Why Does the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assocation Care About the Humane Society-United Egg Producers Agreement?Posted: March 1, 2012
Just finished reading a post over at Beltway Beef about how NCBA thinks the agreement reached by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and United Egg Producers (UEP) is a “dangerous precedent”. Here’s a pdf fact sheet about the agreement from HSUS. In short, the two organizations have agreed to mutually pursue legislation that will mandate enriched cages instead of barren battery cages phased in over 15-18 years. It would also mandate labeling on egg cartons such as “eggs from caged hens”. Forced molting through starvation would be banned as well as some other issues that are addressed in the fact sheet. To be clear, there is no legislation currently on the table. The agreement only specifies that the two groups will work together to get legislation passed. And we’re talking federal law too which would trump any existing state laws.
So two groups who are generally in disagreement get along and agree on some legislation that improves the lives of laying hens – and this is a bad thing?
I think enriched cages are certainly an improvement for laying hens, so I support this legislation. But, I don’t think it’s the best solution. I’ll continue to buy my eggs from local farmers or raise backyard chickens before I’ll buy eggs at the grocery store from battery caged hens or even enriched caged hens.
But why is NCBA up in arms about this?
From the Beltway Beef post: “If the legislation were to become law, Butts said for the first time ever, the federal government would be in charge of mandating how farmers and ranchers raise and care for their animals. ”
Ah, the ol’ slippery slope argument! Here’s why I believe this alarmist position is not justified. They say that if the legislation would pass, then the government would, for the first time ever, be in charge of mandating how farmers and ranchers raise and care for their animals. For starters, ranchers raise cattle…not chickens. So this legislation will not be a precedent for any mandates for ranchers. Second, the legislation would only mandate one specific aspect of the egg industry — and for the better! It would not give the government any more power than the legislation addresses — which is a 15-18 year phase-in of enriched cages and some labeling standards.
NCBA wants to pretend that the government has no business meddling in the affairs of farmers and ranchers. But the NCBA certainly wants to have their say in politics: Influence Explorer. The government has the right to enact legislation regarding the livestock/agriculture industry and this is not some Draconian legislation — it’s just about improving the welfare of laying hens!