Egg Amendment is Top Priority for NCBA

Cindy Zimmerman 10 Comments

As the amendments to the 2012 Farm Bill are piling up in the Senate, one of the more than 240 stands out as causing the most concern to many agricultural organizations, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and that is the rotten egg amendment.

A “dangerous piece of legislation” is what NCBA calls amendment #2252, put forward by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “This amendment actually codifies an agreement reached by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) in July of last year that would actually for the first time ever have members of Congress involved in production practices for food producing animals,” said NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts in an interview today. “This really creates a precedent where Congress has never been before.”

The amendment was developed from a stand alone bill introduced in both the House and Senate this year that would set certain specifications for cage sizes of laying hens. The agreement made by HSUS and UEP to get legislation regulating cage sizes passed actually expires June 30, so Kristina says supporters are using the Farm Bill as a vehicle to move it considering the short period of time left before Congress adjourns for campaign time. “This is NCBA’s number one priority to defeat in the Farm Bill,” she said. “We’re not sure if this is one of the amendments that leadership will agree to actually have a vote on but our membership wants us to consider this a very serious threat.”

Work on the Farm Bill ground to a halt after Wednesday when just two of the growing list of amendments were considered by the Senate. Kristina says now it looks like it will be Tuesday before any more votes will be taken.

Listen to my interview with Kristina here: NCBA's Kristina Butts

Beef, Farm Bill, Government, NCBA, Poultry

Comments 10

  1. Ricky

    I really think this issue isn’t important. How about FIXING THE ECONOMY!!!!!!!!! When that is done then we can move on to frivolous bs like cage sizes for chickens…….

  2. Jaime

    In my opinion, I think is is very unfunny to have the reporter ask why private property beef producers get involved with private property eggs, all the while ignoring H$U$ total lack of production of either beef or eggs. Shouldn’t we be askng ourselves, by what basis in US Constitutional law does H$U$ assert a communal interest to interfere with God-given fundamental rights in other peoples’ animals?
    Moreover, if H$U$ does not believe in owning animals, why does it seem to exploiting other peoples’ animals to make their sad-eyed advertisements. Instead, they should use their own sad-eyed lawyers to make their cheesey ads.

  3. Jaime

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to be picking on the reporter. The question of why beef producers are involved offered a great opportunity to explain this is a private property verses communal interest problem that affects all of animal agriculture. The creation of false dilemmas (about animal cruelty, pollution of air, you-name-it) seem to be the cancer that imposes public communal interest type regulations and laws that threaten all of our economic liberties.

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  4. Dustin

    It’s ridiculous that Y’all will fight so hard against laws to improve the lives of animals that are forced to live in absolute misery. Do you seriously lack all empathy of what it might be like to be an animal in these types of situations. It’s not like the experience of these chickens is kind of bad; It’s horrible. We can have a moral conscience when it comes to how we raise our animals for meat and still stay in business. We Americans live very comfortably and having to do a little extra work to make the life experience of millions of chickens change from absolutely horrible to not that great, isn’t that big of a deal. Honestly try to think about what it may be like to be one of these animals and ask yourself “What types of laws would I want in place if I was one of those animals.”

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    Dustin – animals are not human. We can treat animals HUMANELY, and the vast majority of livestock producers do just that. But human and humane are two different things. People put their pets in crates to restrain them but wouldn’t (ideally) put their children in them. Yes, I seriously lack all empathy of what it might be like to be an animal. The purpose of the lives of the animals we are talking about is to produce food for humans. They would not even EXIST if it were not for that purpose. And we are not only talking about Americans who live so “comfortably.” Eggs are one of the most affordable sources of protein on the planet. Making it more expensive and difficult to produce eggs will make them less affordable for the school nutrition programs that feed children who may not be getting fed well at home. Think about that.

  6. Dustin


    I never said that animals were human; They don’t need to be to experience pleasure, misery or a whole host of other emotions and sensations. The important thing is that they can experience misery. But, yes, if you honestly lack all empathy for what it might be like to be an animal and your compassion is limited within the human species then it makes complete sense why you don’t care. I will never come to the same conclusions that you do, because I do care and I do have empathy for what it might be like to be an animal raised for food. I care what their experience is like during their lifetime even though I still eat them and depend on them for the continuation of my life. And, no, the vast majority of animals raised for food are not treated humanely; The vast majority are treated extremely inhumanely.

