UEP January meetings informative, well attended

February 4, 2021

The virtual UEP January Committee Briefings had over 300 participants, reflecting strong interest in industry activities and issues

Board Chair Tom Hertzfeld, Jr., opened the meeting, and President and CEO Chad Gregory presented the significant work completed on UEP’s 2020-2025 Strategic Priorities. The Market Transparency Task Force has met multiple times, reviewing best practices. Under Industry Collaboration & Communication, Team Egg, with leaders from UEP, American Egg Board, Egg Nutrition Center, Egg Industry Center, state associations, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Egg Farmers of Canada and the International Egg Commission, met, established goals and scheduled ongoing collaborative meetings. Under Sustainability, Gregory and several UEP members are actively involved in the  U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs initiative to complete a sustainability framework this year. Three UEP members will pilot building sustainability programs based on the framework. The Government Affairs Task Force has met and made several recommendations to improve EGGPAC, emphasizing a year-round focus on government relations.

Chair Steve George opened the Environment Committee Briefing and members provided updates by state. Tom Hebert, UEP’s Environmental Consultant, stated EPA anticipates issuing the first draft of the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS) poultry emissions factors in June 2021 with a comment period in 2022. The NAEMS completion date, anticipated to be at the end of 2022, will end the moratorium for holders of air consent agreements. Hebert encouraged producers to have a relationship with state regulators, be aware of dust factors for flocks over 1.5 million and anticipate pressure on new construction. Hebert also shared his perspective on the Biden administration environment priorities and EPA Administrator nominee Michael Regan. UEP and several ag groups support Regan’s nomination. Dr. Richard Gates, Director of the Egg Industry Center (EIC), presented an overview of EIC's research and market information for the industry, stakeholders, media, and consumers.

Chair Rob Knecht opened the Government Relations Briefing and introduced Government Affairs Task Force Co-Chair Tim Schipper, who presented an overview of the task force’s goals and recommendations. Two immediate recommendations are enabling monthly contribution options and asking each member company to appoint an EGGPAC champion to encourage participation.

National Shell Egg Supervisor Jeff Hendricks, from USDA Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS), stated AMS will begin quarterly meetings on Zoom in mid-February. For an initial period, AMS will meet with UEP staff and Government Relations committee members to provide updates on USDA activities. AMS and UEP will ensure relevant information discussed is communicated to the egg industry. UEP Consultant Randy Green initiated a discussion on UEP policy priorities, asking committee members' input. Members proposed several topics and will meet again for further discussion.

Chair Karyn Kreher opened the Food Safety Briefing, and she and UEP VP of Food Safety Regulatory Affairs Oscar Garrison reviewed the proposed Salmonella Survey by the Food Safety Advisory Council. The survey will be double-blinded without identifying any flocks with positive samples. The UEP Board approved moving forward with the survey at its January 27 meeting.

The comment period of the FDA Traceability Rule is extended to late February. A small group of Food Safety Committee members will draft UEP comments for the rule. Garrison reminded participants about the four new modules of the Egg Processing Sanitation training videos, developed by USDA Agriculture Marketing Services, Agricultural Research Service and Purdue Extension. Green reviewed the topics discussed at the FDA quarterly meeting.  Routine egg inspections will continue to be a low priority, though some states have implemented contract inspections. The outdoor access guidance document (relevant to the organic rule) is still under review by senior officials.

Chair J.T. Dean opened the Animal Welfare briefing. UEP’s VP of Animal Welfare, Dr. Larry Sadler, reviewed the UEP Certified audit timeline and changes to the cage-free guidelines effective in 2021.  The committee recommended that desk audits continue with an assessment of the pandemic in June, and the Board passed a motion in agreement at its meeting.

The Scientific Advisory Committee will meet this month to vote on new members and begin a review of UEP Certified Cage-Free guidelines. Sadler provided the schedule for developing and implementing new training videos, with completion scheduled for the end of this year. Organic Subcommittee Chair Sandra Lausecker opened a discussion about the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule and the UEP motion opposing the rule, which passed in 2017. This discussion was continued at the Board meeting, and members agreed that no change to the motion is required at this time.

Gregory provided a brief update on cage-free state legislation.