Strong attendance at UEP January meetings

February 8, 2024

More than 300 UEP and UEA members and industry stakeholders gathered in Atlanta, GA, for UEP's January meetings. While the ongoing highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak and recommendations for heightened biosecurity were a focus of discussions in the briefings, other significant accomplishments and issues were also presented.

Committee Briefings

Chair Sherman Miller opened the Animal Health and Biosecurity Committee briefing and presented issues regarding HPAI and biosecurity. Oscar Garrison, SVP of Food Safety Regulatory Affairs, introduced Dr. Stephanie Wire and Juliana Lenoch with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to provide updates regarding wildlife services and epidemiology. Garrison also provided an overview of APHIS’ Draft HPAI Audit Tool with more updates to come during UEP’s May meetings.

During the Animal Welfare Committee Briefing, chaired by Roger Seger, Dr. Larry Sadler, SVP of Animal Welfare reminded producers that audit preferences are due on Feb. 15, 2024, and that all audits must be completed by Nov. 30, 2024. Sadler reminded attendees that there are no changes to the UEP Certified Cage Guidelines in 2025, but the finalized 2025 UEP Cage Guidelines have been updated and finalized. UEP’s president and CEO Chad Gregory and Sadler provided updates on U.S. cage-free layer housing statistics and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) Egg Tech Prize.

Chair Kim Rice opened the Food Safety Committee Briefing and introduced Jeff Hendricks and Nicole Dixon with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to provide an overview of the AMS SmartApps. SmartApps has been piloted for the last six months with 75 participating poultry producers with the goal of shifting paper-based forms to a digital platform. Dr. Deana Jones with USDA also joined the briefing to provide an overview of the International Poultry Research Center in Athens, GA. UEP's Garrison and DC consultant Randy Green provided a thorough FDA regulatory overview, which included updates on FDA traceability work and planned guidance, the Healthy Final Rule and FSMA’s updated “farm” definition.

In the Environment and Sustainability Committee Briefing, chaired by Doug Mack, UEP's environmental consultants Tom Hebert and Lauren Lurkins provided a federal regulatory update, which focused on the current open public comment periods on EPA's Emergency Preparedness and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Endangered Species Act (ESA) biological evaluation relative to the potential effects of rodenticides. Comments for EPCRA are due Feb. 15, and the rodenticide comment period ends Feb. 13. The Committee provided a roundtable report of state-level environmental development before Dr. Mickey Rubin, with the American Egg Board (AEB), provided updates on AEB's sustainability initiatives.

For assistance submitting comments, please get in touch with Tom Hebert and Lauren Lurkins.

In the Government Relations Committee Briefing, Chair Matt Dean and UEP's D.C. consulting team of Randy Green and Louie Perry presented potential topics for the 2024 position papers. The committee chose papers on HPAI, food labeling, and egg prices, which will be presented to legislators in May. Perry shared an overview of the upcoming 2024 elections and mentioned that President Biden signed the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, which allows authorized programs to continue through Sept. 30, 2024. Jeff Hendricks provided an AMS report, which included updates on purchasing and grading.