SAN FRANCISCO, April 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Humane Farming Association (HFA) and a broad coalition of animal protection organizations today expressed outrage over Senator Feinstein's introduction of "The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2013" (S. 820 and H.R. 1731).
"The egg industry wants to establish egg factory cages as a national standard that could never be challenged or changed by state law or public vote," said Bradley Miller, National Director of the Humane Farming Association. "The American public overwhelmingly supports the banning of egg factory cages, not measures such as this which would ban the outlawing of cages. This bill would clearly subvert the will of the people."
Widely referred to by opponents as the Rotten Egg Bill, Feinstein's measure would codify a controversial deal between the United Egg Producers (UEP) – the egg industry trade association recently sued for an alleged price-fixing scheme – and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which is now endorsing the exact same egg factory cages it previously opposed.
"This bill would be disastrous for laying hens who would be forever locked in cages — as well as for millions of Americans nationwide whose voting rights would be traded away," said Miller. "It's appalling to see the cynical political interests of the egg industry placed ahead of those of the American public."
"According to the bill's own sponsor, this bill was introduced to protect the economic interests of the egg industry," said Miller. "This bill would preempt state laws, such as California's Proposition 2, and is a direct assault upon egg laying hens, voters, and states' rights.
Last year, similar egg industry legislation failed to make it out of committee. This was attributed, in part, to the reluctance of many legislators to associate themselves with the scandal-ridden United Egg Producers (UEP). UEP and several of the egg companies it represents have been sued repeatedly for alleged illegal price fixing, paying $25 million to settle allegations that they illegally manipulated the price and supply of eggs under the guise of instituting standards for animal welfare.
Now, with active lawsuits still pending against them from companies such as General Mills and Kraft Foods — UEP and its co-defendants are again asking Congress to codify a set of standards that would, in effect, provide legal cover for the very activities of which they stand accused.
"Last year very few Senators were willing to jump in the middle of an ongoing price-fixing scandal just to placate an egg industry trade association and a co-opted humane organization," said Miller. "We expect this reluctance will continue this year." Dimming the bill's prospects even further is that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is now using funds to defend itself in a major Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit. At risk are literally millions of dollars in charitable donations.
"Should alleged lawbreakers be allowed to dictate federal policy? We don't think so. And we're confident that most lawmakers will feel likewise," said Miller.
In addition to the Humane Farming Association, opponents of the Rotten Egg Bill include Friends of Animals, United Poultry Concerns, Last Chance for Animals, Action for Animals, PETA, Northwest Animal Rights Network, Defend Animals Coalition, Political Animals, Maple Farm Sanctuary, Georgia Animal Rights and Protection, Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals, Vegan Society of Peace, Humane Farming Action Fund, Sunnyskies Bird and Animal Sanctuary, SAFE, Animals Unlimited, Action Volunteers for Animals, Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition, Purpose Group International, Chicken Run Rescue, Pasado Safe Haven, Associated Humane Societies, and the vast majority of rank-and-file animal advocates. To view HFA's animated short A Cage Is A Cage, to take action, and to learn more about this measure, please visit: StopTheRottenEggBill.org.
About HFA: Founded in 1985 and now over 250,000 members strong, The Humane Farming Association (HFA.org) operates the nation's largest farm animal rescue and care facility and spearheads the Stop the Rotten Egg Bill campaign. For media inquiries, contact Jill Mountjoy at 415.485.1495.