The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has criticized congressional legislation introduced Monday that would prescribe cage sizes for egg-laying hens, saying it would create a “dangerous precedent” in allowing the federal government to regulate on-farm production practices, including animal housing.

The legislation seeks to codify an agreement the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) made with the egg industry. HSUS agreed to forego attempting to put in place state ballot initiatives that would dictate egg production practices, as well as stop 10 years of litigation against and undercover investigations of the egg industry. In exchange,  egg producers would agree to nearly double the size of their cages for laying hens. In addition to cage sizes, HR 3798 includes labeling requirements for eggs and new air-quality standards for hen houses.

“This HSUS-backed legislation would set a dangerous precedent that could let Washington bureaucrats dictate how livestock and poultry producers raise and care for their animals,” says NPPC President Doug Wolf, a hog farmer from Lancaster, WI. “We don’t need or want the federal government and HSUS telling us how to do our jobs.”

“This one-size-fits-all farm takeover bill is government intrusion on family farms at its worst and is unnecessary,” he adds. “If enacted, it would open Pandora’s Box for special interest groups to pursue similar federal laws on pig farmers, dairy farmers and other family farming operations.”

NPPC says the legislation would take away producers’ freedom to operate in ways that are best for their animals, make it difficult to respond to consumer demands, raise retail food prices and take away consumer choice, devastate small and niche producers and, at a time of constrained budgets for agriculture, redirect valuable resources from enhancing food safety and maintaining the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture to regulating on-farm production practices for reasons other than public and animal health.

“Treating farm animals humanely is an age-old principle for American farmers, and it’s a standard that doesn’t require an act of Congress,” Wolf says. “Unnecessary legislative mandates will only add financial burdens on American consumers and family-owned small businesses that are struggling in a fragile economy.”

NPPC is urging congressional lawmakers to oppose this proposed legislation, calling it the “Farm Takeover Bill.”