UEP Legislative Meetings Once Again a Huge Success

May 24, 2018

Prominent speakers, informative issue briefings, and meetings with Congressional representatives topped the agenda for the 2018 Legislative Meetings held last week in Washington, D.C.   UEP Chairman Brian Barrett and President Chad Gregory, welcomed over 150 egg farmers and allied industry representatives to the nation’s capital.

USEPA photo by Eric Vance

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt addressed environmental policymaking and several other issues important to the industry in a question and answer session facilitated by Gregory. Other speakers were Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Dr.  Stephen Ostroff, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, and USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach.

The legislative meetings began with the Government Relations Committee Briefing, chaired by Tom Hertzfeld, Jr.  Prior to the meeting, the committee identified key topics to discuss with Congress.    Based on this information, UEP D.C. consultants, Randy Green and Louie Perry, prepared position papers for the following issues:  2018 Farm Bill Livestock Pest and Disease Program, Labor Needs and Immigration Bill, International Trade Concerns, Low-Path Avian Influenza, and Defense of Commodity Checkoff Programs.  During the meeting, Green and Perry reviewed the background, UEP position, and the specific requests to Congressional members for each position paper.

The May 17 agenda began with the Environmental Committee Briefing, chaired by Steve George.  Agenda items for this briefing were deferred due to EPA Commissioner Scott Pruitt’s presentation.

The Animal Welfare Committee Briefing was opened by Chairman Mark Oldenkamp.  Dr. Larry Sadler, UEP’s VP of Animal Welfare, provided updates on the 2018 UEP Certified audits, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Shell Egg Food Safety Requirements (CDFA SEFS), and the new portal being designed by DWebware.   Dr. Janice Swanson, Vice-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee, spoke about outcome-based assessments and how measures can be applied to UEP audits.

The Animal Health and Biosecurity Committee Briefing was opened by Chairman Sherman Miller who asked that all take a moment to remember the former Chairman Gregg Clanton who passed away in February.  UEP’s Senior VP of Food Safety Oscar Garrison provided a summary of the May 10 APHIS Poultry Sector Meeting and encouraged UEP members to attend the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) meeting, June 26-28, and provide input on the proposed program changes.  There was also dialogue about low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) indemnity funding versus controlled product marketing.  After much discussion the consensus was to retain the existing UEP position below:

“UEP believes the use of controlled marketing for LPAI-positive flocks will seldom be feasible in the layer industry, due to the difficulty of isolating positive from non-infected flocks in a complex and the risk of a circulating virus mutating into a highly pathogenic strain.  UEP generally favors depopulation and indemnification for LPAI outbreaks, rather than controlled marketing.  UEP believes controlled marketing should be an option if funding for indemnities and compensation is not available, subject to considerations of biosecurity, geography, customer acceptance, interstate movement and other factors.”

Cliff Lillywhite chaired the Food Safety Committee Briefing.  Garrison provided a brief overview of the Egg Products Inspection proposed rule change from prescriptive, command-and-control to performance standards.  Garrison and Tony Wesner, COO of Rose Acre Farms, reviewed FDA regulatory authority and the events before and after the recent egg recall.  Dr. Mike Martin, Director of Poultry Division, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, provided information on typical food outbreak patterns and types of bias.

The UEP Board of Directors met on May 18 and the meeting concluded.  Mark your calendars for the 2019 D.C. meetings, which will be held May 14-17 at the Hyatt Regency.