    Also, “The purpose of the lives of the animals we are talking about” depends upon who’s perspective your analyzing. It’s definitely not a life, those chickens would choose. Animals do have preferences. They may not be able to rationalize life like we do, but they do have a right to not be forced into misery for their entire lives from my perspective.

    Regarding cost, the increase in price from the amendment this article is discussing to improve the lives of egg laying hens is less then one penny per egg. That’s an extremely small price to pay go from inhumane to humane and is not going cause some families/industries from all of a sudden losing the ability to afford egg protein.

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    Dustin – the increase in price regarding the amendment is based on an analysis that assumes all egg producers will just go ahead and make the changes necessary for them to stay in business. That requires up front costs for them that they may not be willing to put out. Take a look at what has happened in Europe since they enacted a similar law. Producers are choosing to get out of the business, which means there is now a smaller supply of eggs and they are more expensive. That is what will happen if this becomes law.
    I will repeat – the purpose of the lives of these animals is to produce food. They would not exist otherwise. These chickens are specifically BRED for this purpose. By saying they don’t have a life they “would choose” is simply thinking of them in human terms again.
    And unless you have personally visited “the vast majority” of poultry and livestock operations in this country, your statement that animals raised for food are treated “extremely inhumanely” can not be considered a fact. And if you believe that and care so deeply than you certainly cannot in good conscience eat meat, dairy products or eggs – unless you personally visit the farms where they come from and approve of their treatment.

    1. Dustin


      You are comparing apple and oranges. The reason why eggs had a more dramatic increase in price in Europe is because they chose to wait until the last minute to make the changes that they were required by law to make. They figured they would be irresponsible about making the changes in a timely progressive manner and then hope that they could get an extension or forgiveness or that the law wouldn’t be enforced. It’s a tactic that often works for big business but it didn’t in this situation. If the European egg factories would have made the improvements progressively they would not of been faced with the problem of making abrupt quick changes to their industry and then the supply of eggs would not of decreased like it did causing a dramatic increase in price like it did. I have a feeling you know this but chose to selectively leave it out. The amendment here in the U.S. doesn’t take full effect until around 2025 (I don’t remember the exact year). That is plenty of time for egg factories to make necessary changes which invalidates your argument “That requires up front costs for them that they may not be willing to put out.” They have more then enough time to progressively make these changes in a way that wont hurt them financially. In fact, the amendment here in the U.S. requires some progressive change partly because of what happened in Europe.

      Just because some humans feel that the whole purpose of these chickens lives are to produce eggs for human consumption doesn’t mean we should pay zero respect to them, have zero compassion for them and force them to live a miserable life just so we can save a couple pennies. These animals still experience pain and pleasure. It’s irrelevant for what purpose they are bred. They still experience, and chickens in most of these egg factories would be better off not existing at all.

      Choosing is not a purely human characteristic. Most life on this planet chooses and has preferences for certain lifestyles. It baffles me that you think choice is limited to the human species. Do you also think that emotions are purely human also. Any animal with a Limbic system has the ability to feel emotions and emotions will almost always affect the CHOICES an animal makes.

      And, no, I don’t have to personally visit the vast majority of farms to have a good idea of what the situations are like there. One can intelligently read and watch investigations, reports and the news from the different sides to get a good idea of the situation. Your setting unrealistic qualifications for your opponents and it’s faulty logic. The beauty of technology is that it allows us to see places that we haven’t actually been to. Yes, we need to understand that there is sometimes trickery in investigations, reports and news designed to fool people. But, that’s why it is always important to use common sense in your analysis and read different sides of an argument. Based on the evidence out there and our current understanding of human and animal nature, it is unreasonable and misleading to conclude that these animals are treated humanely.

      And, yes, I believe I can care for the experience of animals and still eat them. There are farms that treat their animals good and I make sure that I only buy from them. Death is a part of life. I have come to accept that I am part of that process but that doesn’t mean I have to become numb to anything that an animal may feel and have zero compassion for their life experience. Is there really no middle ground for you, savage carnivore or benevolent vegan but nothing in between.

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