UEP members attended annual legislative visits

May 16, 2019

Published in WattAG, By DEVEN KING ,  May 16, 2019

Topics of discussion included immigration, food labeling, animal health and checkoff funding

Farmer members of United Egg Producers (UEP), held their annual legislative visits in Washington, D.C., on May 15 and 16. Conversations between egg producers and their congressional delegations covered immigration, food labeling, animal health and checkoff programs.

The visits are intended to help elected officials comprehend the challenges and opportunities of egg production. Chad Gregory, president and CEO of UEP said, “Egg producers representing states across the U.S. welcome the chance to discuss critical regulatory and business issues with members of Congress and provide their unique perspective on the impact of policy decisions on the day-to-day operations of their farms.”

UEP stances on topics of discussion

In face-to-face discussions over the two days in D.C., egg producers provided insight concerning four major policy areas affecting the egg industry.

Assuring egg producers have a strong voice on the issues that impact our daily operations and that our community is well-represented by our elected leaders has never been more important,” said Gregory.

Regarding immigration, a UEP press release explained that the organization, “supports the creation of a year-round guest worker program and asks Congress to pass legislation including an agricultural worker visa program that provides future access to a legal and stable workforce.”

Gregory gave the following additional comment in regard to immigration, “Egg producers, on average, are experiencing a 10 percent downturn in on-farm labor, and we recognize the issues of immigration and workforce development are complex. The lack of available farm labor is a real and growing problem that must be solved in our farm communities, and we strongly urge Congress to find a way to collaborate in support of comprehensive actions to fill the labor pipeline on U.S. egg farms.”

Food labeling concerns have been a popular discussion across all sectors of the food industrythe egg sector is no exception. UEP producers brought the issue to the table and explained, “that neither plant-based nor cell-cultured products should be labeled as “eggs” or “egg products” without some qualifying term such as “imitation” that would inform consumers that what they are purchasing is not an egg.”

Among other conversations were animal health concerns. The UEP press release explained that: “UEP urges the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to retain the flexibility to deploy funding for the Animal Disease Prevention and Management Program, as outlined in the Farm Bill, to pest or disease problems of greatest risk. UEP also is advocating to maintain or increase funding for low-pathogenic Avian Influenza indemnity.”

Commodity checkoff programs were the fourth area of discussion. The UEP supports the American Egg Board and other check off programs and is anti any legislation that would limit checkoff programs. “USDA oversight and current rules on referenda and farmer voting are sufficient,” the release said.

The farmer-members also heard presentations from elected and regulatory leaders including, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a member of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee; USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky; and Joseph Levitt, partner at Hogan Lovells and former director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

“America’s egg farmers appreciated the valuable time given by members of Congress and their aides to listen and understand four significant issues impacting egg production,” Gregory said.

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