Amid growing tension and the approaching Aug. 2 deadline, the negotiations on raising the debt ceiling continues between President Barack Obama and the House and Senate congressional leadership. Fearing default and the ramifications this could have on the economy, over 450 business leaders sent a letter to President Obama and the members of Congress urging them to “put aside partisan differences and act in the nation’s best interests” by increasing the $14.3 trillion debt limit. In a letter, the business leaders stated: “Treasury securities influence the cost of financing not just for companies but more importantly for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and student debt. A default would risk both disarray in those markets and a host of unintended consequences.” The issues continue to be the level of cuts in government spending and adequacy of revenues.
HSUS and Egg Industry Agree on Federal Standards – The Humane Society of the Untied States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) reached an agreement to work together on federal legislation for all 280 million hens involved in U.S. egg production. This would be the first federal legislation to address the treatment of animals on farms. The proposed legislation would:
• Require conventional cages (currently used by more than 90% of the egg industry) to be replaced through an ample phase-in period with new, enriched housing systems that provide each hen nearly double the amount of space they’re currently allotted.
• Require that all egg-laying hens be provided, through the new enriched housing system, with environments that will allow them to express natural behaviors, such as perches, nesting boxes, and scratching areas.
• Mandate labeling on all egg cartons nationwide to inform consumers of the method used to produce the eggs, such as “eggs from caged hens, eggs from hens in enriched cages, eggs from cage-free hens,” and “eggs from free-range hens.”
• Prohibit excessive ammonia levels in hen houses.
• Prohibit the sale of eggs and egg products nationwide that don’t meet these requirements.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) raised concerns with this proposal and its effects on animal welfare standards at the federal level. NPPC said, the “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 measureable benefit to public or animal health and welfare.” NCBA said, “The cattle industry’s successful programs were not the result of a government mandate. They were developed by industry, for industry, to ensure cattlemen constantly improve handling and management techniques. And we will continue working to ensure our standards – not just animal care and handling, but food safety and environmental stewardship as well – are based on the latest knowledge. Unlike the UEP-HSUS agreement, our cattle care programs should never be weakened by being misused or construed as the basis of a regulatory or government mandated program.”
P. Scott Shearer