Backlash from livestock groups and fellow senators has likely prompted Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to put the egg bill back in the carton.
The egg bill is language struck from an agreement reached by the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States that would establish a national standard for confinement of egg-laying hens. The bill would supersede state standards for cages, some of which have come from HSUS-led voter initiatives. Stabenow is a co-sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
But the egg bill has had critics since UEP and HSUS struck their agreement in 2011. Other livestock and poultry groups have been appalled at the idea of Congress and the federal government implementing a national standard for livestock or poultry.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council lashed out last week after learning Stabenow would add the egg bill to her initial draft of the farm bill, typically referred to as the "chairman's mark." NCBA's president had threatened to oppose the entire farm bill over the language.
Following the backlash, Mary Kay Thatcher, a lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said Monday on radio show Agri-Talk that lobbyists now are hearing from Senate Agriculture Committee staff that Stabenow won't be including the egg bill as part of the her initial draft of the farm bill.
"Most of agriculture was very, very concerned about the precedent something like this would set," Thatcher said on the radio show.
A spokesman for NCBA also confirmed the group had heard that the egg bill would not be in Stabenow's mark.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., had said if egg bill were included in the farm bill, "We're dead in the water."
Thatcher also said in her radio interview Monday that the Senate Agriculture Committee was continuing to push for a markup on Thursday. If that's the case, then Stabenow's office would be expected to release the chairman's mark on Tuesday.
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