UEP Members come together during Legislative Board and Committee Meetings

May 31, 2024

During last week's UEP Legislative Board and Committee Meetings, attendees heard from United States Representative Randy Feenstra and United States Senator John Boozman before visiting other Senators and members of Congress on the Hill. The week’s agenda began with a review of UEP’s position papers, led by UEP consultants Randy Green and Louie Perry. The 2024 topics focused on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), clarifying egg prices and imitation egg products.


During the Government Relations Committee Briefing, chaired by Matt Dean, Representative Randy Feenstra (R-IA) acknowledged the ongoing challenges egg producers are facing with the two-year HPAI outbreak and shared his continued support for the egg industry as a representative from the largest egg-producing state. Mark Perigen, director of quality division with USDA-AMS, provided an update from the agency’s perspective before UEP’s DC consultant Louie Perry facilitated a discussion about upcoming 2024 elections.

Hinda Mitchell, president of Inspire PR Group, alongside Jody Swaim, principal, and Kyla Kaplan, associate attorney, with OFW Law discussed communication preparedness and regulatory response to food safety outbreaks during the Food Safety Briefing, chaired by Kim Rice. UEP’s SVP of Food Safety Oscar Garrison continued the committee meeting and briefing with an overview of pertinent food safety issues including the Expanding Food Safety Investigation Act, USDA-ARS personnel updates, and the future of UEP’s Salmonella study.

Doug Mack chaired the Environment and Sustainability Briefing. UEP environmental consultants Tom Hebert and Lauren Lurkins provided updates on the National Fire Protection Association sprinkler issue; AEB’s industry sustainability initiatives; emission estimation methods and Air Consent Agreement; EPA efforts regarding rodenticides and numerous CAFO rule updates.

Several important updates were shared during the Animal Welfare Briefing, chaired by Roger Seger. Organic Subcommittee Chair David Will kicked things off with an organic issues update, specifically flagging the National Organic Standard Board on Methionine and its sunset date of Sept. 12, 2026. Senior VP of Animal Welfare Dr. Larry Sadler shared updates on UEP Certified before introducing Heather Juhnke and Nick Praznowski with Bader Rutter to provide updates on the promotion of UEP Certified Cage-Free.

The Animal Welfare Briefing was momentarily postponed for Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to address attendees. Senator Boozman is the current Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee and has a deep understanding of the many challenges facing our agriculture and egg production. Senator Boozman briefly discussed HPAI and the need to identify new interventions to mitigate the virus and urged members of the importance to continue showing up and meeting with legislators in Washington, DC. Dr. Sadler closed out the Animal Welfare Briefing with a discussion of two pertinent animal welfare issues including the concept of an international UEP certification and the evolution of in-ovo sexing in the United States.

The day concluded with the Animal Health and Biosecurity Committee Briefing, chaired by Sherman Miller, where Garrison introduced Mark Lyons, DVM, director of ruminant health at USDA-APHIS, to discuss the evolving HPAI situation and other biosecurity issues. Dr. Lyons shared an overview of how the agency is handling HPAI response and specifically how it is affecting the U.S. dairy industry. Attendees then engaged in a robust discussion with Dr. Lyons about the importance of finding new mitigations to stop the spread of the virus. UEP President and CEO Chad Gregory shared updates regarding the changes to indemnity payments and UEP’s recent work with APHIS and poultry groups, specifically regarding research on vaccination and surveillance.