultants in all of agriculture, strong partnerships with the American Egg Board and state and other industry organizations, and the unwavering support of UEA Allied. UEP was well prepared for 2020.

UEP Strategic Priorities 2020-2025

Though COVID-19 challenges dominated 2020, UEP continued its focus on the future.

In early March, UEP convened a strategic planning roundtable with 25 diverse industry leaders who recommended four strategic priorities for UEP. In early August, after a thorough review by various stakeholders, the UEP Board approved Sustainability, Market Transparency, Government Affairs and Industry Collaboration and Communication as the four Strategic Priorities for UEP from 2020-2025.

UEP’s newly formed Market Transparency Task Force, Government Affairs Task Force, Food Safety Advisory Council and Team Egg had inaugural meetings and met on several more occasions.

Beyond COVID

  • UEP continued to monitor and report news about cage-free legislation in various states. Colorado was the only state that passed cage-free legislation in 2020.  Efforts in Arizona, Maine and Hawaii stalled due to COVID-19.
  • The UEP Animal Welfare Committee and Board passed motions to work with the Scientific Advisory Committee to complete a thorough analysis of the UEP Certified cage-free guidelines. Areas of focus are on the prospect of outcome-based measures, the addition of pullet guidelines and ensuring UEP Certified guidelines match or exceed other programs. Updated UEP Certified training videos and portal upgrades were also approved.
  • The Government Relations Committee and Board passed a motion to approve letters to FDA and USDA FSIS urging both agencies to ensure truthful labeling of plant-based egg imitators.

  • UEP hosted a member call, with hundreds attending the meeting on Coryza in Pennsylvania and other states.
  • UEP proudly announced the 15 experts and 5 producers that will serve on the renamed and repurposed Food Safety Advisory Council.
  • UEP held virtual committee and board meetings in October and again elected a determined and strong board of directors.
  • UEP continued to help lead and shape the US-Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry and Eggs by being an active participant on the Framework Committee.
  • EGGPAC contributions increased to $96,000.

Remembering industry icons

UEP remembers the industry leaders lost in 2020: Bill Owens, Fred Adams, Nick Schimpf, Dave Reesman and Gene Gregory. UEP extends condolences to their families and will continue to build on the foundation established by these industry greats.

Taking action against COVID-19 in 2020

As the saying goes, “by the time you need friends, it’s too late to make them.”  2020 will go down in the history books as a year we needed an abundance of friends. Thankfully, UEP had already cultivated strong, working relationship with FDA, USDA and other government officials.

  • Due to the severe loss of foodservice customers, UEP petitioned FDA for the flexibility to sell eggs at retail in cartons or flats without labels and establish guidelines for eggs intended for breaking to be safely marketed at retail, consistent with provisions of the Egg Safety Rule. FDA eventually provided this much-needed flexibility.
  • UEP worked with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to facilitate the shift of eggs from foodservice, where they were not needed, to retail, where they were desperately needed. AMS temporarily modified its requirements to make this possible.
  • UEP helped producers and suppliers, including carton manufacturers, understand the Department of Homeland Security’s critical infrastructure plans, confirming that both egg producers and the companies that supply them are essential businesses that must continue to operate.
  • UEP worked with state poultry executives and regulators to clarify state regulations and egg laws to permit eggs to be sold in bulk with a placard and generic cartons at retail in some states.
  • UEP and over 200 other associations sent a letter to Congress requesting liability protection for essential businesses.
  • UEP created a “COVID-19 Library” to consolidate the resources on egg production from the CDC, USDA, FDA and other sources. The library continues to be updated several times a week and will remain available indefinitely.
  • In May, the UEP Animal Welfare Committee and Board voted to conduct desk audits for the UEP Certified Program for the remainder of the year.
  • UEP worked with government officials to get much-needed assistance for its members with Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, and deeming ag workers as essential employees, so they are high on the vaccine list.
  • Protecting the safety of our members and stakeholders, the UEP Legislative Meetings and the Future Leaders Conference were canceled. Area Briefings, the Annual Executive Conference and many committee and task force meetings were successfully held on Zoom.

Thank you!

UEP continues to be grateful for the work of our devoted consultants:  Hinda Mitchell (Inspire PR), Tom Hebert (Bayard Ridge Group, LLC), Randy Green (Watson Green, LLC), Louie Perry (Cornerstone Government Affairs), and Chris Ondeck (Proskauer).

To those who served in 2020 – thank you for your time, expertise, passion and dedication. We truly could not have gotten through the year without your leadership and support. Thank you to all our UEP and UEA members, state egg association partners, American Egg Board and other stakeholders for your faith in UEP, your membership and support. Together we are TEAM EGG and together, we do great things! 


Taking action against COVID-19 in 2020