The American Farm Bureau Federation strongly criticized a bill pushed by the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers to implement an agreement they reached to replace decades of science-based animal care practices with strict government control.

The flawed legislation, H.R. 3798, introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), would set a dangerous precedent by establishing federally mandated egg production practices and banning a number of other proven science-based egg production methods, according to AFBF President Bob Stallman.

"This bill would result in mandated animal care standards based largely on the political goals of an animal rights group that seeks to eventually shut down animal agriculture by government mandate," Stallman said. "The bill ignores the science supporting the consensus among mainstream agricultural veterinarians, animal scientists and livestock producers. We see this legislation as an attempt by a radical animal rights group to legitimize a policy package that will undoubtedly be used to bully other livestock producers."

Other organizations joining AFBF in raising serious concerns about the bill include the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation and the National Milk Producers Federation.

"The top priority of America's farm and ranch families is to raise healthy animals, which results in healthy food for our nation," Stallman said. "Our food supply is simply too important for scientifically proven production standards to be outlawed on any basis. We firmly believe that any approach to animal care that does not rely on the expertise of veterinarians and animal scientists collaborating with farmers, ranchers and other livestock producers-in short, the people who work with farm animals daily-is simply not justified."

According to Stallman, as science has provided improved animal care standards, techniques and tools over the years, farmers and ranchers have steadily and voluntarily adopted these improvements to enhance the welfare of their livestock and viability of their operations.

"Farmers and ranchers have a proven track record of improvement in animal care-their livelihood depends on it," Stallman said. "We do not need heavy-handed government mandates based primarily on the extreme political whims of animal rights activists who clearly have no regard for science-based animal husbandry or for the hard-working families that provide all of us with wholesome foods from well-cared-for livestock. Legislation that attempts to selectively and arbitrarily label any proven, science-based, animal care practice as 'bad' is politics at its worst."