UEP achievements and noteworthy events in 2021

January 20, 2022


Craig Giroux

Thankfully, UEP held an in-person Annual Executive Conference in October. More than 300 industry stakeholders attended the informative committee briefings and meetings. UEP elected a new slate of officeholders: Craig Giroux (Chair), Mike West (Vice-Chair), JT Dean (Treasurer) and Sherman Miller (Secretary). UEP held virtual committee and board meetings in January and May and Area Briefings in August.

The National Agri-Marketing Association named Chad Gregory its 2021 Ag Association Leader. This award reflects the work of UEP members who exemplify ‘Leadership by Egg Farmers for Egg Farmers,’ the accomplished UEP staff and consultants, and contributions from industry stakeholders.

Cage-Free Transition

According to USDA, cage-free nonorganic production grew from 65 million hens in January of 2021 to 92.9 million hens at the end of the year, increasing the count by 27.9 million. Cage-free only legislation passed in Nevada and Utah in 2021, bringing the total to nine states.

UEP and its partners worked tirelessly in Massachusetts to help pass legislation passed correcting a referendum that would have required eggs sold to be from hens with 1.5 square feet of space. On December 22, a law was passed with standards consistent with the space requirements in the UEP Certified  Guidelines for Cage-Free Housing, averting a major egg crisis.

Team Egg

Team Egg met in person twice in 2021 and continues to collaborate and lead on issues important to all egg industry stakeholders. American Egg Board, UEP, state association representatives and industry stakeholders have been partnering to develop a comprehensive HPAI Crisis Communications Plan which will be introduced at UEP January meetings.

Environment and Sustainability

UEP continued to help lead the US-Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry and Eggs with producers and staff actively participating in the Framework Committee. The draft framework will be sent to all UEP members in early 2022.

In collaboration with the American Egg Board, the Egg Industry Center and UEP, Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) surveys were distributed, and responses representing 125 million layers were received. Thank you to all who completed the survey.

UEP participated in countless dialogue sessions about the United Nations Food Systems Sustainability Summit, supporting animal-based protein in UN dietary recommendations.

Government Affairs

The UEP Government Relations Committee passed a motion highlighting its policy priorities for the next four years. UEP’s newly formed Government Affairs Taskforce, co-chaired by Tim Schipper and Glenn Hickman, recommended changes to EGGPAC, which helped raise nearly $120,000, a 24% increase from 2020.

Animal Welfare

UEP’s Scientific Committee for Animal Welfare (SAC) added Dr. Yuko Sato (Iowa State University), Dr. Janice Siegford (Michigan State University) and Dr. Dan Wilson (Wilson Veterinary Company) to the committee. The committee continued its work on the UEP Certified Cage-Free Guidelines. Committee Chair Dr. Janice Swanson announced that the scientific review of the current guidelines is near completion, and five draft recommendations are finished with more to follow.

Significant progress was made on UEP Certified program training videos with an anticipated April completion date. Several UEP Certified portal enhancements were completed in 2021, improving usability for participants.

UEP’s newly formed Fire Mitigation Taskforce, chaired by Dr. Craig Rowles, met several times throughout 2021 and has created a Fire Prevention and Mitigation report that will be shared at UEP January meetings.

Food Safety

The newly formed UEP Food Safety Advisory Council met numerous times in 2021 and recommended a double-blinded food safety survey which is in progress.

Animal Health & Biosecurity

The committee hosted Dr. David Swain, USDA AMS laboratory director for avian diseases research, at the UEP Annual meeting and urged all producers to increase biosecurity and prepare for an outbreak. The committee also tracked emerging avian diseases, providing resources to producers as needed.

 Staff and Consultants

UEP sadly said goodbye to Audrey Wierson and welcomed Kirsten Schutt as its new meeting coordinator. UEP continues to be grateful for the work of staff and 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).