The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Thursday expressed grave concerns over an announcement that the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States agreed to petition Congress for legislation requiring commercial egg producers to move from conventional caged housing to “enriched” colony housing.

NPPC responded: “First, the U.S. pork industry is committed to animal well-being and continuous improvement in all aspects of pork production.

“But legislation pre-empting state laws on egg production systems would set a dangerous precedent for allowing the federal government to dictate how livestock and poultry producers raise and care for their animals. It would inject the federal government into the marketplace with no measurable benefit to public or animal health and welfare.

“NPPC is gravely concerned that such a one-size-fits-all approach will take away producers’ freedom to operate in a way that’s best for their animals, make it difficult to respond to consumer demands, raise retail meat prices and take away consumer choice, devastate 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 health and welfare.

“NPPC also is concerned about the uncertainty such legislation would generate among U.S. pork producers, who use a variety of production and housing systems. NPPC supports the right of all producers to choose systems that ensure the well-being of their animals and that are appropriate for their operations.

“The U.S. pork industry has adopted programs – Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transport Quality Assurance – that educate and certify producers in best practices, and it has adopted ‘We Care’ ethical principles that include producers’ commitments to:

  • Raise animals humanely and compassionately.
  • Produce safe, nutritious pork.
Use animal health products responsibly and in consultation with a veterinarian.