The United Egg Producers have released a study that shows if animal rights activists are successful in outlawing caged hens in the U.S. consumers will be forced to pay 25% more for eggs, costing consumers $2.6 billion more each year.
Also hit would be the food assistance programs such as the school lunch and breakfast programs, Woman, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which would mean an additional $169 million in federal spending.
The study, which was conducted by Promar International, a Washington, D.C. economic consulting firm, says such a sharp increase could mean a significant rise in egg imports.
"If we have to start importing eggs into this country we will increase our food safety risks," said Gene Gregory, president of United Egg Producers. "I don't think American consumers really want to play Russian Roulette with every carton of eggs they buy, which is essentially what would happen if we allow special interest groups to force a ban on the most modern, sanitary egg housing systems in the world. Those systems are used to produce 95% of the eggs that American consumers buy every day."
An increase in imports would also increase the carbon footprint for a dozen eggs due to the added transportation necessary. California is converting to non-cage systems over the next five years and several other states are as well under pressure from animal rights activists. If all U.S. egg producers were forced to change the study estimates the cost to farmers would be $7.5 billion.